18 Easy, Frugal Ways to Save Money on Electricity

The cost of electricity and natural gas are both rising at alarming rates. So, lowering your electric bill can seem daunting – or even downright impossible. Yet, there are many simple ways that you can easily lower your electric usage.

To see how we cut our electric bill in half in just six weeks, watch this video.

1. Switch to LED Lightbulbs

Both incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs are inefficient. You need to switch to all LED lighting, which uses very little electricity. Most LED bulbs use just 10 watts of power. Comparatively, old-fashioned bulbs use between 40 and 100 watts.

2. Unscrew Unneeded Lightbulbs

Most light fixtures use three to five bulbs. Yet, you often don’t need all those bulbs just to light up the room or to serve your purpose. So, unscrew all but one or two of them. The loss of lighting really isn’t that noticeable. If you find you need more lighting, it’s easy to reach up and screw in some additional bulbs.

3. Turn Your Thermostat Up or Down

Turning the thermostat up in the summer or down in the winter, is one of the easiest ways to move the needle on your final bill. A change of just one degree will lower your final by between one and three percent. For us, it’s that discount has been about two percent.

As a practical example, I turned the central air up three degrees in August. Then, I waited to see if the family really noticed the difference. They didn’t.

Yet, that same three degree rise in the thermostat saved us six percent on our final bill. If our average summer bill is $200, that translates to a savings of $12 on our bill. Over a period of twelve months, that savings balloons to $144!

4. Unplug Appliances When Not in Use

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A lot of electrical appliances use something called phantom power. It’s also known as vampire or stand-by power. Anything that has a timer, a clock, or standby power creates phantom power. Anytime that you an item that uses transformer adapters, that appliance is drawing some power all the time. If, like the average family, you have 10 or 15 phantom power items in your home, it can add up to $200 a year to your utility bills.

One method of solving the problem of phantom power is to use smart power strips. Each strip has five to ten outlets. One or two of the outlets is called the control. Plug your main item (a television, for instance) into the control. Then, plug auxiliary items (like a blu ray player or amplifier) into the remaining receptacles on the power strip. .

Now, when the control item is shut off, power is shut off to all other outlets on the strip. This means you’ll no longer be running phantom power on these outlets. Repeat this process throughout your home. Remember, phantom power could be costing you $200 a year.

5. Transfer Your Morning Pot of Coffee to a Thermos

Rather than leaving coffee on the hot plate, invest in a good-quality thermos. It will save you a lot of electricity, because when you’re when you’re running the hot plate on your coffeemaker, you’re using a lot of power. Coffee pots consume an average of 300 watts of electricity just to keep the hot plate warm.

6. Keep Your Fridge at Optimal Temperatures

Keep your refrigerator running between 36 and 38 degrees. That’s that’s the safest temperatures for keeping food fresh Don’t let the temperature go above 40.

The only way you’re really going to know what the temperature is, is to put a refrigerator thermometer in it.

A refrigerator thermometer is very, very inexpensive. Simply place it in your refrigerator. Avoid the area directly under the vents. You’ll get an inaccurate reading, because it’s going to be colder there than it is other places in your refrigerator. Leave the thermometer in place for at least four hours. Then, check the temperature immediately after opening the refrigerator door.

Alternately, you can use a thermometer that will measure temperatures between 80 degrees and zero degrees. If it’s a bulb thermometer, get a glass and fill it with some water. Place it on the center shelf of your refrigerator for at least eight hours or overnight.

The next morning, open the refrigerator, take out the glass of water, and immediately put the bulb thermometer in the cup of water. Wait a few seconds and check the temperature on the thermometer. That is the temperature in the refrigerator.

7. Keep the Refrigerator and Freezer Full.

Whenever you open the door of the fridge or freezer, you’re letting in the ambient air temperature from your room. That air is going to rush in and quickly fill up any empty spaces.

However, if your refrigerator is mostly full, then it’s going to keep it colder because you’ve got items in there that are refrigerator temperature. There’s less room for the warmer, room temperature air to get in there.

Read these related posts with more information about lowering utility bills.

8. Organize the Contents of Your Refrigerator and Freezer

When you organize your fridge and freezer in categories, not only do you optimize precious space, you also use less energy.

Why? Because, when you open the door, you won’t need stand there, looking for the location of any item. If you know where every item is located, you can open the door, pull out what you need, and immediately shut the door. You will minimize the amount of time the refrigerator door is open, saving both time and money.

9. Open the Refrigerator Door Less Often

This is another one of those tips where people think what possible difference? It doesn’t cost much energy to open your refrigerator door. What possible difference is that going to make to me after some time, so we’re going to tell you exactly what difference that it makes because experts have figured out exactly what it costs to open your refrigerator door.

