7 Ways to Save Money on Utilities (and Exactly How Much These Small Changes Could Save You)

Save money on utilities

By Lauren Bringle, AFC®

Want to know how to save money on utilities? Maybe even help the environment a little too? Here are 7 ways going green could save you green when it comes to your utility bills...

And just how much that savings could add up.

1 - Unplug devices you’re not using

When it comes to learning how to save on utilities, your devices may be able to help you lower your energy bill. Unplugging devices you’re not using could save you up to $100-$200 per year, according to Direct Energy.

Think about it. In many homes, $100-$200 per year is equal to saving your entire electric bill for a whole month.

Here are some things to think about unplugging when you’re not using them:

  • Small appliances, like a coffee pot or toaster
  • Your phone charger
  • Lamps
  • Any other minor appliances or devices that have easily-accessible plugs
Sound like too much to keep track of? Try plugging several items into a single surge protector. Then you only have to unplug that one surge protector.

Or you can use a smart surge protector that has an app letting you control each outlet. Android Central put together a handy list here.

2 - Turn off the water when brushing your teeth

This could save you about $65 per year, or about 13% of your total water bill, according to Money.com. While $65 is only about $5 per month, when it comes to saving money, every little bit counts.

$65 could instead (for some people):

  • Go towards emergency savings
  • Cover a trip to the grocery store
  • Cover a one-month gym membership
  • Or however else you want to use it
Bonus? You also get to help the environment on this one. Especially if you live in an area where drought is common.

3 - Turn your thermostat back 7-10 degrees

Just by turning your programmable thermostat back 7-10 degrees, you could save up to 10% per year on utilities, according to the Department of Energy. That means no cranking the heat up in winter or the air conditioner down in summer. By reducing your energy usage with your air conditioning and hot water heater, you'll be able to cut down on utility costs throughout the year.

While 10% might sound vague, think about it…

If you saved 10% of a $100 utility bill each month, that’s $10 per month ($120 per year).

The caveat is you have to do this for at least 8 hours per day. So if you live in a cold climate, hopefully you’ve got a big, cozy sweater and thick socks to keep you warm instead of cranking up your programmable thermostat!

Or if you’re in a hotter state like Texas and things heat up, well...just close your blinds first, please. Your neighbors don’t want to see that.

4 - Wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot

Are you always using the hot water setting on your washing machine? Using water heating for your washing appliance can lead to a high level of energy consumption. Washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot could save you up to $60 per year, according to Smithsonian Magazine. That’s because about 75% of the energy for a load of laundry is used just to heat the water.

Bonus? Cold water could also make your clothes last longer, reducing the need to spend as much money buying replacement items.

5 - Skip the dryer and line-dry instead

Drying a load of laundry costs anywhere from about 34 cents to 49 cents per load, according to “Mr. Electricity.” If you do 4 loads of laundry per week, that adds up to about $71-$103 per year.

That's quite a chunk of change just from your washing machine and dryer.

So if you really need to cut back on costs, and want to save energy and make your clothes last longer, try hang-drying.

6 - Switch your light bulbs to LED bulbs

One of the easiest money saving tips is switching to LED bulbs. This simple swap could save you up to $45 per year on your electric bills, per the Department of Energy.

While you might not be able to pocket these savings from your energy bill immediately, realize that $45 per year is about 6 months of a basic-level Netflix account.

7 - Take shorter showers

Cutting your daily shower from 12 minutes to 4 minutes could save you anywhere from $10-$130 per year in water and energy use.

For more info on hot water savings, check out the EPA and Department of Energy. They even have a worksheet to calculate your water savings.

This wide range in just how much it could save depends on things like the flow rate of your shower head, the local cost of water and energy and your water heater’s efficiency, among others.

Small changes add up to BIG savings

The grand possible total saved if you implement all these strategies for a full year? Up to $723.

While everyone’s individual utility company, usage and situation would make that actual number look different from person-to-person, this is a clear example of how small changes can add up to big savings.

After all, what would you do if you had an extra $723 each year?

That sounds like a pretty healthy emergency savings fund to me… (or car down payment, extra debt payment, or however else you’d like to put that money towards your financial goals).

Bottom line? When it comes to finding ways to save money, don’t underestimate the little things.

About the author

Lauren Bringle is an Accredited Financial Counselor® with Self Financial– a financial technology company with a mission to help people build credit and savings. See Lauren on Linkedin and Twitter.

Editorial Policy

Our goal at Self is to provide readers with current and unbiased information on credit, financial health, and related topics. This content is based on research and other related articles from trusted sources. All content at Self is written by experienced contributors in the finance industry and reviewed by an accredited person(s).

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Written on May 19, 2020
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