5 Ways to Save Money on Your Energy Bill

by on Jan 22 2013 - 28 Comments

On Monday the wind chill in Minnesota approached -50 degrees. That’s pretty dang cold. I don’t want to hear anyone complaining about temps in the 30s 40s or 50s being cold!

As a recent homeowner, one thing I am hating is the relatively huge jump in our energy bill. There’s a LOT more space to account for in a house versus an apartment. The frigid weather that makes up Minnesota winters hasn’t helped.

Below is five ways to save money on your energy bill. Some require more up-front investment than others, but all are good things to keep in mind – especially if you have to live through freezing cold winters.

1) Turn the heat down when you leave or go to sleep


Photo by John Loo

Turning the heat down when you leave the house or go to bed is the simplest way to save money on your heating bills. It only requires either programming a thermostat to drop the temperature at night and when you are gone, or to manually change it whenever you leave or go to bed.

Of course, this works better if everyone in your household is gone around the same time each day, but for the most part people sleep at the same time so that’s a time you can definitely turn the thermostat down.

2) Buy energy-efficient appliances

Old appliances may last longer than newer ones, but they will cost you more money to run. Every year appliances get more energy efficient. I don’t think you can shop for appliances these days without a high majority of brands boasting their energy efficiency.

We recently replaced two very old appliances in our rental unit (think 20+ years old). While I can’t say how much it would cost to run them, I can only imagine the difference would be material when comparing the cost of those versus the cost of the two new appliances we purchased. Plus, it’s always nice to have new stuff ;)

If you are in the market for new appliances, check out this offer from the Home Depot: 10% Off Appliances $397 or More. Plus, Free Delivery and Haul Away. Online Only.

3) Seal windows during the winter

If you have old windows you are likely losing a lot of heat during the winter (and subsequently spending a lot more money on heat). Sealing windows is a relatively quick and inexpensive process. The 3M Indoor Insulator Kitcosts just $19 and covers five windows.

Ideally you could just replace all your windows with energy efficient ones (sometimes there are even tax credits available if you go this route). If you don’t have thousands in your budget for new windows, sealing them is a quick and inexpensive fix that will help you retain more of the heat in your home.

4) Fix drafty doors

Our front door is a major source of energy loss for us. There is a constant draft that comes through the bottom, resulting in loss of warm air in the winter. The quick fix is putting towels under the door. Additionally, it’s important that there is some sort of insulation around the edges of the door. I recently replaced the doorknobs on our door and had to remove some of the insulation. You can feel the difference when you put your hand by that part of the door versus the insulated portion.

Thankfully for me (and anyone else with a door that is costing them money from heating/cooling loss) the fix is fairly simple and inexpensive.

5) Install energy-efficient toilets

If you haven’t gone toilet shopping recently (I don’t know many who have) you might not know that toilets are relatively inexpensive. If you shop for one that is on sale, you can find them in the $50-$150 range. The newer toilets are energy efficient and result in savings on your utility bill.

Similar to the old appliances I recently replaced, I also replaced a (very) old toilet. They are very easy to replace and even if it’s your first time replacing one, you can learn how to do it quickly through a Google search.

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What do you do to save money on your energy bill? If you own a house, do you have any long-term plans to replace windows/appliances for the energy savings?
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28 comments
moneymatters
moneymatters

One tip that I was recently told was to lower the temp on your hot water heater.   It accounts for anywhere from 14-25% of your energy bill every year, and by lowering it by 10 degrees you can save 3-5% on your bill.   From what I understand a lot of water heaters are set at a temp that is above where they need to be, and you can lower the temp by a good amount without the water losing much of it's warmth.  We just did this a few weeks ago, and haven't noticed much of a difference in the water's temp - but i think we'll be saving a decent amount on our bill.

StudentDebtSurvivor
StudentDebtSurvivor

When we moved to our condo we were amazed at how much money we saved having a programmable thermostat. Our old place didn't have one and so we're loving that we can turn the heat way down during the day then program it to turn on and heat up right before we get home. Our pets probably aren't happy, but they have warm beds to sleep in all day ;-)

Money Life and More
Money Life and More

Did you mean water efficient toilets? I can't think why any toilet would use electricity.I wish we could turn our heat down at night and when we're gone but I have a bird that needs a higher temp so we keep it at 70 during the winter. Luckily we live in Florida so it isn't that expensive. 

Alison Elissa Horner
Alison Elissa Horner

Thanks for the tips!  We do drop the temperature at night, but I hadn't heard of the window sealing idea before.  I know one project that we've been meaning to get to relating to energy efficiency is improving our attic insulation.

