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utility bills

ng money in your budget with your utility bills

Many people are looking for ways to save on their budget lately. With increasing numbers at the grocery store, fluctuating gas prices from highs to lower numbers (I won’t say “lows”), and with the cost of goods in general increasing, finding ways to save in your budget can be hard to do. One area you can start to save additional dollars in your budget can be as simple as unplugging a lamp in a room rarely used. That’s right, we’re talking utility bills and ways you can save this year by doing a few habit changes.

How does changing my habits affect my utility bills?

So, let’s start by saying changing your habits doesn’t directly affect your utilities instantaneously, however over time, the consistent change could end up saving you some money in the end. We have moved to a culture and a society where many things are instantaneous, but delaying the gratification of power at our fingertips for an additional 2 .5 seconds should help your bottom line.

And we don’t mean switching from your light bulbs to candles. However, we may encourage you to change the type of light bulb you may be using.

Ways to save on utilities by changing a few simple habits


  • Set your computer settings to turn themselves off after a certain amount of time. On average, you’re not using this at-home device somewhere between 8-16 hours a day. This can be an additional 33% of your power consumption that you could potentially save.

  • Another tip if you are on your computer a lot at home (i.e. on work from home days), use the “sleep mode” setting. This doesn’t completely shut down your computer if you have not been using it for the set time, but it turns the screen off and stops running any programs you have open, creating a low-power state. Remember, the more time your screen is on, the more energy you are using. If you aren’t using it, save some change and watch the extra dollars stack up in the end.

  • And bonus, by turning the computer off, you should be improving the longevity of the device by not having it run all the time.

Unused appliances/items around the house

  • Again, like computers, if you are not using an item, it’s best to turn it off…. or unplug it. Because even though an item like a coffee maker/pot isn’t being used, it is still pulling a small amount of energy while plugged into an outlet.

  • Most unused appliances/items don’t need to stay plugged in unless they have to be charged. Some examples of these include toasters, Air Fryer, Instantpot, radios (do people still have these?), and lamps/tv sets in rooms rarely used to name a few.

  • And if you really want to get crazy, after you have done charging your phone or battery, unplug the charger or docking station.


  • Try to only run the dishwasher when it is full vs. only half-full loads. It takes a lot of energy to run the dishwasher and takes energy to heat the water to clean the dishes, so is a double hit. Even though those washer pods may not be expensive, the running of the dishwasher is more so.

Clothes Dryers

  • Do you remember your mom, aunt, or grandma hanging clothes out on the line on a nice sunny day? It may not hurt to take a trip down memory lane every once in a while if you have the opportunity to hang clothes out on the line. Not only will you get the benefit of air-dried linen to fill your clothes baskets, but it will help you save on your electric bill at the end of the month.

  • Of course, this is all dependent on if you have the time, and live in an area that can allow that. Being from Ohio, we did not hang clothes up during the winter months because let’s be real, our jeans would be stiff from ice, not starch. However, I have vivid memories of my mom hanging our clothes up outside much of the summers growing up, and I do have to say, there is something about putting on an air/sundried shirt that just puts you in a good mood.

Hot Water Tank

  • Consider lowering the heat on your hot water tank. By doing this, you are decreasing the amount of energy sent to heat water before use. Now as someone who likes to take long, hot showers, it does mean you have to be more mindful of your time, so it definitely becomes a personal preference with this one!

Use the elements to your advantage

  • This may only benefit those who reside in cooler climates, but if you live in an area where temps fall into or below the 30* mark, consider using your garage during winter months as additional storage vs. overrunning your refrigerator. My family always stored additional Christmas cookies in Tupperware containers in the garage, along with pop (or soda for non-Ohioans) during the winter months.

Heating and cooling

  • Consider turning your heat down (or AC up depending on the time of year) while you are away from home. Why spend the money to heat or cool your house when you are not there? Especially if you are going to be gone for long periods of time. This would include work days (typically gone from 8-9 hours a day), day trips from the house, weekends away, or vacations.

  • A great way to help you control this is a programable thermostat. We have ours set to go down when we leave the house in the morning, come back up slightly right around the time we get home, then go back down around the time we go to bed because we like our room chilled at night to sleep.

Light Bulbs

  • Three letters you should become familiar with when it comes to your lighting…. LED. I’ll admit, these light bulbs are more expensive upfront, however, they have multiple reasons to switch. First, they have a longer lifespan than the average light bulb, needing to be replaced less often. They are also more efficient with energy, in turn costing you less on your electric bill.

  • Put in dimmer switches if you can. These allow you to lower light usage, and help you control how much light is being put out, meaning lower electricity usage.

Closing doors and turning off lights

  • “Don’t let out all the bought air!” – Does anyone else remember this line from the movie Sweet Home Alabama? Or has anyone in their family ever said something similar? What does this even mean? Well basically, it means don’t let the cool (or hot) air you are literally paying for, escape out the door.

  • If I heard this once, I’ve heard it a million times from both my husband and my father while growing up. And as much as it pains me to admit both of them are right, they are right. Closing the door and not letting it swing open while you run quickly into the garage or front yard for something, or leaving the fridge open as you stare into it telling yourself “You’re not hungry and don’t need a snack”, to turning off the lights when you walk out of a room, ALL save you money on your utility bills.

  • By closing the doors in and out of the house, and in between grabbing things from the refrigerator while prepping for dinner, you are allowing the house (or fridge) to maintain its normal temperature by not letting the cool (or warm air) out. When you leave the door open, you are making the systems work harder and taking the fridge or house longer to adjust back to the set temperature, thus costing you more money because more energy is being spent.

  • And lastly, turn off the lights when the room is not in use. Again, I am eating crow as I know my husband is reading this. This was a habit even as an adult that I have been working very hard at in trying to save energy and not waste electricity by leaving lights on in rooms after I leave them.

Change is hard

No one likes change, and making changes means being mindful in a fast-paced world. But by making conscious efforts, and putting forth the effort to make even a few of the suggested habit changes, you could end up saving yourself some wiggle room in your budget at the end of the year. I am not talking thousands of dollars at the end of the year – that would be cutting some of these luxuries out altogether. The savings may be small upfront or at the start of things, but if you consistently get better at them, they will eventually add up to larger numbers that mean savings in the end.

Habits take time

Maybe you don't want to try them all out at once, but rather challenge yourself each month by taking on a new habit to change. See what works for you, your family, and your lifestyle. If leaving the coffee pot plugged in makes your mornings easier, you can skip that one. But I do suggest trying at least 1-2 of these suggestions out and seeing how putting them into practice for a few months can move the needle.


August 19, 2022

Lindsey Curry

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