Living On Less Than $28,000 A Year: Save On Utilities

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Living on Less Than $28,000 A Year: Save On Utilities How our family of six survives (and even thrives) on an income that is less than half the national median income, and what the government calls “below the poverty line” (less than $29,990 annually) for our family size. Read other posts in this series here.


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One huge part of the typical American budget is utility costs, and it’s the same for us. Fortunately, we live in an area where our water bill is not very expensive. Previously we paid between $30 and $40 a month for water, and now we pay around $15 a month. That $15-$25 difference makes a huge impact when money is tight. [UPDATE: Since the date of this post, we have moved from our condo into a house and our water bill now averages $50 a month.]

Electricity is another issue. In our area, electricity costs are very high. Even for our small 3 bedroom condo, the previous owners spent an average of $275 per month on electricity (I know because we had to pay a deposit based on their average usage.). By being diligent about power usage I have kept our bill to between $85 and $125 a month during the winter, and around $185 during the summer months. We do live in a more temperate climate, but our summers are very hot.

The primary way that I save on power usage is by hanging my laundry to dry rather than using the dryer, which saves a minimum of $50 a month!


Before you discard this idea, read how I do it (and read some other utility bill reduction ideas at the bottom of the post.) :)


I start one load of laundry every morning. The baskets above the washer and dryer are sorted into towels, light colored clothes and dark colored clothes. I can easily see which one is full and ready to be washed.

After the load finishes, I have one of the children move the clothes to the dryer, start it on high heat and set the kitchen timer for 10 minutes. By drying the clothes for a few minutes I eliminate most of the wrinkles and get the drying process started.

{I use a kitchen timer because my dryer has a cool down at the end of every timed cycle, so if I use the dryer timer my clothes cool down before I take them out. This means it will take longer for them to air dry.}


I remove my husband’s work slacks first and hang them on a hanger to minimize wrinkles because I HATE ironing! If you require a crisp crease in your slacks then you will still have to iron. (Notice my homemade laundry detergent on the dryer. :) )



I then hang the remaining clothes on a wooden drying rack. (I purchased mine at Walmart, but the racks that I have seen lately are made of plastic.). I start by hanging small items on the bottom rungs and work my way up to the top. I hang socks on the sides where the hinges of the rack are located.


Once I’m done placing the clothes on the rack, I slide it into this space between the wall and our computer desk. By the next day, the clothes are usually dry and the rack is ready for the next load.

If heavier items are still damp, we leave them on the rack or we place them in the dryer for a few minutes with a dry towel. Even though we are using the dryer, it only takes a few minutes to finish drying them.


The key to making this work is to make it a part of your routine, but if you don’t want to hang your laundry, why not set a timer to keep the cool down cycle from running at the end of the drying cycle, or try these ideas:

(There are lots of ideas for saving on utility costs. These are some that we actually use.)

Adjust the thermostat-We keep our thermostat at 65 in the winter and wear more clothing. We use a small space heater to heat the bathroom before showers.

In the summer we keep the temperature between 80-82 and use ceiling fans, drink lots of water and keep the blinds down in the afternoon.

You may not want to be as drastic as we are, but adjusting the thermostat just a few degrees can save $30-$50 or more on your power bill.

Avoid the Drying Cycle On Your Dishwasher-If you cannot automatically choose a non-dry setting, set a timer for the end of the cycle and slightly open the dishwasher door.

Adjust Your Cooking Methods-In the summer we use a crock pot to cook and we eat a lot of salads and fresh produce. In the winter, we bake a lot and let the oven heat keep the kitchen warm.

Unplug-Appliances and electronics that are plugged in are using electricity because the plug is forming a closed circuit that the electricity constantly runs through. By unplugging unused appliances, you open the circuit and stop the flow of electricity (which you are paying for.).

What ideas do you use to save on utility bills? Share in the comments.


next post: When Life Goes Wrong

Click here to see all the posts in this series.


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  1. Kimberly says

    I’m trying to get our monthly utilities down as well. We live in Las Vegas and the summers are just soooo stinking hot and in the afternoon we get all the West sun. I close all the blinds and turn off all lights to try and keep it cool with the thermostat set on 79. We also have solar screens and the 2 rooms on either side of the patio have windows and doors tinted to help with the heat. Our bill is averaged at $175.00 monthly and we have 2550 square feet… that’s pretty good. I’ve been reading “The Money Saving Mom’s Budget” and I purchased a retractable clothes line from Walmart today. I like your idea of putting clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes….in this Las Vegas dry desert climate the clothes are so stiff if you just air dry them. We are also taking the grass out in the front yard and replacing it with rock to cut down on our water bill. It can get pretty hefty in the summer months, sometimes around $100. YIKES!!!! Maybe I could ask everyone to bath twice a week??? Thanks for the tips!!!

    • Melissa says

      I live in Las Vegas too and we try not to turn on the air conditioner until at least 5pm. The electricity is half the price after 7pm so that’s what we shoot for. With it being SO hot here we run the air conditioner all night at 79 to sleep comfortably. With the air running all night and keeping the blinds drawn after 11am the house stays cool until around 3 or 4. Our bills have been under $100 June and July and regularly around $125 in August and September.

      • Melissa says

        Oh and we have our TV, Roku (no cable bill for us), Surround Sound and Wii connected to our light switch so every night we cut off the power to them.

  2. Kayla says

    Great tips! I am a new follower to your blog and have loved every post so far! Me and my hubby are both students living on part-time jobs so were living on an extremely low budget. We don’t own a dryer because of the hydro, we use a clothesline in the summer and a similar rack to yours in the winter, we also have a wood stove which saves us a lot of money on hydro and helps to dry the clothes if we place them beside it. We also avoid doing laundry, having showers and cooking during peak times if possible.
    I will also often cook two meals at once so I don’t have to use the stove twice and then just reheat later. And use the bbq a ton in the summer to avoid using the stove at all. Plus we usually leave our lights off during the day and open all the blinds to let light in.
    Thanks for the helpful tips! I look forward to more posts.

  3. says

    I only air-dry a few items of clothing right now, but maybe I’ll give it a shot for more of our wash. We lowered our utility bills quite a bit just by being diligent in turning off lights and shutting down the computer when we’re not using it!

  4. karen b says

    we are in an area where I can hang some of our clothes outside.( we live in the country) I can’t hang all out because of the severe allergies that some of us have. we still use the dryer but am thinking about buying another rack so we can hang more on it. also we turn our heat way down @ nite in the winter. the air we turn up @ nite but not as much so we can still sleep:)

  5. Rach merritt says

    We live in an apartment. It costs $1.50 per wash and dryer load. I purchased a hand crank Wonderwash from Amazon. I do our underwear and socks in that machine…and then hang them on a plastic rack similar to your wooden one. OF course, every time I do this, I am saving $3. Winters are brutal here–but our heat is electric. We opted to buy an oil filled radiator heater. Amazingly enough one has been enough to heat our 750 square foot apartment. That has saved us a ton. So if you have a smaller place-try these small portable heaters. Once spring has sprung our laundry will all be hung to dry. We keep it 69 in winter and around 80 in the summer. Anyway, for those who can (we are a family of three), I really do recommend the Wonderwash. It is great. I am fairly new to that and hanging laundry… but we too live on an incredibly tight budget. We cook A LOT in the crockpot–and my baking days are always on the coldest days. Using the heat from the oven to help in heating the apartment. We have also cut down on showers, and we use the same towel until it gets washed again. After all, if you are clean when you get out of the shower, is your towel dirty?? We have tried to cut just about every corner we can. Thanks much for you blog–I am thoroughly enjoying learning how I can save our family even more.

    • Rach merritt says

      I wanted to mention that I read that using the large “flour sack towels” as bath towels is a better option if you hang your laundry. They don’t get as rough as the other kind of towels. I am going to try this once spring is here and I can hang my clothes out without them freezing! :) Just a thought for all of us who hate rough towels! :)

    • Emily says

      I recently bought a Wonderwash and love it! It takes a few uses to get the hang of it, but its great! Especially since we don’t have our own washer and dryer.

    • says

      careful with reusing towels, staff infections can occur if you do pop them in a dryer before washing it out…I remember it happened to a friend of mine in high school. It was gross.

