Frugal Living: How to Save on Utilities


Living a frugal lifestyle involves more than just clipping coupons. With a little strategy you can save money in every area of your life. We have already discussed ways to save on clothing and home decor. Today we move on to the utility bill.

Analyze Your Current Expenses
If you’re wondering where your biggest money drainers are in your home, you can begin by visiting the Energy Star website and using the Home Energy Yardstick. Fill out the form to see where you stand and get recommendations for how you can save. If you prefer, you can enlist the help of an Energy Auditor who will examine your home and provide a customized report.

To get you started, here are some easy fixes you can begin implementing right away.

Programmable Thermostats
For as little as $40, you can install a programmable thermostat and save as much as 10% annually on your utility bill.  Set it for as high as you can tolerate it in the summer and as low as possible in the winter.  You can even adjust it for hours when you are sleeping or away at work.

Switch to Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
Use compact fluorescent bulbs and save as much as $100 per year.  Your initial investment to change 15 bulbs will be around $25 (twice as much as incandescents).  But because they last 10 times longer, you’ll replace them far less often.  And since they use less energy, you’ll save another $7.50 or more per month.

Eliminate Unnecessary Lighting 
With five children in our home, I was constantly turning off lamps, along with lights left on in closets and hallways.  If you have a good amount of natural light or lighting from other sources, experiment with eliminating some of these for easy savings.  Or pick up a light timer so lamps are always off when not in use.

Wash Clothes in Cold Water Only
Nearly 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes goes to heating the water.  Switch to a cold cycle whenever possible.

Off Peak Hours
Some utility companies offer lower rates in the evenings and weekends.  Call your local company to see when the off-peak hours are, and plan to do the bulk of your energy consumption during this time (like running the dryer or using the oven).

Ditch the Dryer
Line dry as much as possible.  You can begin by line drying bulky items like bedding and towels, gradually adding other items.  You can even throw them in the dryer for a few minutes at the end if you like.  The idea is to take small steps to decrease your reliance on this energy monster and see your savings add up.

Skip the heat-dry option on your dishwasher, and only wash when you have a full load.

Fill The Cracks
Seal up your ductwork and outlets to help maintain home temperature. These are areas that are often overlooked. You’ll also want to check weatherstripping on doors and windows to be sure they are in place. And don’t forget to give the attic a once-over to check for adequate amounts of insulation.

Did I miss anything? How do you keep your utility bill low?