29 Ways to Save a Small Fortune on Your Energy Bill

1. Forgo using your central heating system and opt for space heaters (this is especially effective if you have a larger house and are really only in a few rooms during the day anyway).

2. Use ceiling fans instead of the air conditioner.

3. Use cold water to wash your laundry.

4. Use a clothesline.

5. Use compact fluorescents in lieu of regular light bulbs. This is a quick fix and the payback is there.

6. Hibernate your computer when it’s not in use.

7. Replace your AC filters when required (or use a permanent filter and simply wash it monthly).

8. Close the AC vents in rooms you don’t use.

9. If you have an old AC unit (10+ years old), replace it! The newer models use up to 50% less electricity.

10. Use a programmable thermostat for a central air unit and turn the air off while you’re at work.

11. This main seem simple, but make sure your fans are all spinning the right way :) You want to be pushing the air DOWN.

12. Knock the thermostat up a few degrees and see if you notice a difference. If you don’t, you just saved yourself 2-3 percent.

13. I love plants and gardening, so I’m also down with planting shade trees strategically (this can knock temperatures down by 20 degrees in a now-shaded room!).

14. Insulate your attic. Poor insulation may mean you’re losing 30-40% of the cool air in your house.

15. Make sure your ducts aren’t leaking anywhere.

16. Keep an eye on windows and doors to ensure they’re sealed properly.

17. Block sunlight with window coverings (drapes, blinds, shutters, etc.).

18. Install reflective film on windows that take a lot of sun. Payback on this is three to five years (though that may vary based on your own energy costs in your area). It doesn’t block the light — just the heat. Very cool.

19. Use rugs on bare floors to keep a room warmer.

20. Throw on an extra layer and lower your thermostat during colder seasons.

21. Use a special tank blanket to wrap your water heater’s tank (if you don’t use tankless). It’s not a huge savings though — about $20/year. (From Anthony, a commenter below: “There’s a huge, huge, ‘it depends’ here. Newer water heaters (we replaced ours in 2007) are much more efficient and don’t need this. More importantly, check your warranty – many say that the warranty will be voided if you use one of these blankets.” — Thanks for the caveat Anthony!)

22. Fix any leaky faucets.

23. If you’re shopping for a new dryer, get one with a moisture sensor. You’ll never run it longer than you need to!

24. Consider a front-loading washer. They use less water and they leave less water in your clothes (which means less work for your dryer).

25. Clean your lint filter after each load.

26. When the dryer’s running in the summer, close the door (keep the heat out) and in the winter, open the door (let the heat in).

27. Use motion sensors for outside lighting (payback’s usually 3-5 months).

28. Use motion sensing lights for the interior as well!

29. Increase the temperature of your fridge/freezer to the highest recommendation. You’ll save 5-10% of electricity that way and won’t notice a difference.

These tips won’t make you rich, but I find it very fulfilling to not be wasteful. Your own mileage may vary.

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About jesse

Jesse is the founder of YouNeedABudget.com. When he’s not speaking on, writing about, fine-tuning software for, or doing his own budgeting, he enjoys playing the piano, working in the garden, CrossFit, marksmanship, and honing his golf swing. Jesse graduated from Brigham Young University with a Masters of Accountancy degree. Immediately after he obtained his CPA license, he let it lapse so he could work on "You Need A Budget" full-time. Jesse lives in Utah, is married to Julie, and has five children. You can conect with Jesse on Google+ here.

12 thoughts on “29 Ways to Save a Small Fortune on Your Energy Bill

  1. Re:

    21. Use a special tank blanket to wrap your water heater’s tank (if you don’t use tankless). It’s not a huge savings though — about $20/year.

    There’s a huge, huge, “it depends” here. Newer water heaters (we replaced ours in 2007) are much more efficient and don’t need this. More importantly, check your warranty – many say that the warranty will be voided if you use one of these blankets.

  2. A great energy saving alternative to replacing your windows is installing a year round insulating window film, like Energy Film. http://www.Energy-Film.com These films are non-adhesive, easy to install and can save up to 12-18% on your heating and cooling bills annually.

    I purchased mine from home depot and they seem to be working great!

  3. I am confused by #26, If we leave the door open on the dryer at least some of the clothes will fall out on the floor and the advice seems to be the reverse of what I would do since our dryer is in the garage, an uncontrolled temperature space, that is very hot on summer afternoons and pretty cold in the winter even in southern california.

    • Hi Brad. About the door being left open, that’s the door to the laundry room, not the door to the dryer itself. Since your dryer is in a garage, it’s a moot point for you.

  4. In reference to #5 suggestion, check out using LED bulbs to replace your the light bulb in your refrigerator. LED bulbs use less than 20% of the energy of a flourescent bulb and in a refrigerator that means less heat from the internal light bulb to pump back out from when you close the door again. LED bulbs will last a lot longer if the ambient temperature where they are used in cool or cold. I know that the bulbs are expensive but they have a very long life and use very little power. Do a search with Google for “LED Light Bulbs” see what you find.

  5. It may not help a lot, but we have our TV/DVD/Cable Box plugged into a power strip. These devices draw a small amount of power if left plugged in. At bedtime, we flip the strip off. It’s off from 11PM until 8:00PM the next day.

    Also, we’ve started turning off our laptops (2) at night, and they don’t go on until we get home from work the next day.

    Never leave cell phone power supplies plugged in. Basically, everything that does not need power through the day is UNPLUGGED.

  6. Regarding the lint filter, sometimes it may not be allowing adequate air through. To check, after you get the lint off, run water in it. If water does not flow through easily, wash it! I think a film develops from dryer sheet use, or maybe just microscopic lint fibers.

  7. #11 only applies if you want to cool the room. If you want to move warm air around, you want the air to go UP in the middle. Heat vents are usually placed near outside walls. The warm air rises along those walls, cooling as it rises and travels along the ceiling. It then falls in the middle, as it cools more.

    By moving air up with the fan, you’re pulling the warm air along the floor, where you feet want it, and up the middle of the room, to cool as it moves down the walls.

  8. I’m confused over point 29, do you mean this is not weather dependant, and we should have the fridge up at its highest cooling ability at all times throughout the year? Wouldn’t that use considerably more electricity in summer, than just having it on the middle area?

    • @Kim, sorry. In re-reading that, I wasn’t very clear. Usually a freezer/refrigerator will have a recommended temperature — just adjust your freezer/refrigerator to be at the maximum recommended temperature (warmest).

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