      • Brittany says

        If you really washed towels after one use, you’re spending a ton of money and putting so much wear and tear on your towels, only to spend money buying new ones too soon.

  6. Valerie says

    I hang things like sweaters and other clothes (mainly tops) that need to be washed on cold/delicate. It works pretty well unless the humidity is out of control, but that’s not terribly common. I have not thought of the combination of dryer for 10 minutes/hanging the rest. I guess I’m an either/or thinker. 😉 I HATE the feeling of line-dried towels and jeans because they get so stiff!! When you combine the 2 methods, how does their softness compare? I’m all for saving money and we have an awesome drying rack that only gets used about once a month (when the “delicates” basket is full), so I’m definitely open to the possibility of using it more.

    BTW, I LOVE that you’re doing this series! Your honestly is very refreshing and it’s so nice to be able to gain some fresh insights and wisdom. Thanks!!

  7. says

    We too hang dry as much as possible. I have always used the dryer after line drying outside. I thought it would help with allergens. Will have to try a few minutes before too.
    I try to keep lights off and things unplugged. It’s hard to get the rest of the family to care about saving on electric sometimes. It is a constant battle.
    Enjoying your series and can’t wait to read more.

    • Bec says

      Don’t love the idea of hanging laundry, but I do love $600 in my pocket per year, so I tried your method today. I was surprised how dry they were after 10 minutes in the dryer! Thanks for your brave series and the intentional way that you live. It is an encouragement.

  8. says

    As soon as there’s enough daylight, ALL lights are out. they don’t come back on until it’s not bright enough to read by. usually by 6:30-7pm now. I’m working on setting the thermostat lower. As we’re on oil heat. our furnace is also our water heater- it’s on demand- which is a blessing and a curse. we don’t have to wait for it to heat up, but it’s hard to regulate a temp. I’ve limited the kids to 10 min showers, and cut those back to 2-3 times a week to save on the oil bill. 100 gallons is nearly $400! Our electric bills are also quite expensive here. another reason i try to not run excessive lighting – even switched all but a few to florescents. My house is 2200sqft so cutting costs wherever i can i’m doing it.

    As for the dryer..that’s an awesome tip! though i really hate stiff clothes, how do you get around that?

      • Kimberly says

        We have a drying rack like that – when I’m not using it on the back porch, I use it in the bathtub – for some reason, the bathroom has the BEST air circulation, and stuff dries pretty quickly!

        I also bought an extra shower curtain rod and put it parallel to the “real” one inside the tub, so that I can now hang LOTS of stuff over the tub on hangers, and also really big things like sheets! It’s also great to use for “drippy” things like raincoats and snow-covered stuff, all the water goes right down the drain!

        I am really appreciating these posts – I’m getting so many great ideas – thank you!

  9. Sarah says

    We spent a ton on heating/electricity our first year in our townhome. The we got a new thermostat (not expensive, maybe $15 or so and it was digital and programmable, etc.). That thermostat paid for itself in one month (not a very hot or very cold month, either)! Just a thought for those with older thermostats that can’t seem to get their bill down and their house is still uncomfortable temp.

  10. says

    I only put the better shirts into the dryer, and only for about 5 min., but we are in a fairly dry climate. Then, I hang shirts onto hangers and put them on the shower rod – they dry nicely and they are ready for the closet! Drying racks are in the basement, and things dry quickly there – I give everything a good shake with a ‘snap’ at the end, and that knocks out the wrinkles too.

    I have explained to my daughter that if it’s light outside, we don’t need lights inside, and she’s good about using natural light when it’s available. We have CF bulbs in the most heavily used light fixtures – we’ve purchased them over time with the savings we have from our efforts. We don’t have air conditioning, but we really don’t need it here. If it’s a really hot day we spend more time in the basement where it’s cooler.

    We heat with firewood and our furnace (which is propane) is back up, and usually only runs in the middle of the night. Our kitchen stove is propane too, and we’ve discovered that propane prices are much lower in the heat of summer, so that’s when we have our tank filled. It really helps a lot. Our electric bill runs $65 max, and we use verly little propane too. We don’t have a water bill because we have a well and septic, so we pump our own water (it’s an electric pump) and that’s part of that bill.

    In winter when it’s very cold, I fill milk jugs with water and leave them outside overnight. We do a lot of gardening, and then freeze a lot of what we grow (I do canning and dehydrating too). So through the winter, the chest freezer starts to empty out a little, and I fill those empty spaces with frozen milk jugs, frozen by Mother Nature.

    We wear sweaters in the winter, and rather than heat up the entire house by several degrees if someone is chilled, I encourage them to pop a hoodie in the dryer for 5 minutes. Putting on a warm hoodie, drinking a cup of tea or washing dishes by hand are all great ways to warm up!

    Hope that helps,
    -Laura at TenThingsFarm

      • Sheri says

        I love the idea of the extra shower idea inside the bath tub. I knew that darn guest bathroomn would coe in handy for something other then having another toilet to clean!

  11. Melissa says

    I’ve been hang drying my clothes ever since moving to AZ (from OR where there are very few not rainy days to hang them outside!). I stopped for a few months when I was very pregnant and nauseous and just couldn’t handle being in the heat long enough to get a load hung. I use vinegar in the washer as fabric softner and I think it works pretty good for hang drying clothes. I try to add a couple drops of essential oils to scent it too, but that doesn’t always happen. I don’t even turn my heat on in the winter, I think we did only a couple days when my husband was sick, but for the most part it’s not even needed. BUT I am not looking forward to summer when our electric bill gets to almost $300, which in talking to other people is apparently good. Last summer we kept our thermostat at 82 and tried to keep blinds shut and heat producing things off and I would mostly cook in the crock pot and plug it in out back. It just gets so stinkin hot that the AC is going 24 hours a day pretty much.

    • Danie says

      Try talking to your electric company to see if they have an “average bill pay” or something similar! We have the exact same problem in Oklahoma, so we set up for that. We end up paying something like $110 each month for electric (which includes our water heater and stove in addition to heat/air conditioning). We pay an extra $10-$15 more in winter, when we don’t use as much electric (too warm for heat) but it averages out so instead of paying $180 a month in August, we pay $70-80 less than that!

  12. Evelyn says

    I love this series you are doing! We also keep it cold in winter (63 degrees day/59 degrees night) and warm in summer (78 degrees) but I confess I only hang laundry in the summer! Thank you your indoor clothes hanging tip. We time our showers, especially in the summer to help with the water bill. Keep the water heater turned down to 115 degrees, insulate the water heater, close all blinds/curtains at night in the winter, use a low flow shower head and toilet, etc. just a few ideas anyway. :-)

  13. Crystal says

    Hi. I just stumbled across this site through Pinterest today and I am so glad I did. I am a single mom living on way less than $28000 a year so I am grateful for any tips and advice. I had tried hanging my clothes to dry before to save money, but was faced with the same stiff problem that everyone else seems to have. I can’t believe I never thought to do the dryer for only a short period of time. Thanks for the tip and all the others! I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your posts. 😉

  14. Miranda says

    we live in a tiny apartment without a washe/dryer hookup. The laundry room downstairs charges $2 to wash and $1.25 to dry for single load machine. I have discovered that there is a laundrymat/gas station/casino close by that charges $1.50 to wash and .25 per 10 min of drying (and I never need more than .75 for dry clothes) for DOUBLE load machines! It is a HUGE savings and I get my clothes done in much less time.

    For our utilities, I cook in a slow cooker about 6 nights a week because of time. My husband and I joke about being electricity nazis because we turn EVERYTHING off every night, unplug appliances/chargers etc and even started turning things like our tv/entertainment center off at the switch. We don’t run lights unnecessarily and keep the curtains closed on really cold days. We also plastic ALL of our windows in the winter. (which is extra necessary since one of the windows doesn’t close all the way and we live in Montana!) Our heat is gas, so that is a seperate bill. To cut that expense I turn down the thermostat during the day when no one is home. That’s about it. Fortunately the weather is getting nicer and our landlord is fixing up the building which has cut down on drafts A LOT, which means a lower heating bill!

    • AJ says

      I love saving money, I am ALL for saving money and being frugal and doing these money saving tips but the problem is getting my husband on board.
      He even complains about air drying the dishes- like seriously, how does that even effect him? It’s really frustrating but I would love for us to be a team when it comes to this.
      Any tips?