Opening the door can account for up to seven percent of your annual refrigerator energy usage. Some experts even say it can be as high as ten to fourteen percent.

10. Turn off the Ice Maker

You’ll add between fourteen and twenty percent to your food cooling bills just to run that little ice maker. That’s quite a bit just for a little additional convenience.

11. Store Food Properly

Photo by Ello on Unsplash

Be sure you’re storing the items in the refrigerator with optimum shelf life in mind. Don’t place open containers of liquids in the fridge. Put items which need to be nice and cold. like apples, in the crisper drawer. Avoid placing tender leaf lettuce too near the interior vents, This area tends to be too cold, freezing the leaves.

12. Don’t Put Warm Food into Your Refrigerator

If you’ve just recently baked something, even if you’ve had it sitting on the stove for a little bit, if it’s still warm to the touch, don’t put it in your refrigerator, because that’s going to cause it will have to work really hard to cool that item down.

13. Vacuum Your Refrigerator Coils

These coils are usually on the back or on the bottom of your fridge and cool the refrigerant. However, if they’re all filled with gunk and dust, they work harder and build up heat. If they’re not able to do that, the coils are not going to work as efficiently and will use more energy.

The recommendation is to vacuum the coils twice a year. By doing so, you can reduce your refrigerator energy usage by up to thirty percent.

14. Put Lids on Pots when Cooking.

A pot that has a lid on it is going to heat up considerably faster than one which does not have a lid. It saves you money and food will cook more quickly.

15. Lower the Temperature of your Water Heater

Here’s what people don’t realize about water heaters. There are three things that comprise the vast majority of your utility bill: heating, cooling, and water heating. That means that running your water heater may be costing substantially more money than you think it does.

Even though most factories set their water heater temperature at 140 degrees, the much safer and energy saving recommendation is 120 degrees.

In fact, when you’re going to be gone for a few days, the temperature setting can be placed on “standby” or “vacation” mode. If your water heater doesn’t have a setting marked as “vacation” or “standby”, just use the lowest heat setting. After all, you don’t want to pay to heat water while you’re gone from home.

16. Wash Full Loads of Laundry in Cold Water

The cost of doing laundry certainly varies according to the size of your family and the number of loads you do each week. However, one thing remains constant: by washing only full loads and using cold water, you will save you a significant amount of money.

17. Use On-line Websites for Tips on Saving on Energy

Check in the community, state, or country in which you reside to see if there is an agency that helps residents figure out how to save money on their heating and cooling bills. These are generally not-for-profits.

In Illinois, the Citizens Utility Board is one such agency who offers very helpful advice and information through their website and at in-person events.

18. Find Out Which Items Use the Most Energy

It’s hard to know where to effectively reduce electric usage if you don’t first identify “energy hogs” in your home. You may be surprised by which appliances are sucking energy at an alarming rate.

Here are two examples.

Using a toaster oven will cost you just one-third the amount of cooking the same dinner in a full-size electric oven. In hot weather, running a fan will cost between 1-2¢ per hour, while a central air conditioner adds between 55-88¢ per hour to your bill.

Granted, a lot depends on the size, age, and efficiency of your appliances. However, in each of these examples, there is a clear winner when it comes to lowering your energy bills.

Most owner’s manuals will list the running power of any item. You can also look on-line at the manufacturer or contact the manufacturer directly to find this information.


If an item plugs into the wall, there is another very practical way to determine running power. Use a Kill-A-Watt, an electricity usage monitor. This simple-to-use device costs under $40 and is in nearly weekly use in our home.

To use it, plug the appliance or item into the front of the Kill-a-Watt. Turn the appliance or item on. Find the button on front of the Kill- A-Watt which is labelled, “watts”. Push on it and the unit will display the power usage (watts) of the item you are testing.

Once you know how many watts any item uses, you can then determine how often you want to use it. If it is an “energy hog”, you may want to find alternative ways to heat, cook, or keep cool without raising your energy bill.

Need more help?

Grab our free home energy checklist filled with twenty free ways to lower energy bills in every room of the house.


4 thoughts on “18 Easy, Frugal Ways to Save Money on Electricity”

  1. I have an electricity question that’s bugged me a long time and you may have answered it before but if so, I missed it. When I need to heat water on my electric stove, should I let the hot water run and fill the pot with that and put on the stove eye or start with cold water and let the stove do all the heating? Just wondering which way would use less energy?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Oh gosh, that’s a tough one. So, that would mean you’d need the ability to figure out the cost of getting warm water from the water heater to the faucet. And there’s no easy way to do that.

      Reply

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