51 Ways to Save On Utilities

One place I’ve never done a very good job of scrimping is on household utility expenses.  Sure, I do the usual things, like choosing Energy Star appliances when replacements are necessary, and using a programmable timer for my heat and air conditioning.  However, I’m pretty slack with the small stuff.

However, we’ve just moved in to a new house that seems like it could really use a lot of gas and electricity.  Also, when looking over our new electricity plan, I noticed that there is an enormous difference in price between peak and off-peak prices.  I guess I’m starting to take an interest in the cost of lighting and running this house.  And I should, because it is an area with potential for serious savings.

  1. Replace light bulbs with energy efficient options, including compact florescent lights (CFLs) and LED.
  2. Unplug stuff when you are not using it.  Seems silly, but many electrical devices draw power even when they are not turned on.
  3. Use thermal drapes to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
  4. Turn off the lights!
  5. Use a dehumidifier to keep your house more comfortable in the summer.
  6. Investigate alternative energy providers.  Some people can choose their company and, therefore, their rates.
  7. Run appliances at night, during “off peak” or “night” rates.  Use the delay settings on your clothes washer, dryer, and dish washer.
  8. Take out some of the light bulbs in large fixtures or rooms with multiple fixtures on one switch.
  9. Install and use a programmable thermostat.
  10. Keep the coils on your refrigerator clean.
  11. Take the light bulb out of your microwave.
  12. Use motion detector or photo-sensitive outdoor lights.
  13. See if your utility provider offers any discount plans.  We saved $150 every summer by allowing them to install a thermostat that they could work remotely in times of high usage.  One or two days a summer, we’d have our air conditioning cycled on and off for a few hours.  We never noticed the difference and it was a great savings.
  14. Hang your clothes to dry, or at least be sure not to keep drying them after they are already dry.
  15. Keep the vents in your refrigerator and freezer free of containers and frost.
  16. Use small lamps instead of overhead lights.
  17. Go to bed at a decent hour and save on heating and lighting.
  18. Keep the seals on your refrigerator and freezer clean.
  19. In the winter, leave the oven door cracked after using the oven, to allow the hot air to warm the kitchen.
  20. Avoid using the oven in the summer, or try to do your baking in the early morning hours.
  21. Clean or replace your HVAC filter monthly.
  22. Purchase only highly efficient appliances.
  23. Increase the insulation in your attic.
  24. In the summer, use your crockpot in the coolest or least used part of the house.  The food will cook the same, even if it is in the laundry room.
  25. Teach your kids to take shorter showers, and use slightly less water in the bathtub.
  26. Use a humidifier to keep your house more comfortable in the winter.
  27. Have your HVAC system maintained regularly to keep it functioning well.
  28. Turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees or less.
  29. Consider using a space heater if you only need to heat a small area of your home.
  30. Remove one light bulb from your garage door opener.
  31. Let your hair dry naturally instead of using the blow dryer.
  32. Bake in batches, taking advantage of the already hot oven to save the expense of preheating.
  33. Install a timer on your hot water heater.
  34. Buy cozy socks, slippers, and robes for everyone in your family.
  35. Bypass the garbage disposal and put food trash in the trash can.
  36. Minimize usage of the garage door opener.
  37. Make sure your doors and windows have good weatherstripping.
  38. Turn off the dryer function on your dishwasher, and let the dishes air dry instead.
  39. Insulate and weatherstrip the access door to your attic spaces.
  40. Use cold water for clothes washing.
  41. Buy a water heater blanket for your hot water tank.
  42. Set your refrigerator and freezer on the warmest settings that still keep them appropriately cold.
  43. Teach your children to sleep without lights on.
  44. Consider replacing windows if you have old, single pane styles.
  45. Turn off fans when you are not in the room.
  46. Keep your dryer lint free.  Not just the lint trap, but the area around the lint trap, the vent hose, and inside the dryer itself.  You’d be amazed what can build up in there.
  47. Consider replacing your refrigerator if it is more than 10 years old, and think more if it is older.
  48. Use open windows and fans instead of air conditioning until the heat or the humidity becomes truly unbearable.
  49. Bypass electric tools and use manual options:  can openers, yard edgers, mixers, etc.
  50. Use small nightlights instead of leaving hall lights on at night.
  51. Turn off the wrinkle-guard setting on your clothes dryer.

I’m sure that many of you have ideas that I haven’t even considered, so please share in the comments.  Saving money is a community effort!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.

    I couldn’t access the full story so the small blurp is useless. It would be nice to see those 51 ideas. – –

    Where are they?

    • KateKashman

      Brass, thanks for pointing out the problem. I think I’ve fixed it now. Is anyone still having problems seeing the list?

      Have a great day!

    • KateKashman

      Brass, thanks for pointing out the problem. I think I’ve fixed it now. Is anyone still having trouble seeing the list?

  • Guest

    I read one that I think is brilliant and I do it every time I use the oven now. Let the oven pre-heat for about 3-5 minutes before putting in whatever you are making. It doesn’t need to be heated to the exact temp you are going to be cooking at. Turn the oven off about 5 minutes before your normal cooking time and leave it in the oven. The oven will still be hot and will still cook the food, you just have the oven off sooner and on for a shorter period of time.

  • Paul

    convert to tankless water heaters!

    • Elizabeth

      Due to location in the house, this isn’t possible for everyone…. or affordable.

  • John

    We replaced every light in our house with CFL bulbs and immediately saved $60.00 a month! No Joke! We compared monthly usage every month to the same month the year before for a year. You can’t believe how much you can save! Just be sure to buy the right “wattage equivalent” for what you are replacing. 60 watt equivalent bulbs are very dim, CFL’s come in all ranges of wattage equivalency. Just buy the right bulbs, soft white for indoors, bright white for outdoors. Chandelier bulbs are even available that can be used with a dimmer switch. Wait for a sale, get coupons, and buy in large packages to save even more. You have to do this!

  • ildiko

    Too bad that CFL bulbs are horrible for the environment (mercury) and for your health (mess up your melatonin production). To me, it is not worth the savings… I do many other many saving things, such as turning off the water while brushing my teeth and only using a pea size toothpaste.

  • tobemd

    Navy showers!!!
    Lowest-water-usage toilets & showerheads & faucet aerators.
    Water bills can be almost as bad as the power bills.

  • Laurent

    A long list to take care of but to be honest I do take care of some of the things to save utilities. Like I turn off the lights and fans when not in use. I consider having a neat and healthy environment at home for which I replaced my old pane style windows and got new windows installed from value windows and doors. This has helped me to save a lot of electricity because my home is well ventilated with crossing of fresh air which keeps my home aura pleasant :)