Mar
12
2012

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

by Kimberlee Stokes Affiliate Link Disclosure B

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.

 

You May Also Enjoy:

More Money Saving Ideas!

Frugal Family Fun

More Laundry Room Savings

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Danielle Grotewiel

    For those in a cooler climate, we bought a Dryernet. http://www.dryernet.com Hwen you do use your dryer it will help heat your home. Add a little water and you get some much needed humidity as well.

  • Luck

    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

      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.

  • Melissa

    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!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      I am so glad that I could encourage you Melissa. Thanks for letting me know. :)

  • Nancy P

    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.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks so much Nancy!

  • Jolene

    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.

    • carissa

      Good to know! Thanks Jolene!

  • Lara

    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.

  • Jessica

    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.

  • Pam

    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!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Good advice Pam–thanks!

  • Ladah

    What about drying towels, sheets and blankets? Do you just bite the bullet and use the dryer?

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Yes, I dry towels, sheets and blankets in the dryer. :)

      • Julie

        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!

        • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

          Thanks Julie! I had not thought about drying the sheets over my kitchen chairs – brilliant!

          • Hannah

            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!)

          • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

            Thanks for the idea Hannah!

  • Rachel

    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!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Really great ideas Rachel–thanks for sharing!

      • Julie

        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

  • Jewel

    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.

  • Shelley

    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!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      I am so glad that you have found some helpful ideas here Shelley. Good luck with your move!

  • Kelly

    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.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Wow-thanks for making me number 2! :) As a matter of fact, we do have some “Cool God” stories and you can read a few of them here: http://thepeacefulmom.com/god-provides/

    • Debbie

      I find that shopping at a thrift store for curtains that already have an insulated backing on them to sew onto your existing curtains can cost less than new backing. That is unless your friend is going as a missionary to Turkey :-)

      • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

        Ooh–super idea! Thanks Debbie!

  • Alison Rochon

    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!

  • Sarah N

    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.

  • J.Rose

    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 :)

  • Umm Muhammad

    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.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      That’s a great idea. I have placed my drying rack in the shower when I have company. :)

      • Judy

        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 :D . It also extends the life of the clothes – less shrinkage, fading & wear.

        • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

          I do notice that our clothes fade less and last longer. Thanks for the reminder Judy!

  • Umm Muhammad

    I should clarify that I hang the clothes up on hangers and hang them on the shower rod.

  • Cathy

    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.

    • Rachael

      Could you please provide more information on leasing?

  • Dana

    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

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

  • ampri

    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.

  • Carri

    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

      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

      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.

      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!

      • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

        Great idea! I’m glad that your bill dropped significantly. :)

  • Rose

    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!

  • Justine

    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

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

  • Nancy

    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!

  • Angela

    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!

  • http://www.collectionsfrommyheart.blogspot.com Rhiannon

    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?!

  • Carol

    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.

    • Betty-Anne

      If you have a veranda or balcony you can use your crockpot outside when it’s not raining on summer days.

  • Fabs

    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! :)

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      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

        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.

        • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

          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. :)

  • Terri

    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.

  • tami

    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.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Wow! You are serious about saving money. :) Good for you for being debt free Tami!

  • Jean

    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. :)

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks for the tip about the chargers with a timer Jean. I had not heard about them previously.

  • Kristen

    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?

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      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.

      • Phill

        Thats actualy an old wifes tale. Been in Heating ad Air for 10 yrs. This only applies for about 4 hrs. after the thermostat satisfies, and it’s effect is minimal.

        • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

          Thanks for the information. I was not aware of that.

    • Betty-Anne

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

  • Kristen

    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.

  • Natarsha

    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

  • http://pennysuemueller.com Penny

    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!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Welcome Penny! Thanks for the tips. I have never tried vinegar as a fabric softener. :)

  • http://pennysuemueller.com Penny

    ..and no, your clothes will not smell like pickles. :-)

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Hahaha!

  • Cindy

    Which is cheaper, smart use of your washer/dryer or going to a laundry-mat?
    Thank you.

  • Erna

    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.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      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!

  • caitlin

    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).

  • Jessica

    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.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Great tip to save the bath water Jessica. I have also heard of people using the bath water to water plants.

  • Judy

    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.

  • Charlene

    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!

  • Emma

    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

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Very interesting question Emma! I have no idea, but I would think that the radio would be cheaper. I wonder if you could Google it.

  • Cory

    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 lowes.com/ 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

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      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.

  • http://www.frugaltwenties.com J.M.

    I love what’s going on here! When I switched to hang drying I noticed a huge difference. Same goes with unplugging unnecessary electronics. If it helps any more I have an article on some other ways you can save money on utilities for little to no money- http://frugaltwenties.com/top-10-ways-to-save-money-on-utilities-for-virtually-0/

    Thanks!

  • Megan

    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!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      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.

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