While saving money is an incredibly HIGH priority for me, when it comes to utility savings, my busy schedule may be causing me to slack a bit. Sometimes it feels like a hassle to reset the thermostat and unplug the items I’m not using. But, there is real money to be saved when you take the time to do all the little things to be more energy efficient.
Did you know that the average U.S. household spends almost $1500 a year on electricity alone? And every year, inflation grows that number by 2.3%.
Factor in gas and water and that number climbs even higher. For many people, utilities are the second- most significant monthly expense after the mortgage payment.
So, finding ways to cut utility costs isn’t just an excellent way to be green, it can also be a lifesaver for your budget!
Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation
For this article, I want to focus on energy conservation, as opposed to energy efficiency. And while being efficient is important, it’s not an easy start for most people.
Efficiency has to do with insulation and window types, programmable thermostats, Energy-Star appliances, and other big-ticket ways to save money in the long run. Not everybody has the financial ability to be more energy efficient all at one time.
Both are important for the environment and your wallet, but conservation is a simple way to save a lot of money.
Turns out, some of the best ways to make a big difference takes a few seconds of your time.
I’m going to implement more of these into my schedule. I am not going to let the excuse of being a busy mom keep me from being a good budget mom!
Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Energy Bills
Save $104 – Use Fans
If you have ceiling fans, take advantage of them! Your A/C uses one-fourth of your household energy – about .36 cents an hour.
That’s way more than any other appliance. On the flip side, a ceiling fan costs only about a penny an hour. Now, understand that fans don’t bring down room temperature, but they do make a room FEEL cooler because of the moving air. They can also reduce the humidity in your home.
You won’t feel a difference in temperature even if you set your thermostat 4 degrees higher as long as you are using a ceiling fan.
By using a fan and bumping up 4 degrees, you are adding a penny an hour with the fan, but cutting 40% with your A/C and over 8 hours a day for 100 days of summer, saving you $104 on your summer cooling bill.
However, remember to turn off the fan every time you leave the room for an extended time! The fan is only helpful if you are there to feel the breeze.
Running it regularly when you aren’t there can add an extra $84 to your yearly electric bill.
*If your home or apartment doesn’t have ceiling fans, a small investment in an oscillating pedestal fan would more than pay for itself the first year.
Save $83 – Adjust the Thermostat.
Cooling your home consumes more energy, by far, than anything other utilities we use over the summer. And nobody wants to be uncomfortable in their home, but every degree you go up during the hot weather saves you 1% a day on your electric bill.
To be the most efficient, set your “at home” temperature to 78 degrees in the summer. Also, it’s crucial never to cool an empty house. You might as well throw your money in the garbage.
Dial your “away” temperature to 85 degrees every time you leave for more than two hours. This takes only seconds to do, a couple of times a day. By adjusting your temperature accordingly, the Department of Energy says you will save an average of $83 a year.
Save $61 – Reduce Your Hot Water Temperature
One of the most-often recommended way to cut energy cost is to turn down the temperature of your hot water heater. Reducing the 140-degree default setting to 120 degrees:
- Minimizes the mineral build up in your pipes
- Eliminates the possibility of scalding, and
- Can save you up to $61 per year.
And if you want the extra-hot water, consider turning it up just a little before you jump in the shower, and turn it back down afterward. It only takes a few seconds but saves real money.
Save $24 – Turn Off the Lights
How many times did we hear our mothers tell us this? And with good reason. Every incandescent light bulb will cost about a dollar per month to run, assuming you use the light about 5 hours per day.
Wait! I know that’s just pennies, but think about this: if you are using 60-watt incandescent bulbs and running six lamps every evening from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., you are spending $72 a year just on those lamps.
By turning off just two of them, you could save $24 a year.
Save even more by making a practice of flipping off the lights every time you walk out of a room. Better yet, think about it before you flip it on. Most of the time, we flip lights on out of habit when we don’t really need them.
Save Up to $132 – Insulate Your Hot Water Tank
Hand-in-hand with turning down the tank temperature is making a small investment in a tank insulator.
An uninsulated tank loses 25%-45% of its heat (depending on where it is located in your home, and the surrounding temperature).
Buying a tank jacket or blanket from your hardware store will cost around $30. That may seem like a hefty little chunk out of July’s budget, but consider this:
- A 50-gallon tank costs about $781 to operate each year
- Insulating your tank can save you up to 17% of that cost
- The tank jacket will pay for itself during the first season
You could potentially see a savings of $132 by wrapping up your hot water heater.
Save $70 – Reduce Water Waste.
Ideally, it’s a great idea to have low-usage faucets and toilets, but until those become necessary purchases, consider all the small ways you can cut water consumption:
- Use the lowest possible setting for your laundry load
- Don’t let the water run continuously while brushing teeth and showering
- Don’t hand-washing dishes – the dishwasher is actually more efficient
- Place a sealed jar of sand or rocks in your toilet tank to use less water
with each flush
- Take quick showers instead of full baths
By being diligent about your water usage, you can easily save 500 gallons of water each month. This can add up to a $70 yearly savings.
Save $180 – Use Energy Efficient Bulbs
While we are focusing primarily on ways to conserve energy, this is one category where you can implement efficiency on an as-needed basis. One by one, as bulbs, burn out, replace them with energy-efficient LED lights.
- Cost about $1.50 each to buy
- Have a 1-year lifespan, assuming regular use
- Cost $9 per year to operate
- Cost about $3.50 each to buy
- Have a 20+ year lifespan
- Cost under $3 per year to operate
So, if you currently have 30 bulbs in your home (a very conservative estimate) and you run them for three hours each day, you will spend about $270 per year in energy costs from your lights. But if you switch them all over to LED bulbs, you reduce that energy cost to less than $90. That’s a savings of $180. And once all the fluorescent have been changed over to LEDs, you won’t have to buy bulbs for a long, long time. Win-win!
Save $75 – Turn Off Your Computer
This little tip is so easy, but most of us never do it simply because we don’t want to wait for our computers or laptops to reboot when we want to use them again. However, to save energy, you should:
- Always turn off your monitor when you leave to go to lunch or take an extended phone call.
- Put Your PC into sleep mode at night
- Connect your computer and all the peripheral components to a single power strip and rethink the couple of minutes you have to wait for your computer to start.
Consumer Reports says you can save up to $75 a year just by putting your computer on standby, and even more if you shut off the entire power strip every night.
Add all these up to more than $700! You could save enough the first year to make an extra mortgage payment or pay off a credit card!
These are just a few of the ways we can start to make a real difference in our budgets and our environment!
Bonus Tip: Change Your Energy Supplier
Some utility companies will allow you to change your energy supplier to a lower-cost provider.