      • says

        That is a difficult situation AJ. I would first try having a direct conversation with him about why saving money is important to you and the fact that you would like to have some financial goals together. I heard Dave Ramsey say once that wives have to be more direct with their husbands than they are sometimes comfortable with. Woman like to hint at things and hope that the men get it. Many times they don’t–LOL!

        If he is still unresponsive I would try to take a class together (Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace is a good one, and actually helped to save our marriage and our finances) or get some marriage counseling.

        If you are a Christian, prayer truly does work and is sometimes the best route of all to bring change to our marriage. Stormy OMartian has a great book called The Power of A Praying Wife that has specific prayers to help you get started.

        I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

        Hang in there! :)

  15. Laine Jeep says

    We purchased a solar oven 6 years ago and it is wonderful. There are cookbooks available and, if you or someone in your family is gifted enough, you can even make your own solar oven. We purchased ours and it has paid for itself several times over.

  16. MicheleN. says

    I use my Crock Pot to make awesome meals that save on energy and I often make double the chicken or beef, etc. in one days cooking to use for the next days meal…2 meals from 1 use of energy!!

  17. Shelli says

    We live in an older house in a very hot area (110-115 degrees during the summer). The windows are old and not energy efficient and a majority are on the south and west sides of the house. We found 1/2 inch sheets of foam insulation at the hardware store and cut them to fit into some of those windows. We also hung large outdoor shades over those windows to limit the amount of direct sun into the windows on that side of the house. During the warm winters we roll up the shade and remove the foam sheets and allow the warm sun to heat the house. This has kept the those rooms cooler in the summer and helps lower the electric bill.

  18. Lacy says

    I only turn on the lights once it gets to dark and I have to squint at my computer screen. lol
    I also don’t own a television (my co-workers tell me I might as well be Amish, but you have no idea how nice it is not having one) which also means no cable.
    I wash most of my laundry on cold unless it’s heavily solid clothing.
    I close off the spare bedroom so I don’t have to heat or cool it.

  19. Elizabeth says

    Has anyone done regular vs. HE washer and dryers? Do you still save with line drying??? My dryer only runs roughly for 20 minutes at a time to dry a full load so I’m wondering if that extra 10 minutes does anything. I’m still struggling to get our bill down. I turn off lights, rarely use the AC or heat if I can help it, and definitely turn that sucker off when no one is home. Of course then I find that my husband has the AC on at random times. Our biggest issue is that we are in an upstairs apartment so the insulation is awful. Right now our electricity bill is on leveled billing, which means it takes your last years bills and averages out how much you pay so that one month you aren’t getting nailed with a $300 or $400 bill out of the blue. I still don’t know if it’s helping or not. We spend an average of $140 to $150/month for a 1250 sq. ft. apartment. Am I paying too much? I’m in Arkansas, if that helps.

    • Heather says

      If you have central heat and air, don’t turn it off and on. When it is turned off for extended periods of time it has to work long and hard to get everything warm or cool in the home. Remember the floors, furniture, everything takes on the temp of the home. Turn the thermostat up or down. I work for a heating and air company and this is rule number one when people speak of their bills or that their equipment is not functioning to its best ability.

    • Jessi says

      Heather is right. We are in a very rural area where we have no choice but to pay VERY high electricity costs. We were turning the air off during the day when we weren’t home and turning it back on (at 74 degrees) when we came home and we weren’t seeing much of a difference in the bills. (I’m in South Florida by the way so AC is a MUST all year long.) We set the AC on 78 permanently and now our bills are about $40 cheaper every month. The AC doesn’t have to work so hard to cool down the house. Also there are some sites that show you ways to clean your AC or build a shade over it to help it run more efficiently.

  20. Rs Mom says

    I put an adjustable shower rod in the closet above the washer & dryer, and it’s especially easy to hang up all our permanent press, then it all goes straight to the closets.

  21. Anita says

    A few years back my husband and I lived in Kazakhstan for a few months. Clothes dryers are extremely rare there, so it is a very common sight to see clothes on the line everywhere, even in the dead of winter — Freeze-dried blue jeans! The trick to making line dried clothes softer is to iron them. I know it sounds awful, but if you don’t have a dryer, and can’t stand the scratchiness of air dried underwear (and really, who can?), it’s totally worth the time to iron and smooth down all the fibers.

    • says

      Drying them for a few minutes accomplishes the same thing, but if you don’t have access to a dryer, ironing is a great idea (except that I hate to iron). :)

  22. stephanie says

    My husband and I live in a small 1 bedroom in southern california. We have NEVER used our heater, we don’t even know how! If it gets chilly in winter we will cook dinner in the oven and then leave it open to heat the house (as your suggested) or we will put a pot of water simmering on the stove. This humidifies and warms the air several degrees in a small space. The only catch with this is that you must have a pot designated ONLY for simmering water for warmth as the water minerals will deposit on the pot and you won’t want to cook with it. If it gets too warm in summer, instead of running the air, we will hang wet towels over the screen doors and set a fan in front of them blowing cool air into the house like a swamp cooler. Running just a fan is MUCH cheaper than running the air and works most days of the summer. We also don’t watch television during the day in summer because the plasma screen gets too hot!

  23. Jessica says

    Love your ideas! Thanks- We have 4 kids too and I can’t figure out how you only have 7 loads of laundry a week?! We would be buried alive if we only did one load a day! We hang sweaters, dress clothes, jeans for the 2nd half do the dry cycle and towels that are too bulky to dry in 1 cycle (dryer is old) and it seems like we never have enough room. I just can’t fathom hanging everything! Is it really only 7 loads???? :-)

    • says

      My oldest two were doing their own laundry for the past two years, so I only had to do one load a day for the four remaining family members with one of those loads being towels. I did do two loads on the day I wash sheets. Now all the kids are doing their own laundry so I only do about three loads a week plus towels and sheets. We also have fewer clothes so the laundry pile can’t get too big before we have to wash.

      • Amy says

        Even if the kids are doing their own laundry, doesn’t that still count towards your total household utility usage? Do the kids also hang-dry their clothes? I’ve got five kids (two are twin infants) so I’m trying to figure out how to implement this idea into our own family routine. Thanks!

        • says

          Hi Amy! I was speaking to the question about how I do so few loads of laundry. :)

          Yes, the children do sometimes hang their clothing. I think when the kids are smaller, it is probably easier to do all the laundry yourself. If it were me, I would probably do a small load with all the baby clothes and just dry them in the dryer with a dry towel. It would make me crazy to hang all those little things–haha!

          If you dry your other clothes for about ten minutes and then hang them, you can probably get by with one load a day as well unless your children are changing clothes multiple times a day. I also dry my towels and washcloths in the dryer because, again, I hate hanging a bunch of little things on the rack.

          Hope that helps. :)

  24. Janet Bavido says

    The electricity running through a cord to an appliance does not “use” electricity, any more than the wires in the walls do. They are only a “stream” that channels electricity to where it’s needed. Then the power waits there like water behind a dam until something is turned on and uses the power. It is the teeny bit of some appliances that stay on, such as an “On” light, an internal timer, a clock, etc. that use electricity. Don’t go around unplugging your desk lamps and your cellphone charger thinking it will save you anything.

      • says

        We still have an older style upright washing machine, with a laundry tub beside it. It is not a “suds saver”, but we run it as though it is. When I start a load of laundry, I put the hose that would otherwise go into the drain into the laundry tub and put in the plug. The soapy water goes in here and makes some noise. When the machine moves to rinse, I switch the hose so that it goes down the drain pipe again. When that load is done, I empty the machine and then scoop the saved water back into the machine with a large bucket. Ready for a second load. I do whites or sheets for the first load and darks for the second one. I am blessed to have a clothesline outside in warm weather and lines hanging from the ceiling of my laundry room for the winter.

        With this method I have overflowed the laundry tub by forgetting to switch the hose in time, but setting a portable timer to alert me when it is “switch time” helps.

      • jessica says

        Honestly, I did see a savings when I unplugged things rather then leaving them plugged in. I’m talking major stuff like microwaves, bathroom electrics (hair straighteners and blow dryers), and my powerstrips that had my entertainment system on it. It wasn’t much maybe $2 a month but every little bit helps.

