Save our infographic and jump to the most useful tips for saving money on utilities for you! Also, we saved the best for last. #31 is one of the highest returns on investment you can make in your home.
It doesn’t take long for most homeowners to find out how easily utility bills can get out of hand. Between the energy needed to run your appliances, heat and cool your house, and perform regular household chores, these bills can easily become excessive during the winter and summer months.
With utility bills ranking as the fourth largest expense (11 percent) for most U.S. households, it’s important that you do everything you can to optimize your needs as much as possible. To help save you money, here are 31 tips and tricks you can use to lower your utility bills and keep your home running as efficiently as possible.
- Use a smart thermostat
- Switch to LED lightbulbs
- Use smart motion lightbulbs
- Insulate your outlets and switches
- Use smart plugs
- Use ceiling fans correctly
- Wash your clothes on cold
- Clean the dryer lint filter every time
- Use a wool dryer ball
- Rinse dishes with cold water
- Adjust the temperature of the refrigerator and freezer
- Maximize dishwasher capacity
- Turn off the heat dry setting on the dishwasher
- Use your oven in the winter
- Cook outdoors in the summer
- Purchase energy-efficient appliances
- Take shorter showers
- Don’t let the water run while brushing teeth
- Switch to low flow showerheads and faucets
- Adjust the floater in the toilet
- Add weatherstripping to windows and doors
- Be strategic with window coverings
- Consider upgrading your windows
- Turn down the hot water heater
- Insulate the hot water heater
- Insulate your pipes
- Change your furnace’s air filter regularly
- Have your furnace professionally inspected
- Add insulation to the attic
- Check for leaks
- DO A HOME ENERGY AUDIT!
Around the House
1. Start Using a Programmable Thermostat
When you’re gone during the day or asleep at night, you’re far less likely to need as much heat and cool air. The best way to regulate the temperate and have it automatically adjust when you don’t need it is to use a programmable thermostat.
The EPA estimates that using a programmable thermostat can save you as much as 10 to 30 percent off your energy bills. Not only are they relatively cheap and easy to install, it only takes a few minutes to set up a program to your liking. You can even purchase smart thermostats that will learn your preferences and can detect when you’re in the room.
2. Swap Out Your Lightbulbs
If your house still uses traditional incandescent bulbs, it’s time to swap these out. 90 percent of the energy used by old fashioned light bulbs is given off as heat. Instead, switch to halogen incandescent, CFL, or LED light bulbs.
3. Use Smart Motion Light Bulbs
If you or the other people in your house have a bad habit of leaving the lights on in places that no one is using, then there’s a solution for that. Switch to smart motion light bulbs that will automatically shut off if there is no activity detected.
4. Insulate Your Outlets and Light Switches
Depending on how your home was built, one place you may not be expecting hot and cold air to escape through are the outlets and light switch boxes in your walls. For less than a few bucks, you can add simple insulation pads to the backs of the cover plates that will help prevent energy loss.
5. Use Smart Plugs
A lot of the time the electronics and appliances in our houses are using energy even when we’re no longer using them. Rather than trying to remember to unplug each of these devices, switch to smart plugs that will automatically cut their power when they are not in use.
6. Use Ceiling Fans Correctly
If your house uses ceiling fans, be sure you are using them correctly. Set them to spin counterclockwise in the summertime to pull warm air up and clockwise in the winter to push warm air downward.
Kitchen and Laundry
7. Wash Your Clothes on the Cold Setting
Though lots of people think that washing their clothes with warm water will do a better job to sanitize and remove stains, the truth is that it will not. Hot water can make stains worse in some cases as well as shrink or wear out your clothes faster. Therefore, stick to the more energy-efficient option of using cold water instead.
8. Clean the Dryer Lint Filter Every Time
In order for your dryer to run at maximum efficiency, air has to be able to pass freely through the lint filter. Depending on how much laundry you do, it will be best if you can get in the habit of cleaning it out with every load of laundry. The other major benefit is saving thousands in damages from a potential fire!
9. Use a Wool Dryer Ball
One of the reasons it takes so long for your clothes to dry is because they tend to stick together when they’re wet. To help your dryer run up to 15% more efficiently, throw in a few wool dryer balls. This will help to lift and separate the items so that the warm air can pass between them.
10. Rinse Your Dishes with Cold Water
As you’re pre-cleaning your dishes before they go into the dishwasher, there’s no reason to use warm or hot water. Rinsing your dishes using cold water to remove most unwanted food just the same.
11. Adjust Your Refrigerator and Freezer Temperature
Just because you can set the temperature in your fridge and freezer doesn’t mean you have to set it to the lowest possible setting. The FDA recommends setting your refrigerator temperature at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) and the freezer to 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) for optimal efficiency.
12. Maximize Your Dishwasher Capacity
Unfortunately, most conventional dishwashers are only programmed to use the same amount of energy regardless of how many items are actually inside. That means to get the best bang for your buck, you should fill your dishwasher to its full capacity before every run.
13. Turn Off the Heat Dry Setting on Your Dishwasher
If your dishwasher has a Heat Dry setting, turn it off to save money on energy. You can dry off the dishes yourself with a towel while you put them away.
14. Use Your Oven in the Winter
Depending on how your kitchen connects to the rest of your house, the way you cook can be strategic for your energy costs. During the cold winter months, using your oven will add heat to the air and reduce the amount of work that your furnace needs to perform.
