Growing up with frugal parents, living life as a frugal adult comes pretty easy for me. I was also really lucky to meet my frugal match in life. My husband and I both agree that we would rather live as frugally as possible so that we can put our money towards the things that we love, like taking trips together as a family.
The problem with living frugally, however, is that eventually you hit a frugal roadblock. You reach a point where you feel like there is literally nothing else to cut back on to save money. We reached that point when we realized how astonishingly high our energy and utility bills were every month. Between power, water, and waste we were spending over $500 a month. For a family of two adults and two tiny kids, that’s insane.
After doing some research on ways to cut back our energy use, we decided to make a string of small changes that, in the end, have saved us thousands of dollars over the course of the last several years.
If you want to save even more money every month, check out these five easy ways to lower your utility bills.
1. Install low-flow faucets and shower heads
Water isn’t free, unfortunately, so we need to be careful with how much we use. Everyday use of faucets and showers can really add up to a big utility bill at the end of the month. One way we have been able to seriously slash our water usage was by installing low-flow shower heads and an energy star toilet. They were simple changes that made a huge difference in our water consumption.
2. Use timer switches
Do you have a tendency to leave electronics or lights on when you’re not using them? I know I do. It’s a bad habit that I need to break, but luckily, timer switches are a really simple tool that helps me to keep lights off even when I forget to flip the switch.
You can either set the switch on a schedule or have it automatically turn off after so many minutes or hours of use. They’re a great way to make sure you don’t leave the living room lamp on all night by accident.
3. Use a usage monitor
Tracking your energy use with home monitoring systems is a great way to understand how to decrease your energy usage. A home monitoring system will help you identify which electronics and appliances are causing your energy bill to be so high. Simply looking at your electric meter outside won’t really tell you much, because it shows kilowatts (kWh) being consumed throughout the home. If you’re willing to make a small investment, you can purchase a system that will measure your kWh consumption and point you to the energy hogs. Some devices even work remotely, so you can monitor your usage from a computer or cell phone.
If you aren’t sure where to look, www.theowl.com is a popular website that has a range of energy monitoring systems.
4. Upgrade or downgrade
Once you’re able to pinpoint those energy hogs in your home, you may be able to either downgrade or upgrade your appliances to help bring down your energy bill every month. For example, if you have an old deep freezer that runs constantly, and you don’t really use it that much, why not get rid of the freezer all together and opt for a smaller, more energy efficient version. You can get smaller, energy-star appliances for $200 or less that will end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.
One upgrade that we were willing to pay for was the installation of an energy-smart thermostat that connected to our home security system. Being able to remotely monitor the temperature of our home and automate the heating and cooling system has saved us hundreds of dollars.
5. Unplug your appliances
Did you know that devices and appliances still pull energy even if they’re turned off? Some devices use standby power, and combined, these energy vampires can suck hundreds of dollars a year out of your budget. Leaving computers on at night, for example, can seriously run up your bill.
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published a list of common appliances and the amounts of energy they use when they’re “off” but plugged in. Scan the list and see what you can do (like unplugging your hairdryer in the bathroom) to save money every year.
Small changes equal big bucks
When you’re trying to live a frugal life, there is only so much you can change in your lifestyle to save money before you hit a frugal road block. Changing your energy consumption is one relatively easy way to continue saving money. Getting rid of energy hog appliances, unplugging devices when you’re not using them, installing low-flow shower heads, faucets, and toilets, and monitoring your usage are all little changes that add up to a surprising amount of money over time.
Do you use any of these techniques to lower your utility bills? How else do you keep your water and energy bills low?