        • Linda says

          When we put a new roof on we choose the most expensive energy efficient asphalt one. It is a light gray white & at first I hated it, but now it looks just normal. We re-insulated the attic with the highest R rating. We have the thermostat set at 79 in the summer & around 72 in the winter. Our gas & electric bills run $220. per month year around- yes year around and our house has 4,400 square feet. We have changed most of our light bulbs to energy efficient “green” ones. We live in the midwest.

      • Stephanie says

        Actually many electronics, especially tvs and other entertainment equipment, uses electricity while plugged in. Even cell phone charges do. My father is an electrician and I have been lectured time and time again on the properties of electricity. If there is a closed circuit for electricity to flow through then it will. It does not know when the appliance is turned “off” for it to wait. It can only tell if it is an open or closed circuit and if it can flow it will. It may be slower than when the item is turned on but it will still flow. Also with cell phone chargers and such, air is a slight conductor (just look at lightning) and even if it doesn’t look like a closed circuit the air will cause some (very small amount) electricity to flow which will raise your bill. So for people on an extremely small budget this is a way to decrease your electric bill a few dollars and the more you unplug the more you will save. think of how many kitchen appliances, electronic devices, and other electric items that remain plugged in at your home. Each of those could be a money saver to just unplug them for a little while.

        • Gayle says

          Generally if an appliance has a clock (like the oven) it will still use electricity when not “in use”. Unfortunately I don’t have physical access to my oven or microwave’s plugs, so I can’t unplug them. But I put my TV and DVD player on a power strip and I turn them off each night.

          I also don’t use the second floor of my house at all, and it’s on a seperate A/C unit. I keep it at a steady 82 degrees. I keep downstairs at 78 and it often goes over 100 here in the summer. Every little bit helps! I’d like to get a programmable thermostat.

  25. Cassandra Gavin says

    Any suggestions for trying to line dry clothes when living in a more humid climate?
    Sometimes my towels aren’t even all the way dry 24 hours after using them to dry after a shower. I couldn’t imagine my clothes drying properly!
    Maybe a fan blowing on them while hanging on a drying rack?
    This is all new to me… so any advice would be helpful.

    This is a great site with lots of great ideas! Thanks everyone!

    • says

      I actually live in a very humid climate. There have been times when some of the clothes are not all the way dry, but if I need something I can stick a few things in the dryer for 10 minutes and they’re done. It still saves money compared to drying the whole load in the dryer. I find that clothing dries much faster than towels, plus your bathroom is probably the most humid room in the house.

    • Gayle says

      Do you have a ceiling fan with a light kit? You can hang four items on hangers – one from each light stem – and turn the fan on low. It works for me!

  26. says

    We don’t watch TV, really… we have one, but we typically keep it unplugged unless we have a show that we enjoy watching. We keep our AC off unless it’s too hot to sleep. In the winter, we keep it around 63-64. We get all of our oven-baking done in one day during the summer and pre-make meals for the week. We shower cold (it’s a choice that we make based on our own principles of health). We keep certain rooms (our guest room and office) closed off and shut out the heat/AC to those rooms because we don’t use them much.

  27. Richelle says

    I have spent the last hour perusing all your tips and I love them! I’m a single mom with 2 toddlers. I make a great income as a nurse but being saddled with half the marriage debt when I got divorced has made things very, very tight! A couple of years ago I started making some small changes to save on utilities and last year I really made some drastic changes. I live in Alaska so our winters are loooooong and dark (only a couple hrs of meager light a day). So I started burning more candles for daytime and really enforcing the lights off to the kids whenever they left a room. I also kept my heat at only 68 degrees. We just wore more clothes and I have lots of throw blankets! And in the summer, we have almost 24 hr light so I rarely use the lights then. With this I have been able to keep my electric bill <$100 even in the winter. Usually around $75 in the summer. The most important thing though is that I stopped showering at home. I teach Jazzercise and attend classes on almost all my days off so I just do my daily shower there after my morning class and on the days I work I simply go earlier to shower there. I realize I'm lucky that I have that option so I take full advantage of it. It also means I use less electricity as I don't use my blow dryer every day at home like I used to do! So that just leaves the kid's bath every evening they are with me (3-4 nights/wk) and my Sun morning showers before church. I was able to bring my water bill from about $170 down to about $110. (I can't even fathom only paying $15/mo for water!!!) I do own a duplex and pay for my tenants water as well, which accounts for most of the water cost. I also cut cable out, which saved me another $60/mo! Thanks for all your tips here, it's always good to get reinforcement that what I'm doing will eventually lead to a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm already noticing that there is starting to be "leftovers" at the end of every month I can start putting into savings! Hallelujah!!

    • says

      Yay for leftovers! Thank you so much for sharing Richelle. You are a perfect example of how people can find ways to save no matter how desperate the situation seems. It just takes commitment and some hard work. I am really proud of you for taking the initiative to make your income work for you!

      • Becky says

        I have found that too, but if you line the hanger up with the stitch lines, it’s not too bad. I’ve had to get on my husband to make sure he takes his time to hang them.

  28. Jennifer says

    My husband and I are CRAZY when it comes to saving energy. We replace every dead bulb with cfls so we aren’t wasting the good bulbs (tryin to be green), we have everything in our house on a serge protector and turn stuff off at the switch every time we aren’t using it (not just at night) so our computers, gaming consoles, tv, etc don’t take up power. If we are going away for a weekend (we used to live several hundred miles apart so this was almost constant), we turned off the water heater at the breaker box. No need to heat water we can’t use!!

  29. Linda says

    We are recently down to a single income and economizing wherever we can. A tip I have not seen yet is to run the spin cycle on the washer TWICE before drying. It really gets out the final drips of water before drying. I am going to try some of your indoor line-drying. That will help! Thank you!

  30. Shannon says

    We are also a family of 6 and for the life of me I cant figure out how you get away with just one load of laundry a day! Between clothes, towels, sheets, etc I would get so far behind. Please share any tips! Thanks.

    • says

      It helps that my oldest two were doing their own laundry at the time of the post. Now all four of my children do their own laundry, which is usually one load each per week. Since the bath towels are only used on clean bodies, I wash them every other week. The kids use a bath poof instead of washcloths. They also don’t change their clothes a lot–maybe that helps. I don’t know what else to tell you. :)

  31. Becky says

    I hang dry all my clothes as well, but I don’t put them in the dryer because we would have to go to the laundromat. I noticed you put your shirts on the drying rack. I’ve started putting my shirts on a hanger and hanging them on the bar in the shower. This frees up more room on the rack for smaller items and not having to overlap items.

    I’m glad I discovered this blog!

    • says

      Hi Becky! I do hang some shirts on hangers, but my husband doesn’t like the hanger marks in the shoulders of his knit shirts. :) Great tip to save space though.

      • Eilene says

        I took foam pieces out of the packaging for something (maybe a printer or DVD player… I forget) and cut them to the shape of the hanger and slid them over the ends of the hangers and superglued them to make padded hangers. It solved the problem of hanger shoulders on my knit tops.

  32. Bri says

    I am a 25 yr old domestically challenged recovering spendaholic. But despite some of my reforming wanton ways, like our $300 monthly electric bill (I keep the thermostat at 70 and I live in FL) – I am the ultimate laundry guru. Lol, but in all seriousness ladies, the dryer is not your friend!!! It strips color from your clothes, shrinks /stretches them out of shape, makes fabric all fuzzy and pilly, and, as we all know, is an energy hog. The only things I dry in the dryer are also the only things I wash in hot water: white dress shirts, socks, towels, and sheets. Everything else washes in cold and hang to dry. Yes, I even hang up my unmentionables. If I splurge on nice VS undergarments, I’m sure as heck not going to ruin them with the dryer! We invested in a double hang rolling garment rack from Wal-Mart for about $30 and it has been a life saver for air drying. I spend a lot of time on doing laundry, I have different mixtures of detergents, vinegar, borax and the like, but it really makes a huge difference on the look and feel of your clothes!

