January Money Diet Day 14 – Lower Your Utility Bills

Save energy

See if you can be creative and save some electricity, gas and water this month. You may also want to have your utility bills from 2013 handy, to complete today’s homework assignment.

To save energy, try wearing a sweater and turning down the heat; see how that feels and adjust accordingly. Be vigilant about turning out lights when you leave the room, and unplug appliances so they don’t use power while sitting idle. (Anything with a little power light on is drawing electricity.) Cook dinner in the slow cooker instead of the stove. The clothes dryer is the second-highest energy use appliance, so you can enjoy significant savings by hanging your clothes to dry. In a chilly climate? You can often find places inside to hang your clothes, increasing humidity and taking advantage of the warm air you’re paying to heat.

To save water, take a quicker shower. Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth. Research drip lines, rain barrels and xeriscape landscaping plants to save money in the garden. Ask for a low-flow showerhead for your birthday. If you don’t have a water efficient toilet, you can retrofit yours this month with materials you probably have around the house and save up to 3000 gallons a year. (Just don’t put a brick in the tank! Bricks break down over time and can damage the toilet.)

If you have some CFLs or LEDs on hand, are there any old incandescent lightbulbs you can switch out? I was amazed how much our bills went down as we transitioned away from incandescent bulbs. Try eating dinner by candlelight, or light an oil lamp for light once or twice this month (my son loves it when we do this). Throw an extra blanket on the bed at night and try turning down the heater by one degree. Okay? Try another degree. How low can you go? We have down comforters on our beds, and we’ve grown to love sleeping with the heat turned way down, cozy under the covers.

Turn down your hot water heater a degree or two and see how you like it. Maybe it’s fine, maybe another degree or two down wouldn’t hurt — either way, it’s just an experiment. (The U.S. Dept. of Energy recommends a setting of 120 degrees F.) If you already have materials like caulking or weatherstripping on hand, go around the house on a chilly day and seal those drafty areas.

Today’s Homework Assignment: Get out your utility bills for the past year, and make a simple spreadsheet showing how much water, gas/heating oil and electricity you used each month during 2013. Try to beat last year’s totals each month during 2014. Let January be the month you dabble in conservation, and let us know any steps you take this month to reduce energy or water usage.

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

3 comments to January Money Diet Day 14 – Lower Your Utility Bills

  • Eliza, I love this challenge today. Some people just don’t realize how a little time and pennies can add up to huge savings. I switched all my light fixtures out with CFL and LED and am slowly replacing the CFLs with LEDs as the price comes down, only 3 more to go. 🙂 I caulked the window, added weather stripping to the door and made draft dodgers for the bottom of the door. I also added 2 filled bottles to my toilet tank to off-set the water used when flusing I don’t own a refrigerator after realizing I needed a freezer more. I have a small chest freezer which I lined with plastic bottles I filled 3/4 way full with water. This once the water froze it helps to reduce how often the freezer needed to turn on to keep the interior cold and in the case of a power outage will keep my food from spoiling. The added plus is that I can remove these as needed if I didn’t have water in an outage as well.

    I have no idea what my savings are as my utilities are included in my rent but there was no way I was going to waste energy even if I wasn’t paying the bills myself.

    • Mea Johnson

      Lois, this sounds like an amazing system..I was reading it and trying to understand how it works. How do you refrigerator you food? I love using alternative energy and have also implemented many systems to be more energy efficient. I would like to try it if possible. I do keep my freezer packed, as I heard that that was am important way to keep from wasting energy. Tell me more!!

  • Julia

    Lowered the heat/temp. This experiment did not go over well w/hubby. Much growling, so marriage is about compromise right? He tolerate much of my hair brained schemes so we will let this one go in favor of a peaceful house. This doesn’t mean I won’t turn it down when he isn’t home. I just I have to remember to turn it back up before he gets home!!!

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