Did you see that Kansas Gas Service asked for yet another rate hike this week – totaling an estimated $28 million? Meanwhile I’m over here turning off and unplugging various home appliances to conserve energy. These price hikes will only keep coming, so saving on your home’s utilities is turning into a must. I’ve compiled a list of 33 of my BEST tips to keeping your utilities at a minimum – with minimal effort and without spending a dime.
33 Ways to Lower Your Utility Bills
Refrigerators and Freezers:
The highest energy siphons in your home are your refrigerator and your freezers. I say freezer(s) because as a couponer, I have three. 😀
1.) Freezers operate most efficiently when full. Cold food stays cold longer than cold air does, so the less air that needs to circulate, the more efficiently your freezer will operate. To cut costs, fill empty milk jugs with water and throw them in the freezer to fill up vacant space.
2.) Same principal as your freezer – as long as your fridge isn’t stuffed to the gills, the fuller the better. Check your damper, you don’t want anything right up against it that could cause your fridge to work harder.
We had a repair man out years ago only tell us that a produce bag (holding lettuce?) had been pressed up against the damper – not allowing air to circulate. Doh!
3.) Let your leftovers cool completely before throwing them in the fridge. Your refrigerator will have to work less to cool it down. That’s not to say you should leave them out all evening of course. If you’re in a hurry you could place the food storage container in an ice bath, or stick some of these reusable ice cubes in the food.
4.) Make sure that the seal on your fridge is nice and tight. Test it out by placing a dollar bill in the door and shutting it. If you can pull the bill out easily, you’re losing energy.
5.) Try and wait for a full load before you run the dishwasher. If you really need those dishes clean (leaving for vacation etc) and you’ve got the option to run just the top rack, take it!
6.) Don’t use the heat dry feature. Unless you’ve got reason to, you’re simply heating your dishes for no reason at all. Let them air dry and save that energy.
7.) Make a habit of checking for clogged food or other particles in the drain on a regular basis. Some recommend once per week, we do bi-weekly – on payday – so I remember!
8.) Use glass or ceramic bake ware – they hold heat better, meaning that you don’t need to run your oven as high – typically about 25 degree difference. Less heat = less cost.
9.) When self-cleaning your oven, do it immediately after baking. The oven is already piping hot – capitalize on that!
10.) If baking – especially in the summer – bake a double batch. I take leftovers to work just about every single day. I’ll eat the “extra batches” for lunch all. week. long.
Bonus: Count this as a “free” lunch! Try some of our amazing recipes right over here.
Washing Machine and Dryer:
11.) Wash your clothes using cold water if possible, with cold water detergent. This saves energy as you are not heating up the water.
12.) Always try to run a full load – or adjust the load size if needed. You’ll save energy and water.
13.) Don’t over-fill your clothes dryer. Same principal as the damper in the fridge as noted above. If the air can’t circulate, how’s it supposed to dry your clothes? Heat alone? Even more energy wasted.
14.) Make sure to keep your lint trap clean. Not only is this an energy sucker, it can be a fire hazard as well.
Heating and Air Conditioning:
15.) According to leading experts, adjusting your thermostat by just 1 degree makes up to a 3% difference in your energy bill. ONE degree! If you’re used to having your home set at 68 degrees, inch your way up to 71 and see if you can live with it. That is a 9% decrease in your monthly bill!! Can’t do three whole degrees? You can try at least one. 😉
16.) Do not block heat registers or return air vents. If the air can’t flow, it can’t do its job, forcing your unit to work harder.
17.) Use ceiling fans to help circulate air. Use a low speed to push warm air down in the winter and to help keep an even temperature.
18.) Use reusable air filters. You’re supposed to be changing these out every single month. Do you? By using reusable filters, you’ll save bundles over the years. Paul kept our last filter to use as a back up while the reusable is drying after it’s monthly cleaning.
19.) Use an extra blanket at night instead of turning up the heater. Every degree counts!
20.) If you have a programmable thermostat – take advantage of it! By setting the thermostat to adjust temperature automatically while you’re gone and again at night and then in the morning, you could save up to 20%!
21.) Make a habit of cleaning leaves and debris from your central a/c unit. Any buildup reduces air flow which forces your unit to work harder.
22.) Every so often, compare the meter reading against your utility bill. While you’re likely to notice a large error, it never hurts to take a peek and compare either.
Tip from a reader: keep your fan running in the spring/summer (if not stifling hot) to help circulate air. The fan moves the cool air up from the basement. Or you could just hang out in the basement! 🙂
23.) Take advantage of natural lighting. If possible, arrange your furniture so that when you open blinds, the natural sunlight warms your couch or love seat. If you’re warmer in the sunlight, you’ll need to use your furnace less. Use the opposite concept during the summer.
24.) Place lamps in corners if possible. The illumination in the corner creates an illusion of more lighting without having two lamps turned on.
26.) Set your water heater to 120 degrees. For a family of four each taking 5 minute showers, that should suffice without wasting energy.
27.) Turn off the water as you shave or brush your teeth. No need to have it running the entire time if you’re not constantly using it. I personally brush my teeth while taking my shower in the morning. Two birds!
28.) Check your water heater for an “on vacation” setting. If you’ve got it, use it!
29.) If you’ve got a leaky faucet or a toilet that runs, spend the money for parts and fix it. A leaky faucet can waste over 200 gallons of water every single month!
Overall Energy Saving:
30.) Make a nightly energy sweep. I’m sure you already walk your house before bed, making sure the doors are locked. Start checking for electronics plugged in (or turned on) that may not need to be while you’re at it.
*Do you have a guest room with a clock and a TV that is rarely used? Unplug them! You can always plug them in before company arrives, and you’re not throwing money out the window in the interim.
31.) After your first cup of coffee in the morning, turn off and unplug the coffee maker. Use a thermal cup if needed, and drink hot coffee all morning long.
32.) Consider Average Billing for your utilities. Our monthly energy bills (gas and electric combined) are usually in the same cost range every single month (unless it’s 100 degrees for two straight months). Taking advantage of the utility company’s average billing policy won’t save you money exactly, but it helps you to budget your finances – if nothing else.
33.) Seal any cracks, use weather stripping on exterior doors, caulk windows if needed to better insulate your home. While this tip isn’t completely free, you’ll see the difference in your monthly bills and the work will pay for itself shortly.