  33. London says

    I too use a clothes line (huge savings!) My husband calls me the electricty nazi : I have everything in our home on Surge protectors (slightly expensive to set up but works great they don’t draw as much electicity and save time turning things off) we turn off lights in rooms we are not in no matter what! and in the winter we set the temp to 60 and summer to 75 our weather in tx is more extreeme it sounds than yours…also in the summer i go out and “water” the ac unit a few times durring the heat of the day it keeps the unit from working as hard and helps to cool the air more rapidly. I have also bought vinyl window covers that I installed on all the windows to keep drafts out in winter and heat out in summer…I also made heavy drapes to cover the windows where the sun hits the most it helps to keep the rooms more tolerable.! Just some IDEAS TO SHARE!

  34. Ana says

    I used to hang clothes on the line when I was younger. I am going to try this kow that I have a family and a high utility bill.

  35. Andrea says

    One way I reduce my utility expense is by avoiding using my stove and oven as much as possible. Propane is our highest bill and also happens to be what the stove and oven run on, so I do as much cooking and baking as possible in a toaster oven or the microwave. You’d be surprised how many things can be made in one of the two.

  36. Lynnsy says

    I always do an extra spin cycle after the washer is finished. It takes about 10 minutes, draws very little power (and no water :) and it cuts between 15-20 min off the time in the dryer. For those of you that want to hang clothes but don’t like the stiffness try using the Air Fluff cycle on your dryer. Once your clothes have line dried, toss them in the dryer with a couple tennis balls or dryer balls and set it to air fluff or tumble only (no heat). This will soften your clothes and because the dryer isn’t making any heat it draws very little power. Hope this helps!

      • Karen says

        My husband and I are very tall and we can’t dry most of our shirts or pants since then they will shrink too much. So I hang everything up on hangers and hang them on a rod in the laundry room to air dry. Then when everything is dry and stiff, I toss it in the dryer on “air fluff” for about 15-20 minutes. If I then fold or hang everything up promptly, I never have to iron anything (except the few dress shirts my husband has that he irons himself). If I wasn’t washing clothes for three little ones, then I would definitely consider expanding this idea to all of our clothes.

  37. Sandra Britt says

    I live in the Northeast and we get some chilly nights from September through May. I found I can lower my thermostat even more at bedtime since I started using fleece, yes fleece, not flannel sheets on my bed! If you’ve never tried them, they are absolutely awesome, don’t shrink, and Walmart carries them in all sizes at a very reasonable price.

  38. Karla says

    There are 5 of us living here and our water bill is $119 every other month, no matter how much or how little we use it. It nearly kills me to pay that. Even when I hauled 6 baskets of laundry to the laundromat twice a week, and showered at the gym, it didn’t change. Bleh.
    Anyway – we had our house weatherized 2 years ago. It didn’t make a huge difference in our expenses, but we are much more comfortable inside now. There’s no drafts in winter and in summer the downstairs living area is quite nice. We do use a fan in the evenings upstairs in the bedrooms which makes it cool for the mornings as well.
    Looking forward to learning more cost-cutting tips. Household income is slightly less than yours, so we need all the help we can get.

      • Karla says

        Agreed. It works out to $59.50 a month. Just nuts.
        I forgot to mention that the gym membership was a Christmas gift from my mother for the 2 of us – for 6 months. While I loved it, I’m too much of a tightwad to shell out for something like that regularly!

  39. says

    I too so much admire and appreciate this series. Family finances are much more touchy and emotional than religion or politics:) We are a family of 7 living on 3,000 a month. I wanted to add something wise and helpful but I think you and your readers have touched on everything we do.
    My biggest prayer right now is cutting down on our water bill. We live in southern Ca and pay $175. month. I do have three teens that I am trying to get to take showers but the problem isnt our usage it is the cost and the way it is figured…BUT we dont have heating or coolign expenses. AT ALL.

  40. Sharon says

    I did not take the time to read through all of the comments so perhaps someone said this already – but A/C is not like heat – turning it up and down is not as efficient as finding a temp that you can live with, both day and night and leaving it there. I’ve had two or the HVAC guys tell me that – if I want to save money on the bill, quit going up and down – pick a temp and leave it there. (we do 78 -but perhaps we could even go a tad warmer – it’s just that I’m doing alot of re-organizing right now, and I kept getting sweaty, so I bumped it down a couple of degrees) Use fans if that is too hot to sleep at night. Heat is not the same – it takes WAY less energy to generate heat, than to generate cool… going up and down will not be as obvious in the power bill, as it will with the A/C.

  41. Christine Cartier says

    A friend (from England) showed me how she saved on her water bill. Keep jugs by your sinks and bathtubs. When runing the water to heat up, fill the jugs with the cool water from the tap. This you can use as drinking water, watering house plants or outdoor plants, or garden.

  42. Jamie says

    I tried some of your tips (Hanging all my clothes and drying towels for 5 mins in the dryer then hanging to dry). I also realized that my wireless internet was plugged in and transmitting even for the hours that I wasn’t home, I now unplug it everytime I leave. With these small changes I was able to take $9 off my already super reduced monthly bill.
    THANK YOU !! :)

  43. Luck says

    I put a timer on my hot water heater I have it set for 2
    Hrs in the morning and 2 at night. It saves
    About $20 a month. I also put a metal
    Roof on house the initial cost was higher than a
    Regular roof bit the light bill
    Dropped $50 the first month

    • Maggie says

      We have one of those too! And we have a solar hot water heater system for the day time. In addition, we use LED bulbs in all of our light fixtures…they are more expensive to start with but last longer than CFLs.

  44. Melissa says

    You are inspiring and encouraging! Thank you for being vulnerable to criticism and being transparent! We are a family of 4 and I recently became a stay at home mom in order to spend more time devoted to our family. I am very inspired to see where I can save money now!

  45. Nancy P says

    I just wanted to tell you how impressed I am that you decided to sacrafice and stay home with your children. I taught preschool for 9 years and I could tell a huge difference in the children whose parents stayed home and those who their parents worked. The children with a stay at home mom, were so much less worldly and more innocent in their thinking. They were often less hyper and more willing to mind. Kudos to you, you will never regret it and your children will always remember you for it.

  46. Jolene says

    Utility companies also have low-income rates. You just have to call, ask for an application, fill it out, and send it back in. It doesn’t hurt to find out if you qualify.

  47. Lara says

    We were originally renting a place with utilities included but when they (our awful ex-landlords who lied to us about selling the place) forced us to move, we found a place where utilities aren’t included. We watch our water, shut off all the lights aside from keeping one on in the room we’re currently in, and unplug everything when it’s not being used.

  48. Jessica says

    Thanks for sharing your tips. I had kidney stones while I was pregnant with my daughter and was unable to work during this time. We did not plan for this and have been struggling to pay the bills and to catch up on the bills from when I was unable to work. I am going to try your tips and enjoy seeing the electric bill drop.

  49. Pam says

    This article was so timely for me! I have become obsessed with conserving! So Cal has been experiencing a very HOT Aug/Sept so after receiving a $450.00 electric bill I sprang into action! Having the thermostat set at 82 was not enough! Now as the temp goes up so does my thermostat! My pool filter now runs only 5 hours, from 5am to 10am. I’ve unplugged every thing that is not in use. My laundry goes in at 5am….I’ve always hung dry my clothes, so the only things that go into the dryer are sheets and towels. So Cal Edison has a web site that you can use to track your usage, I’m amazed at how my usage has plummeted! P.S. They charge you more as the temp goes up, and more for usage between 10am and 5pm. P.S.S. Don’t buy a house with a pool! Haha!

      • Julie says

        Hi, I just wanted to say that a lot of the time we just take sheets and lay them over chairs and our kitchen table or counter tops! And Towels we do the same thing! And after you think its long enough with one side just turn them over! Works great!! :) And in the summer we have a clothes line outside big enough for all my clothes. And sheets and towels! So the sun does all that work! I know this is 2 years later then the post but thought someone might be interested in that!

          • Hannah says

            Even easier would be to get your husband to install a clothesline in your house. We have a wall in our bedroom with just a dresser in front of it, so it works well. All you need is a thin rope and eye hooks that screw in.
            Where the two walls join, screw in a hook, run the rope all along the wall, and screw a hook into the opposite wall. We did this two times, so we have ‘stacked’ clotheslines. It works great for hanging a load of laundry, drying clothes aren’t in my way, and they’re easy to access.
            It works for drying sheets and towels as well.
            If you google it you’ll find many people with similiar ideas and projects posted ( thats where I got the idea!)

