It's easy to monitor your energy and water use when it's just you and your partner, but when a child or several children are added to the mix, keeping your utility bills low becomes a little more challenging. Here's a look at four simple, child-friendly ways to keep your utility bills in check in spite of your growing family.

Turn your water heater temperature down.

Most people set their hot water heater to 140 degrees F. Not only is maintaining this high temperature unnecessary, but it's also dangerous in homes with young children. Turn your water heater down to 125 degrees F. Not only will your utility bills go down, but you won't have to worry about your child burning him or herself with hot water, either.

Replace your electric hot water heater with a gas one.

If you have an electric hot water heater, now is the time to spring for a gas one in its place. Electric hot water heaters are notoriously less efficient than gas ones. This may not have made much of a difference when it was just one or two adults using the water, but now that you're drawing baths for children, you'll likely save a lot by switching to gas. For more information, talk to a professional such as AA Plumbing.

Say goodbye to your garbage disposal.

It takes a lot of electricity to operate, and it's not a safe appliance to have when there are kids around who could stick utensils (or even their hands) into the disposal. If you have a septic tank, removing your garbage disposal will also decrease your septic tank's workload, which is good news now that it's handling water and waste from an entire family.

Keep television watching to a minimum.

At the end of the long day, it can be tempting to plop your kids down on the couch and let the television entertain them while you catch up on some reading or housework. However, getting into this habit can be costly. Think of the electricity you'll save over your children's lifetimes if you teach them early on to read or create crafts rather than sit in front of the screen. Your children will likely be healthier, happier, and more active as a result of watching less television, too.

Children certainly bring joy to your life, but they also bring a lot of expenses. Between diapers, toys, food, and doctor's visits, the costs can add up quickly. Don't let high utility bills have a place on that list. Get into the habit of keeping utility use under control when your kids are young, and you'll have an easier time doing so as they grow up.

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