PCS Efficiency: How to Set Up Your New Home so It Costs Less to Run

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Setting up a new home always costs money. Thankfully, the military provides the dislocation allowance to offset many costs incurred during a permanent change-of-station, or PCS, move. But the decisions you make when you move in will also affect the ongoing costs of running your new home. Think about your options for each service to find the best price for your situation.

1. Comparison-Shop for Utilities

In some locations, you have choices for utilities such as internet or electricity. Find the best deal. If you lock in a promotional price, make a note on your calendar to check your options shortly before the promo ends.

2. Pick a Lower Internet Speed

Even basic internet is so fast now that it might be just as good as premium services. Your internet company will always let you bump up to a higher plan if you notice any problems.

3. Skip the Premium Channels

Adding extra channels can add a lot to your cable bill. You're probably already paying for subscriptions such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu or Disney+. Add those subscriptions to free services such as Tubi, and there's very little you can't find.

4. Or Skip Cable Altogether

My family dropped cable a few years ago, and I honestly can't remember two times that anyone has cared. For the $70 a month we're saving, we can buy something if we really, really want it.

5. Make Sure Your New Toilets Aren't Leaking Expensive Water

Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank, and check back in an hour to see if the water in the bowl has color. If you have a leak, either fix it yourself or call your landlord. It isn't hard. YouTube has tons of videos, and parts are cheap.

6. Turn Your Water Heater Down to 120 Degrees

This saves money, but it is also safer, especially if you have children or older family members.

7. Install Efficient Showerheads and Light Bulbs

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a low-flow shower head can save 2,900 gallons of water annually under normal use. LED light bulbs can save about 90% on electricity, and they also last longer.

8. Test the Seals on Everything

Place a piece of paper in the door of your new fridge and close it. If you can pull the paper out easily, the seal isn't sealing tightly. The cost-benefit of replacing the seal will vary depending on your situation, but at least you'll know whether it is working well. While you're at the refrigerator, make sure it is leveled. Most models have adjustable feet. A level fridge will seal better.

Install inexpensive foam gaskets behind outlets and switch plates to stop drafts.

And finally, check that your doors and windows have good seals. You can use a candle or incense stick to find drafts. Weatherstripping, foam and caulk can keep your hot and cool air on the inside!

9. Make Sure Your Furniture Doesn't Cover Vents

Blocked vents make the furnace work harder, increasing your costs. It's also bad for the system. Absolutely need to place furniture over a vent? Use small blocks to keep the furniture away from the wall (chunky doorstops often work) or use vent cover extenders to push the air in the right direction.

10. Get an Energy Audit from Your Electric Company

Many companies provide free or heavily subsidized energy audits that can identify things for you to fix. Sometimes they even offer discounts on the work.

11. Find Out if Your New Home Has Different Rates for Electricity

If your electricity provider charges different rates at different times, learn which hours are on-peak and off-peak and when the rates change over the course of the year. Do household jobs that use a lot of electricity, such as drying clothes, during off-peak hours.

12. Choose Thicker Window Coverings

Thicker curtains will keep your house warmer and cooler. Layering window coverings can provide even efficiency.

Each of these little actions can have an effect on your monthly bills. Added together, you could save several hundred dollars a month. That's a pretty great return on something you only need to do once!

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