  50. Rachel says

    These are all great tips. I’m a new grad student and living on my own for the first time, scared to death of not being able to pay rent. I am as frugal as possible, especially when it comes to my bills. Here are some tips that I’ve used:

    To save on electricity, I have pretty much shut the thermostat off, regardless of how it feels outside. If it’s too hot, I use ceiling fans and avoid cooking until nighttime. If it’s too cold, I spend my time at home wrapped in an electric blanket and also use it while sleeping. Electric blankets are a great investment because they use a fraction of the electricity compared to running the heat. An alternative would be placing a heating pad at the end of the bed to keep your toes warm at night.

    I also changed all my bulbs to compact fluorescents. There is a cheap brand I believe most can find at Wal-Mart. These bulbs save so much compared to incandescents.

    Regularly vacuum out the dust from under your fridge that may be stuck to the coils. This keeps it from running so often.

    Cook in large batches instead of several times a day. I also heard that cooking in the microwave uses less electricity than cooking on the stove (at least if you have an electric stove).

    As for water, I’ve heard that filling an empty two-liter bottle with rocks and placing it in your toilet tank will displace the water and make your toilet use less. Most toilets use more water than they need. And if you happen to have a gym membership or have free access to one (like at a university, for example, where my tuition pays for it), use their showers so that you use less of your own water.

    Love this site, by the way! Glad you’re here!

      • Julie says

        The heating thing! I have a gas fireplace! Basically a heater that looks like a fireplace that actually is fantastic! I have a big 1 story house and it heats the entire house except my kitchen and laundry room! And keeps the temp in the house at 70 or above! Which is amazing! And only uses gas! So cuts the electric bill way way down! And gas is much cheaper and it just uses such a small amount! We are going to get another one for my kitchen and this will be our only heating during the day! At night i will use furnace because of my 2 year old sons room. It gets so cold in there! But even then i keep furnace at 66 at night! Sometimes 65

  51. Jewel says

    Using powerstrips for multiple appliances can save some headache as well as power. Since you can just unplug one plug and plug it back in when stuff is needed.

  52. Shelley says

    I just wanted to say thank you for writing all about how your family saves money! My family and I are trying to make a change which my involve us moving state and me only working a little for my parents business while they keep my little one! My dream is to stay at home with and son and hopefully one day I will. A lot of these tips will be added to our lives! Thank you!

  53. Kelly says

    Thanks, so much for sharing. It’s such a delight to read your blogs. It’s moved up to the second spot in on my Bookmarks Toolbar(right behind Freecycle : ) )

    One small thing I’ve done in addition to many of the things posted is to pour my dehumidifier (a necessity in a damp corner of our basement) water into my washing machine so that it has to use less to fill up. I will soon be putting an extra layer of insulation into the attic of our townhouse, and using curtain insulating fabric, (which you can buy at the fabric store) on to the back of some of our drapes. I have a friend who had a huge roll and just gave it to me when they headed to Turkey for a couple of years as missionaries just when I was thinking of buying some. It’s amazing how God provides for us when we have needs, isn’t it? My friend calls those “Cool God” stories. I’m sure you have lots of those too.

  54. Alison Rochon says

    I have recently started using wool dryer balls instead of softener. One awesome side effect is that the drying time is way shorter. The more balls I use, the less time to dry. With 6 balls in with a large load I have almost cut my drying time in half!

  55. Sarah N says

    You can also try the blackout blinds or film to reduce energy cost in addition to the blackout curtains. I haven’t tried the film, but the use the curtains and blinds. They have the blinds for pretty cheap at Family Dollar and Big Lots.

  56. J.Rose says

    I always had an apt that one/both utilities where included so when we bought a house i had to spring into action. I installed a digital thermostat (for $50 with a $25 rebate which i lost) BUT i h have 3 program options each day. So program the heat to a high 60’s low 70’s two hours after everyone falls asleep (when your body temp drops anyway) and to increase to low 70’s at 7 am when we wake up, then again at 8 when everyone leaves it drops again and comes back on at five as we get home. If one of us is home at another time we can easily bypass the system with one button. We use ceiling fans downstairs and a/c in bedrooms (only at night) during the summer. As lights need to be replaced they are done so with ceiling fans. We don’t live uncomfortable and we are comfortable within our bills (combo of avg of $200 a month fluctuating during the seasons) We also wash laundry at night when possible (in your case find out when your utility company offers non-peak discounts). I installed solar power outdoor lights which aren’t much more than the plug in but will save us money in the long run. Also might seem small but sensor night lights that only turn on when dark, hence stopping my kids from leaving the light on all night and hours after the sun rises. I want to get better at unplugging things you don’t use often :)

  57. Umm Muhammad says

    I’m not able to read through all the comments to see if my suggestion has already been mentioned; my apologies if it has.

    I hang my clothes up in the bathroom on the shower rod. My bathroom does not have a window so I keep the door open so air can circulate through. I’m able to wash up to 3 loads a day. I could do more, but then clean clothes start to pile up before I can fold and put them away.

    I have a metal drying rack like yours, but use it for small items like socks and undergarments. I hang my towels and bed sheets up as well.

      • Judy says

        I’ve been hanging my clothes on the shower rod for 25 years. Put them on the hanger, smooth any wrinkles with your hands (or shake them) & hang them up. When dry, they’re already on the hangers to put up 😀 . It also extends the life of the clothes – less shrinkage, fading & wear.

  58. Cathy says

    We just installed solar panels and our electric bill has dropped dramatically. Because of new solar leasing options, we paid zero out of pocket to get them installed. Even with the leasing costs, we’re paying significantly less for electricity than we used to.

  59. Dana says

    Just another tip, I personally love sheets and towels dried on the line in the sunshine. A line is just a couple of dollars as long as you have a couple trees or fence posts. We live in a cold winter climate so I have to take a few winter month off but the rest of the year this is how I do it.

    • Betty-Anne says

      If you live in a house and have a basement you can hang a clothesline to dry bigger items like sheets, blankets etc.

  60. ampri says

    I started hang drying our laundry, and our electric bill went from $125 to $60. We conserve in other ways too.
    I havea very small laundry room that shares space with the water heater. I found drying racks that attach to the walls and can be pulled out when needed. They r called polder racks, and they are an awesome alternative to wood racks that take up floor space.

    Last, I air dry towels and sheets by hanging/draping them until they are 95% dry. Then, I put them in the dryer for no more than 10 minutes. Next, I get them back out whether they are dry or not. Rehang if not dry. Doing this prevents that stiff, rough feeling in jeans, sheets, and towels. If you wait too long and dry them completely, throw a damp rag or kitchen towel in the dryer for the 10 minutes. Other ways: dryer sheets or those spikey rubber balls they sell in the laundry section.

  61. Carri says

    Any Central Florida people have tips? We use dryer balls, unplug everything when not in use, line dry clothes, and keep lights off and are still paying $260 per month for power. We live in a small 3 bed apartment and I have tried everything to lessen our bill. The lowest it has ever been was $200. I’ve asked, and been laughed at by my apartment management, about an updated hvac unit and double paned windows. I’ve replace the seals on all the windows and outside doors. But nothing is working to lower our bill. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated :-)

    • Beth says

      You didn’t mention your thermostat setting or if you have a programable one. I have to think that this is the cause of the utility cost. I’m in central florida and with 3-4 people in the house, never had power bill over $170. In the winter it is often only $60-90. I use a programmable thermostat with the temp at 80-82 during day when gone (I would have it even higher if I didn’t have pets in the house) and 78 when home + ceiling fans as needed. I usually set it at 77 at night because I like it cooler. In the winter I have it at 60 when gone and 62-65 when home. I recently got a space heater to use when it is just too much of a chill when home. That way I stay toasty warm without having to heat the whole house. I wish I had gotten a space heater before!

