Reducing Energy Costs

Reducing energy use around your is one way to gain a little more wiggle room in your budget.

The challenge for Day 26 of 31 Days to a Better Bank Balance is to choose one of these ideas and implement it today. While you’re at it, you may want to choose a few of the ideas that may take a little time to implement in the future.

Let’s start with the biggest money-eater when it comes to energy: heating and cooling costs.

  • Stop energy leaks by caulking, using weatherstripping and spray foam, and installing gaskets around outlets (You can use this Do-It-Yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating to learn how to find hidden leaks.)
  • If you have a fireplace, close the damper when it’s not in use
  • Replace inefficient windows and doors
  • Improve insulation
  • Have ceiling fans blow down in the summer and up in the winter
  • Keep your curtains closed during the day in the summer, and open during the day in the winter
  • Use CFLs to keep your house cooler in the summer (regular bulbs put out a surprising amount of heat)
  • Be sure your heating & cooling system is the right size for your house (neither too large nor too small) and leave the vast majority of vents open
  • Install and use a programmable thermostat
  • Set your thermostat to auto instead of on
  • Lower the temperature of your thermostat in the winter & raise it in the summer
  • Replace air filters monthly

Of course, taking aim at heating and cooling costs aren’t the only way you can reduce energy costs. Making a few changes to your daily habits can save you money as well. For example, you could:

  • Turn off lights when you’re not using them
  • Wash your clothes on cold instead of hot or warm
  • Minimize the number of laundry loads you do
  • Line dry your clothes (partially or completely)
  • Lower the temperature on your water heater
  • If your utility offers a time-of-use plan, sign up for it and make sure you meet the requirements
  • Replace appliances with more energy-efficient models, either when they need to be replaced, or if they happen to be horrifically outdated. If you qualify, you may even be able to get a free appliance from the government.
  • Keep your fridge & freezer pretty full
  • Plant deciduous trees (for shade in the summer, and to let the sunlight in in the winter)
  • Put a stake through “energy vampires” by unplugging them when you’re not using them. (Energy vampires are usually items that are connected to an outlet with a power strip or a big brick — they cause a phantom energy loss even when they’re not actively being used.)


  • Our house was recently converted to a smart meter for gas and electric. I now can follow my usage online, and it is set on my Google homepage. It is really interesting to watch my daily usage, and the different activities that add up!

    • You know we have a smart meter too, and can access it online, but I haven’t quite gotten the hang of how it might benefit me since the data doesn’t appear until a day later. Does yours appear in real time?

  • After 10 years of projects, our home is about as energy efficient as it can be. (new doors, windows, insulation, new furnace, new appliances).

    My electricity bill is still over $100/mo which I’m not happy with and I wonder how to make that better. The one thing I haven’t done though is look at laundry costs and I wonder how big a dent it would make with my family of 4.

    • If you wash things in hot water it could make a difference. It takes a lot of energy to heat up a bunch of water. Have you checked for drafts in unlikely places too? That may also make a difference.