TacklingOurDebt
TacklingOurDebt

We have that thermostat as well. And it is set to drop at night. I can't sleep if it is too warm at night anyways, so it works well. Our monthly bill is around  $250 in the summer (we don't have AC) and in the winter it can get as high as $365. We have had some major cold spells this winter too. It just comes with the territory.

BudgetBlonde
BudgetBlonde

I pay the same amount for electricity here in Grenada in a 270sq ft apartment that I did in Richmond, VA in a 1400 sq ft townhome. The energy here is just outrageous. We even recently had a $500US bill because my husband left on the AC 24/7 when he was studying for exam week. It's crazy, and I'm looking forward to more reasonable prices back in the states next year!

Eyesonthedollar
Eyesonthedollar

We do need to replace a door in our bedroom. It was never installed correctly and has gaps. That is always on the list, but towels work pretty well, so it's never made it to the top. 

Ugifter
Ugifter

You can get reftrofit kits that will make your toilets dual flush, too.  My Dad has installed them at our place and my grandma's.  I think they're about $20/ea.

DebtRoundUp
DebtRoundUp

That is cold DC!  I don't know if I would be able to live like that.  I agree with all your points, except for the toilet one.  How does replacing a toilet affect your energy bill?  Isn't that your water bill?  My toilet doesn't use electricity, so unless you have a heated crapper, then I just don't know.  Yes, you can save money on your water bill, but here those bills are different.

Jordann
Jordann

These are great tips, unfortunately, as a renter, many of them aren't applicable to me. One thing we did do, however, is seal the windows. Before sealing them, the drafts were so bad they could be felt several feet away from the window. Now, they're much more air tight. We're still waiting on next month's power bill to see if they made a difference.

SenseofCents
SenseofCents

We really need to fix the drafts that our doors create, it's so freezing next to them!

RFIndependence
RFIndependence

Lots of DIY to look forward too! I use low energy bulbs and make sure appliances are working properly. A washing machine with lime or freezer with too much frost uses more energy to do its job.

FrugalRules
FrugalRules

I was just talking to my in-laws yesterday an they were complaining about their degree weather last week in San Diego and our wind chill here was like -25. These are all great tips, w do #1 a lot. It's much easier to put on an extra blanket or two (and free to boot) as opposed to keeping the house warmer.

Holly at ClubThrifty
Holly at ClubThrifty

Good tip1...especially because it's freeeeeeeeeezing out right now! We do pretty good on our energy bill since we bought new windows.  However, I have been thinking about getting an insulating jacket for our water heater.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @StudentDebtSurvivor Our 20 year old cat is not amused about the drop in temperature at night and during the day.  She hides in the bathroom, which is the room that gets the most heat and lies in the sun during the day.  She'll live : )

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @DebtRoundUp I thought I had mentioned that it wasn't technically your energy bill, but you are right I did not : )

 

I also need to correct my statement: they are easy to replace...assuming the last one was installed correctly!  I dug out an old one yesterday and it essentially wasn't done properly.  Having a contractor look at it today to give guidance on what we should do.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @Jordann Ah yes, the one thing that sucks about being a renter!  You can ask, but no guarantees.  We had old nasty carpet that we steamed every week yet our landlord said it wasn't "that" old....then they replaced it the day after we moved out...pissed!

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @FrugalRules We also have quite a few blankets on our bed.  You just have to make sure you stay fully under the covers or you wake up with your arm frozen haha

Money Life and More
Money Life and More

 @DC @ Young Adult Money Haha sorry I don't always get a chance to read all of the comments :( I'm sure you understand :)

 

I have a cockatiel... not a big bird but still likes to be warm none the less. I have a heat lamp at his cage to keep his cage around 80 degrees year round.

DebtRoundUp
DebtRoundUp

 @DC @ Young Adult Money No problem DC, I just was feeling a little sprite today, so I wanted to call you out on it.

 

I know what you mean regarding installation.  I had a problem with our main line for months.  It was always getting clogged causing toilets to backup and our sink to overflow.  I called out plumber after plumber and no one found the problem.  One day, I decided to do it and after about 5 hours of removing toilets and sinks, I found that the original contractor left a piece of plastic in the drain that was in there just right, so it would spin when water hit it.  I was so pissed and covered in you know what, but I fixed it myself.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @Money Life and More haha I know, I don't read all the comments of blogs I post on either, I more said that to see how you would respond to that : )

 

Very cool that you have a bird!

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @DebtRoundUp Dang, that's pretty intense.  Congrats on getting it fixed, but I can't even imagine the frustration.  I think our issue is "minor"...unfortunately we need it fixed asap as our renter is moving in pretty soon.