    • Tammy says

      I would suggest not using the dryer at all in the summer time if possible, and even unplugging the washer and dryer and try washing late late at night or early in the morning if possible. Apartments can be drafty so putting a towel up to your door to keep the cool/hot air in. Put up black out curtains to the windows. If you can’t afford them black trash bags work great. Hope some of this helps

    • A.M.B. says

      I’m in North Central FL. I had a lot of trouble with my apartment heating up to 90 degrees during the day because the large glass windows faced east & west. I got some cheap shade cloth (for planting) and put it on the windows as well as buying blackout curtains. My bill dropped $30!

  62. Rose says

    Something we did in our old house – my husband worked nights and we had single-paned windows. So he bought foam-core insulation panels and cut them to the size of the bedroom windows. It made it completely dark in the bedroom and kept the air conditioning in. The downside was that it was noticeable from outside, but that could be helped by covering it with fabric and pretending it’s a curtain :)
    The biggest difference for the whole house was when I insulated the attic door (Home Depot sold a kit for just that). No more hot spot in the middle of the hallway!

  63. Justine says

    Little kitchen things – and I can’t technically measure how much they save – but I have an electric stove and i always put a lid on it when I’m boiling water. At least in theory, it should boil faster (since less of the heat escapes) and thus save on electricity (and time!). I also use less water than what the pasta package says is needed – boils faster and saves water. I try to reuse the water from boiling pasta for watering flowers/garden/etc. When I’m really on top of things, I keep some kind of jug under the kitchen sink and I run water in it while I’m waiting for it to heat up for dishwashing – I can later use that water for flowers/garden. And lastly, I often will turn the oven off a few minutes before the timer beeps, and just leave the door closed and the food in there – particularly if it’s a casserole where everything was already cooked when I put it in the oven. I figure the temperature won’t drop instantly, so the food can still heat. Clearly, putting multiple items in the oven at once and/or using a toaster oven when you’re making smaller quantities also help.
    Again – none of these will make you rich overnight, but every penny counts, right?!
    Oh yeah, and this doesn’t really save anything, but I signed up for the Equal Payment Plan for my electric and my gas which at least makes my budgeting easier to do. They average the last years’ costs and I pay the same price every month for 11 months, and the 12th month I pay what’s left or they give me a credit. I still get a bill every month showing my usage and whether they owe me or I owe them at that moment in time, so I can still keep track. I’ve been doing it for a few years, and it has been hugely helpful to not have huge summer electric bills and really small winter ones, making the budgeting harder. I recommend seeing if your company(ies) offer it.

    • Betty-Anne says

      Shutting the oven and burners off for the last part of cooking was something they did during the depression to save money.

  64. Nancy says

    Hey. I love your tips. I am from Canada so not everything is the same for me but I get a lot if good ideas from you. I recently moved out on my own (finally :)) and one thing I did was when I was buying my pots and pans I bought a set that had copper bottoms. The copper holds the heat so I can boil water a lot faster than with pots that don’t have copper bottoms and a lot of times things I used to cook on medium for 10 minutes are done on low in 8 minutes which saves me time and energy. I waited for my set to go on sale at Walmart. It was a $300 set with 4 pots and 3 pans that I got for $75 but your sales are a lot better in the US so it might be something to look for. :)
    Another thing I do is if its a reasonable temperature outside not too hot or cold, I turn the thermostat off completely and see how the house feels. I can get away with leaving it off a LOT of the time. And then sometimes use a fan to cool the place down or turn the heat on for an hour to warm up a bit. However our temperature here has been fluctuating like crazy so I’ve had a hard time doing that lately.
    Good luck!

  65. Angela says

    Besides heating blankets they make heated mattress covers. Love having the heat below instead of from the top. I also use a heated throw when sitting around. Need to install my solar drier this year!

  66. says

    I ‘ll take any advise on this i can get. I just cant get my electric bill down!! We leave the house at 6:45 am and get home at the earliest 5pm I turn the heater on 20 mins before we start to take a bath and turn it off as soon as were done. I dont own a dryer either. What else can I do?!

  67. Carol says

    We live int he midwest, summers are humid which makes it feel hotter and winters are just cold. I LOVE to use my crockpot, which works great with my Once a Month Cooking habit. I used to hate coming home from work in June to have the kitchen heated up from the crockpot. Now, I put it in the garage. It’s already hot in there and my house isn’t being heated. A friend of mine that doesnt’ have a garage has been putting her’s out on her balcony in the summer. I’d be nervous about pests, but she says that it hasn’t been an issue.

  68. Fabs says

    I just found your site and I am loving your tips! I grew up with a father who was pretty money savvy (and since we didn’t have much, it was a blessing). Unfortunately, my husband grew up in a not so savvy family, so I am always trying to introduce ideas to help with our household (we currently both work and have no children, but I figure its better to lay a good foundation for when babies come). I am also the thermostat Nazi and try to keep our home at a “comfy” 65 degrees and turn it off when we go to bed and while we are out. We also keep a space heater in our bathroom to cut the chill in the mornings.
    I am a big fan of having a hot water bottle in my bed at night, not only does it warm up where I am going to lay down but I can keep it at my feet to keep my toes warm. I also use my hubby to keep warm, however he gets hot too easily. :)
    For the summers (it easily gets over 100 here), we use ceiling fans and keep our blackout curtains shut during the day (especially the hottest times of the day).
    Thanks for all the other new ideas everyone! :)

    • says

      Love the hot water bottle idea. It reminds me of the time when people put heated bricks at the foot of their beds to keep warm, only the hot water bottle seems a little more comfy–LOL!

      • Betty-Anne says

        My husband’s family were frugal immigrants that heated large stones in the oven and wrapped them in newspaper to put under the covers for the children.

        • says

          My mom’s family used bricks wrapped in fabric. My neighbor just made me something similar – a cloth bag filled with white rice that you heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. I recently put it at the foot of our bed to keep my feet nice and toasty. It’s a little softer than a a stone. :)

  69. Terri says

    I’ve worked for our local Utility company for 7 years. There have been some great tips listed, but I’ll add a few more. Get rid of any space heaters you might have, even those that say ‘energy efficient’. Space heaters are only designed to heat the air thats within 4 ft in front of it. So unless you are heating a closet, the majority of energy is being wasted. A space heater can easily add $40/ month to your electric bill and since most companies bill 3-4 weeks behind you may not even remember that cold snap where you had it plugged in. You’re better off turning up your thermostat for those few days.

    Next, it might seem simple but a dripping tap or running toilet can use as much water in a day that you’d normally use in a month. Whenever we see water bills where the usage is over 100m3 – 95% of the time the toilet is running. You know that sound where you have to jiggle the toilet handle to stop? That little stream of water can equal a swiming pool in a week. Normally either the chain is catching on something or the flap is not sealing. These are easy DIY fixes for under $10-20. There are tons of videos on YouTube to fix it yourself.

    Next if you have underground sprinklers, an underground leak can sap gallons of water a day. To see if that’s a culprit shut off the main tap for the sprinklers for 24 hours. When you turn it bck on, listen carefully. If the seal is good you will hear virtually nothing when you turn it back on. If you hear a rush of water it means the existing water in the pipes have leaked or been displaced and new water is gushing to fill the space.

    Lastly equilized ( or budget) billing is a great option if you live in an area where one season tends to harshly Iimpact your bill. Summer a/c or winter heating can double or triple your normal bill. Equalized billing will take your last 12 months, average them and that’s what you’ll pay monthly. Once a year your reconciliation or ‘true-up’ will be done and you’ll either owe or receive a refund. Just make sure that you still review your bill monthly to watch for any spikes or unusual drops that might indicate a potential problem.

  70. tami says

    I bought an old church in N Minnesota. I live in a very small space (the hallway is my livingroom). I did install a small shower, but on laundry day I indulge and bathe in a 40 gal stock tank (use 10-15 gal) so I can bucket the used water (soap and shampoo already included) into the wash machine. I use candles bought from a thrift store or a headlamp to see @ night vs electric lights. I flush my toilet with dish pan water, the suds helping clean the stool. Today I cooked a handful of green beans in an electric tea kettle, which boils very fast so I could unplug and let finish cooking. I have a very small refrigerator, use a toaster oven for baking and antique hand appliances whenever possible. My utility bill for electric, water and sewer runs about 48./mo. In summer I can get this lower as I collect rain water off the metal roof and use it for any grey water purpose (sewer is determined by water meter, just don’t use THAT water). I also have a solar camp oven to make meals or warm water with. A lot of my camping background/gear is brought to daily living, and I sure like the extra money it leaves in my pocket! I am debt free.