15. Cook Outdoors in the Summer
Conversely in the summertime, since you want it to be cool indoors, you should avoid using your oven. Instead, cook outside on the grill where the excess heat can easily escape into the open air.
16. Purchase Energy-Efficient Appliances Next Time
The next time you’re faced with replacing one of your major appliances, strongly consider purchasing products bearing the Energy Star logo. Energy Star is a program by the EPA and the Department of Energy, and it’s been estimated they can save you as much as 10 to 50 percent off your bills. These appliances may cost a little bit more than other available models, it is a purchase that quickly pays for itself in reduced energy costs.
In the Bathroom
17. Take Shorter Showers
One of the biggest wastes of hot water in your home is long showers. Especially if you live with multiple family members or have an older hot water tank, running your shower for an extended period is going to waste both a lot of water as well as energy to keep it warm. Try to be conscious of your shower sessions by keeping them as short and efficient as possible.
18. Don’t Run the Water While You’re Brushing Your Teeth
Another place where you’re literally pouring money down the drain is when you leave the water running while brushing your teeth. Experts estimate that this wastes as much as 1,000 gallons of water per year. Instead, turn the faucet off and only use the water when it’s needed; typically at the beginning and end of your tooth-brushing session.
19. Switch to Low-Flow Shower Heads and Faucets
In addition to consciously using less water, you can also add low-flow attachments to your shower and faucets to make them automatically reduced. For instance, a low-flow showerhead uses just 262 gallons of water per month whereas a standard 2.5 GPM showerhead will use nearly 440 gallons. That means by simply swapping out your shower head, you could be saving as much as 60 percent on water every month.
20. Adjust the Floater in the Toilet
Most people don’t think about how much water a toilet requires, but this can easily be another place where you can conserve on water usage. You can do this by simply taking the lid off the tank and adjusting the floater. This will reduce how much water fills up after every flush and ultimately saves you money.
Windows and Openings
21. Add Weatherstripping to Windows and Doors
Drafty windows and door openings are an easy place for hot and cold air to escape. To fix this, add some thin weather stripping around the perimeter of the opening to reduce air passage.
Weatherstripping is relatively cheap to purchase and can easily be cut to any desired length. This simple trick can save you as much as 5 to 10 percent off your energy bill for the year.
22. Be Strategic with Your Window Coverings
Most people think of window coverings such as curtains or drapes as being for looks. But they can also be used to save you money on your energy bill costs too.
If you hang window coverings that can easily be pulled back in the winter to allow sunlight into your house, this will help to heat the interior using natural solar power. Conversely, if you use coverings in the summer to prevent too much sunlight from entering, this will help keep the indoors nice and cool.
23. Consider Replacing Your Windows
Window technology has come a long way in the past few decades, and if you’ve got a home that is still using single-pane windows, then it may be time to consider replacing them. Even if you’ve already got double-pane windows, upgrading to the latest energy-efficient models could end up saving you a significant amount of money in lost energy costs.
Downstairs and the Attic
24. Turn Down the Hot Water Heater
The hot water heater is often a source of wasted energy that not a lot of people think about. Usually, it gets set one time and then might not be looked at again for several more years or even decades later.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends setting your water heater to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). If you can stand water that is cooler than this (such as while you’re taking a shower), then adjust the temperature even lower to save some additional money in energy costs.
25. Insulate Your Water Heater
Even though the water in your water tank is heated up, it too can lose heat the longer it sits. To help reduce the amount of energy needed to keep it warm, you can put an approved hot water jacket or blanket around the tank to provide insulation.
26. Insulate Your Pipes
Once the hot water leaves your water heater and travels through the pipes of your house, it could also lose some of its heat. To prevent this, wrap your copper pipes with insulation.
27. Change Your Furnace Air Filter
For your furnace to work at maximum efficiency, airflow must be able to pass through it as freely as possible. Therefore, as the filter picks up dust and debris, it will need to be changed every so often. Most experts recommend doing this every 1 to 3 months depending on how often you run your furnace or how dirty the filter gets.
28. Have Your Furnace Professionally Inspected Regularly
Another way to keep your furnace running at optimal efficiency and prolong its life is to have it checked every so often. A licensed professional will be able to inspect it, ensure that all of the functions are working properly, and let you know if any preventative measures need to be taken. Depending on the age and condition of your furnace, this may only be necessary every 1 to 3 years.
29. Add Insulation to the Attic
Since heat rises, it should make sense that the majority of your heat loss will be through the roof of your house. The best way to minimize energy loss is to have a sufficient amount of insulation in your attic. There are several different methods you can use to accomplish this such as adding loose-fill fiberglass or laying out rolled batts of insulation.
30. Check for Leaks
Sometimes energy loss can be in the most unexpected spots or even hidden from the naked eye. If you’ve already taken some of the previous steps, then a next-level approach may be to use a temperature or infrared sensor. These devices can help you pinpoint specific places where drafts may be present and additional insulation may be necessary.
Last, but definitely not least.
31. Do a Home Energy Audit
One preventative measure that all homeowners can take is to perform a home energy audit. This is when a professional conducts a comprehensive inspection of your home to detect possible efficiency issues with your appliances, insulation, and much more. Though it can cost you a few hundred dollars to perform, a home energy audit could end up saving thousands of dollars on your energy bills. It’s definitely worth the money!