Although electricity costs are much lower than they have been, people are still struggling with bills, thanks to a slow economy. Recent credit reform, though, has awakened consumers to the possibility of using credit cards to pay utility bills and reap auxiliary benefits.

With the cost of electricity dropping by nearly 25 percent since 2008 you would think that people have more money at the end of the month but that statistic is misleading.

Indeed, people are probably paying less in utility bills costs, but that does not mean that times are easier by any stretch of the imagination. A slow economy and a messy global financial system have left many people in disarray and with summer upon us many experts expect to see these costs rise a little.

Higher Temperatures Equals Higher Bills

Typically electricity use goes up in the summer, especially in particularly hot regions, because of the increased use of fans and air conditioning units.

On average, an American Household pays about $111 per month; at least, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This statistic is, in fact, lower than the same one taken in 2008 but with many families dealing with reduced incomes thanks to the global recession, it is still a big concern.

Bills become even bigger burdens during the summer when people not only may want to use more electricity but also because families want to take time and money to travel or go on vacation.

The Credit Card Strategy

Some savvy consumers have found that they can use credit cards with cash back benefits to pay their utility bills and then reap the reward of responsible credit management at the end of the next billing cycle.

Many credit cards allow their users to set up automatic bill payments, which provides the added bonus of having things paid on time according to an established budget. The Citi Dividend Card, for example, awards new card holders $150 cash back after making $500 in purchases within the first three months of opening an account with a five percent category bonus as well as a zero percent purchase rate for the first year.

Saving Energy Saves Money

Obviously, the best strategy for saving money on utility bills is to cut down on use. To do this, experts suggest using a cash back credit card to purchase an electricity monitor that tells you how much you are using, which you can then convert and translate into dollars.

With this handy tool you will be able to predetermine what your bills will be and then you can make adjustments as you see fit. If you were to use the aforementioned card, for example, you could take advantage of the home category bonus by purchasing the electricity monitor at Home Depot and getting five percent cash back.

These same experts also suggest that while you are at Home Depot, you may want to consider picking up a few other energy-saving (and thus money saving) items for your home:

  • Blinds that block the sun through the windows will help keep heat out so that you can keep your thermostat at a steady level of comfort, especially during the hottest part of the day
  • Ceiling and window fans, which use less electricity than air conditioning units. Open a few doors and windows to circulate the air too.
  • Air conditioning filters to ensure that when you use your units, they are working at their optimum
  • Planting trees that can shade your windows and other sections of the house that might get hit hardest by the heat of the sun

In addition to these things, experts also suggest that you remember to switch off the air conditioning when no one is home and set the thermostat lower during those times when the house is empty.

If your home has an automated system you could program it to provide with the proper air and temperatures during the best times, too.