  71. Jean says

    Thanks for sharing the tips about not using the dryer. I have gone in spurts about using and not using, but I love the thought of using it for ten minutes then hanging everything. This should be great saver. I put an app on my cell phone that is a timer, easier for me to hear that one then my kitchen timer. Also we bought some energy savers through amazon (Belkin makes them) that we put anything that needs to be charged on, you can set them for 1/2, 3 or 6 hours. They charge the item for the time set then shut off. Thanks again for the tips. :)

  72. Kristen says

    Has anyone tried turning all the house power off at night? Frig/freezer maintains temp fine with no one opening the door, and I can’t think of anything else (except heat in the cooler months) that requires energy during the night. I know it sounds kinda extreme, but I also am really sensitive to noise and it helps me to sleep. Are there things I’m missing that make this a bad idea?

    • says

      I have never heard anything about this. I do know that it is more energy efficient to keep your a/c at a constant temperature rather than turning it off and having the compressor do the work to get your house back to the temperature you want. I will post the question on Facebook and see what kind of feedback we receive.

    • Betty-Anne says

      I have heard of people doing this, for those suffering from the effects of EMF’s, (electric magnetic fields).

  73. Kristen says

    Thanks! Just a note – i live in an area that doesn’t have much hot in the summers, so most houses do not have a/c. So i know that would be an issue for others, but not here.

  74. Natarsha says

    It’s interesting to see the differences in the US and Australia. I live in South Australia, and I do own a dryer but its hardly been used, and so many of my friends don’t have one, we all seem to put it on an outside line. Often it means timing it with the weather and make take 2 days to dry in the winter. We do have one under shade too so I can use that I it rains, and a fold out clothes horse tht we can dry off next to the heater if we must. I don’t like putting clothes in the dryer anyway as it often affects the shape, although I do occasionally put the towels in after they’ve been on the line for a whole as it softens them

  75. says

    Hi, I love your blog! My dryer broke down almost 2 years ago and I have been line-drying ever since. It still will air-dry, just won’t heat up. All my clothes—-including towels and bed sheets, go on the line. In the winter, my basement has several clothes lines spanning across the room, and in the summer, the clothes go outside. Here’s how I get my clothes, sheets and towels soft: (By the way, I make my own laundry detergent, too) White vinegar with a few drops of lavender essential oil makes a wonderful liquid fabric softener. After the clothes are done drying on the line, I transfer to my dryer to tumble and fluff with home-made felted wool balls with a few drops of essential oils to give the clothes a nice scent. My clothes are just as soft as Downy-soaked clothes!

  76. Erna says

    Most of us have those microwave heat wraps. They lose heat fast and I’ve never understood whay people likethem. Then I got the idea to heat one and put it at the foot of the bed under the covers. It warms up the area where my feet go and styas warm longer because it’s between the blankets. I go to sleep quicker because my feet are warm.

    • says

      When my mother was a little girl they would heat bricks in the fireplace and wrap them up in thick fabric to put at the foot of the bed. Your plan seems a lot safer–LOL!

  77. caitlin says

    My husband and I don’t have a TV. Our electricity bill is around $200 for 3 months – about 1/3 of the average bill for homes similar to ours in Victoria. I’m not saying give up TV if you enjoy it (we don’t) just think about how often the TV is on but you’re not really watching – It’s costing you hundreds of dollars! (don’t forget to unplug – standby uses just as much energy as when the TV is turned on).

  78. Jessica says

    One thing my mom always did when I was growing up that saved on the water bill is to not drain the bathtub after a bath, or plug up the drain during the end of your shower, and use that water to flush your toilet. Just take a plastic bucket or trash can and pour the water into the bowl and it will flush it.
    I just started using felted wool balls when I use my dryer and I have noticed they cut the drying time down some and the towels are WAY softer and absorb water better since I use less liquid fabric softener.

  79. Judy says

    I hang out as many of our clothes as possible, but on jeans I hang outside when weather is good or hang inside if not and my guys put them in dryer while taking shower in the mornings and they are never stiff.

  80. Charlene says

    We keep our home at 68 during the winter, sometimes down to 65 if we had a few warm days. (in upstate NY that doesn’t happen a lot, but we always hope and pray!) We have window air conditioners in the bedrooms for when it gets really hot and muggy during the summer. We try to keep those between 72 and 78 depending on the nighttime temperatures. During the day they are shut off. Being disabled and taking meds that cause me to have hot flashes, I live with a personal fan next to me all the TIME! :) We are switching to a gas dryer, as that is less expensive to use and we also hang up clothes to dry. We do dishes by hand as we don’t have a dishwasher. But, even when we did we did dishes by hand to keep costs down. Another way to keep costs down during the winter, we put heavy drapes up separating the foyer from the living room and the dinning room. This keeps our main living space much warmer. We also do a lot of baking in the winter and are in the process of building an outdoor oven for use during the summer. (I have to admit, the outdoor oven is less about saving money and more about the coolness factor of having an outdoor pizza and baking oven!

  81. Emma says

    What’s cheaper to run, a tv or a radio? We have two dogs and leave the tv on for them all day while we are at work as white noise. If we don’t they tend to bark at whoever walks past the house. Wondering if it would be cheaper to leave a radio on instead

  82. Cory says

    I’m reading some of your money saving utility tips. Very interesting. Have you tried switching out your incandescent light bulbs for either CFL/LED? I’m in the process of trying to switch my incandescent/halogen/CFL bulbs with $ saving LED bulbs. They are pricey from the onset depending on the bulb BUT, they aren’t made with mercury which is more environment friendly & they last roughly 25+ years! So they cost in most cases UNDER $5 a year to run per bulb! Another plus is they don’t get HOT. The prices are going down & in some cases you can print a 10% discount coupon on moving. Also, not running multiple large appliances simultaneously keeps the electric bill down as well. I will stagger the washer/dryer & run the dishwasher late at night while we’re asleep & the hot water isn’t being used anyway. Speaking of HOT water turn the HOT water tank down it’s plenty hot & can reduce the risk of scalding.. Insulating the hot water tank with a “hot water tank blanket” about $20 keeps water hotter longer. Older toilets use 1-2 gallons MORE water than a newer water saving toilet.. However you don’t have to buy a new toilet simply changing the internal flush valve/fill valve/flapper will cost about $20. & takes about 30mins & using water saving faucet aerated

    • says

      Thanks for the ideas Cory! I have not switched our light bulbs, but we did turn down the hot water tank. Another idea that I read for the toilet is to place a brick in the tank so that there is less volume to fill up.

      • Alexa S. says

        I know this comment is old, but I wasn’t sure if anyone had responded to it yet: Don’t us a brick! The water will cause the brick to break down and debris from that will start gunking up tank. Use a plastic or glass jar filled with water instead. It will take up volume and won’t break the toilet. :)

    • Megan says

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am seven months pregnant and had planned on staying at home after my daughter arrived until my husband was unexpectedly laid off this week. Trying to figure out how the three of us will live on my much smaller income has been terrifying but you have given me a lot of hope. Thank you for being such an encouragement!

      • says

        You are very welcome Megan! I am so sorry that you are in that position, but if you are committed you can make it work until your husband can find work. Have him take any opportunity in the meantime (delivering pizza, etc.) and cut out everything you can from the budget. I pray that you will be able to be at peace in this stressful situation.

  83. Alexa S. says

    I know this comment is old, but I wasn’t sure if anyone had responded to it yet: Don’t us a brick! The water will cause the brick to break down and debris from that will start gunking up tank. Use a plastic or glass jar filled with water instead. It will take up volume and won’t break the toilet. :)

  84. Cyndee says

    A lot of people have commented about changing how they cook to save money. I have a double boiler style stock pot where the interior pot is actually a strainer. My family loves pasta type dishes, so when I cook for one meal and that pasta is done, I lift out the interior pot and the water drains back into the outer pot. Then I still have hot water to make a second batch of pasta (kids love shells with tuna, peas, mayo type salad for their lunches) with the water that’s left. Even if I have to add a little more water to the pot, the other water was just boiling from batch 1 and it heats up really fast for batch 2.

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