Last Updated July 29, 2022
Illustrated by Chelsea Miller

There are tons of little tips on how to spend less on utilities, but they often only save a few dollars over the course of a year. Here are 7 big tips that will help you lower those bills significantly without sacrificing comfort.

1. Add Up Your Watts

In order to really cut down your utility bills you need to consider what’s using power, how much power it uses, how often it uses it, and if it’s worth the cost.

When you understand what each device or appliance costs, you can start making specific, individualized “tips and tricks” on where you want to limit and how much you want to save.

Tracking each appliance can sound daunting, but it's worth the effort and you can use the estimates in this article to start. Start by adding up your watts over the course of a year (you'll need to do a little math to get a general idea of how much energy each appliance uses).

Devices that are always in use cost about one dollar per watt per year. A 300 watt fridge and freezer costs about $300 each year.

The average cost per hour is 13 cents for every 1000 watts (or kilowatt). So a 1000 watt washing machine costs 13 cents to run for an hour. These prices will vary depending on the year and your location, so check your electricity bill to see how much you spend per kilowatt hour.

Here are some common items and how much power they generally use.

  • Dryer 3000 watts
  • Dishwasher 1600 watts
  • Microwave 1000 watts
  • Desktop computer idle 100 watts
  • Laptop computer idle 50 watts
  • Refrigerator with freezer 300 watts
  • HD TV in use 234 watts
  • Vacuum Cleaner 1600 watts
  • LED Light bulb 70 watts
  • Washing Machine 1000 watts

2. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

You’ll save money whenever you use less power, but you’ll have to ask yourself if it’s worth it.

If you have a smart tv and an extra mini fridge that are always plugged in, which one will draw the most electricity while sitting idle for a day?

The answer is the mini fridge by far.

A 75 watt minifridge will cost about $75 per year while a turned off television will cost about $5. If plugging and unplugging the TV each time you use it is worth the $5 per year saving then go for it, but giving up the mini fridge might be less of an inconvenience and could save you a lot more.

3. Find Your Comfort Level

Try out different temperatures to find the perfect balance of savings and comfort.

Adjust your thermostat to find the limit you and your household are comfortable with. A lot of people have a default setting—72° in the winter, 68° in the summer—but try to be adventurous. Each degree you push the thermostat can save you 3% on your energy bill.

Heating and cooling your home can sometimes cost more than all the other utilities combined and can be the source of your biggest savings.

4. An Empty Home Doesn’t Care About the Temperature

You don’t need your home to be at a comfortable temperature when you aren’t there.

Changing your thermostat by ten degrees when you're at work for 8 hours can save you over 10% on your bill.

Remembering to change your thermostat (or even turn it off) when you aren’t home can be tricky, but many thermostats allow you to set a weekly schedule to do the work for you. The process of setting up your thermostat is admittedly, overly complicated, unintuitive, and frustrating—but find the manual, look up a YouTube video, or just mess around with it. Eventually you’ll become a thermostat pro and save a big chunk of cash simultaneously.

5. An Empty Room Doesn’t Care About the Temperature

You don’t need a room to be at a comfortable temperature when you aren’t there.

If a room isn’t used often (like only at night, or when you have guests), you can shut the door and cover the vents to save on heating and cooling. When you need to use the room just open the vent and door (a fan or space heater can help keep you comfortable while the room adjusts).

Depending on the size of your home, closing off one unused room can make a big difference to your bill.

6. Trust Your Utility Company

Utility companies are there to provide a service, not to make a profit.

Electricity, gas, and water companies are regulated by local and state governments. They actively encourage their customers to cut down on energy use and save money. They might provide programs or special offers that can lower your bill. Check with your local utility companies to see if there are any programs you can enroll in or savings tips they might have for your area.

7. Only Pay for the internet you need, not the internet you think you need.

Faster isn’t always better. Evaluate how you use the internet in your household and find a speed that matches your needs.

The internet is usually a fixed cost meaning you pay the same amount every month (there are often data caps but those tend to only make a difference in extreme use cases). You are charged for the full service whether you are making the most of your internet or not. You might think having the fastest speed available is a necessity, but you might not actually notice the difference while using it.

Bonus Tip: Don't Trust Your Internet Service Provider. ISPs are not regulated like other utilities. They profit from you spending more, and will offer services or deals that you don’t necessarily need.

Disclaimer
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