Slash your utility bills this summer

There are two bills which go up every summer- electricity and water.   Water is a precious resource in Israel and we also have a very complicated relationships to energy supply (being restricted from the oil of our neighbors)  For many reasons including environmental, financial and political Israelis need to be very careful how they use these resources.
The government dramatically raised the cost of water over the last few years to encourage people to cut back.  I am not sure if it is effective in other households but it has been with us, considering our bill went up a whopping 300%. 
Over the past year, we have been able to lower our use and dramatically cut our bills.  It has been mostly painless and done through a series of small changes. 
Here is how we did it.
Take off the pressure
Our washing machine gives the option to wash ½ a load.  We began using this setting for regular loads and our clothes are coming out just as clean.  If you do this it is very important to also lower the amount of detergent you use- cut the amount by at least half but you can generally use ¼ of what you were using before (this sounds crazy but most people use way too much detergent and it actually makes your clothes feels dirtier).
Don’t bathe your kids every day.  We used to have bath time as part of our evening routine until I realized that it was literally costing us hundreds of shekels a month.  Now, when the kids are dirty we put them in the tub, scrub ‘em down and rinse them off.  It hasn’t impacted our bedtime at all.
If you really want to be a super saver, buy a large sized tub, something that you would use for laundry and stand in it while you shower.  This saves the grey water from your shower and you can use it to flush your toilet.
People don’t realize that every time they flush they are using substantial amounts of water and it adds up quickly.  Israel is a step ahead because most toilets come with the option to do a smaller or larger flush.  The smaller flush is almost always enough and you can always try it first and then do it again if it is not enough.
Although my next suggestion is kind of hard core it saves huge amounts of water per month… ever heard the saying “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down?” Urine is sterile and you don’t actually need to flush every time that you use the toilet. Although this can smell bad, if you leave the lid down and clean with bleach often it doesn''t have to.
Turn it off
There are many times when the solution is as simple as turning the water off when you don’t need it.
Turn off the shower when you are washing your hair or shaving.  We always called this an Army shower.  This admittedly is a little bit annoying but can cut the amount of water you use per shower by 1/3.
Turn off the water while you scrub dishes and then fill the sink with water to rinse them all off.
Turn the water off while brushing your teeth.
Electric bills go up in the summer mostly due to air conditioners which consume a huge amount of electricity.  There is also a difference in cost between when you use electricity.  At night, electricity actually costs less than during the peak afternoon hours.  Lowering your bill is a combination of changing both what you use and when you use it.
Keeping cool
Install ceiling fans, heat rises and ceiling fans can dramatically cool down a room.  Plus you can leave them on all the time and they are not a danger to kids. A ceiling fan keeps a room feeling 6-7 degrees cooler and even a mild air movement of 1 mph can make you feel 3-4 degrees colder. Fans in general are great to use even when the AC is on, keeping you cooler at a slightly higher temperature.
Invest in being able to block out sunlight, if you have “tressim” use them, and if not, try investing in vinyl shades (I got mine at IKEA).  Age old advice for Mediterranean countries is to open all your windows at night and then shut the windows and shades in the morning when it is still cool.  This works extremely well, believe me, the hot wind that blows in the afternoon will NOT cool you off.  This works even better when you have an air conditioner because you are not dependent on how cool it gets at night.  If the nights are still hot then run the air conditioner all night and shutter everything in the morning.  Usually, this will keep the house cool and only fans will be needed in the afternoon.  If you are still getting hot and anticipate that you will need at least a few hours of air conditioning per day than run it in the morning and still try to have it off in the peak hours of the afternoon.
Time your use
Plan when you will use your appliances, since peak hours cost more for all of your appliances (not just air conditioners) and create heat, try and plan your electrical use.  Do your laundry early in the morning and cook at night for the next day.
Ditch your oven
Rely on your microwave, not your oven.  Ovens consume a lot of electricity and produce heat which means that you will need to compensate by turning up the AC.  Try getting in the habit of cooking at night in preparation for the next day or baking early in the morning when you can leave all your windows open.
Line dry
Dryers use an insane amount of electricity and especially in the summer clothes dry quickly, sometimes in less time than a dryer.  Yes, it is more work but you can save a few hundred a month which is literally thousands of shekels per year.
I hope that these tips help.  Please feel free to give your own tips in the comment section.