Easy Yet Creative Ways to Cut Your Utility Bills

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cut your utility billsI recently wrote a guest post for another personal finance blog about my $11 electric bill during the month of January 2013. I was pleasantly surprised to see when the post garnered a whole bunch of questions and comments, most of which revolved around the idea of “how in the world did you get your bill down so low?” One commenter even wrote that she doubted she could open her garage door for such a little sum.

So how did I slash my electric bill? How have I slashed all of my utility bills over the past few years?

Here are some of the easy ways I’ve cut my bills down by hundreds of dollars:

Sweep the house nightly. No, I’m not talking about busting out the broom or vacuum—I’m talking about doing a final sweep of the entire house each night before going to bed to ensure everything has been turned off or unplugged. You’d be amazed how much your bill can creep up from simple things such as leaving the hall light on overnight or keeping the porch light burning until you leave for work the next morning.

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Avoid the phantom load. Phantom load refers to the amount of electricity a device still uses even when not in use. An example would be leaving your phone charger plugged into the wall even after your phone has been charged and disconnected from the charger. With the charger in the wall, it’s still pulling a small amount of electricity to be “ready” for the next thing it’s plugged into. This is also true for TVs and DVD players. My solution is to plug everything into a surge-protecting power strip and flip the switch off each night.

Turn down the temperature. This suggestion is for more than just your thermostat—you should also turn down your water heater (to 120 degrees) to save upwards of $400 each year!!

Burn a candle. Your best bet at identifying heating/cooling leaks in your home? Light a candle and carefully walk around as you pay attention to the smoke and flame. An indication of a leak that should be plugged immediately would be a change in direction of the flame or the smoke being pulled towards a window or door.

Stock the shelves. If your refrigerator has little more than some outdated condiments and moldy takeout in it, make sure to fill the space with water bottles, etc. (after you clean it of course!). A fully stocked fridge uses less energy to maintain its temperature than an empty one.

Crack it open. Each and every time I use the oven to cook, I crack the door open to take advantage of the extra heat. It might be temporary influx of warmth, but it makes a world of difference on those chilly New England winter nights!

What are some things you have done to cut your utility bills?

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Jen is the owner of The Happy Homeowner, where she writes about living a healthy, balanced life one cent at a time. Previously, she paid off $14K in credit card debt in less than a year and hasn’t looked back since. Follow along on Twitter with her financial, fitness and travel adventures @bthhomeowner!