5 Creative Ways to Save: Utilities

Creative Ways to Save on Utilities! ~ Our Cozy Den

Today is the last post in our 5 Creative Ways to Save series! So far, we’ve covered some ways to save money on Christmas, dinner, and entertainment. Today, let’s talk about utilities!

When I first posted about my $650 budget — I got tons of questions about HOW we live on so little. Here on the blog, you can find tons of tips on how to save, like my weekly menus, money saving recipes, and more!

For utilities, it’s common for our electric bill to be $60, our gas (heating) bill to be about $50, and water is about $40. These are just some of the many ways we keep the bills low. I’m sure many of the tips you’ve heard before, but hopefully some of them you haven’t!

Creative Strategy #1: Go unplugged.

Creative Ways to Save on Utilities! ~ Our Cozy Den

This strategy has two facets.

The first is to actually physically unplug things when you’re not using them. Phone chargers, electronics, appliances — everything that you don’t need to keep running, you can unplug. We leave the microwave plugged in, mostly because it has a clock. And it’s heavy. (LOL) But all the other appliances get unplugged and put away: the toaster, mixer, crockpot, blender, coffee pot, etc.

The second part of this is to have “unplugged time” as a family. Try implementing a Screen Free Friday, when you don’t use the tv, computer, or other electronics. Or have just one afternoon a week where the electronics are off, and you play games. We play a lot of games, read a LOT of books, and spend a lot of time outside. All of those things use no energy.

Creative Strategy #2: Reuse

There are many many ways that we can reuse utilities that would otherwise go to waste. Here are a few of the habits we have instilled over the years to bring our bills down:

WATER

  • bathe kids together
  • then use leftover bathwater to wipe down all the surfaces in the bathroom, including the floor
  • install a rain barrel
  • use water from the rain barrel or from a dehumidifier to water the garden & compost bin
  • do the dishes all at once, and use the water to clean the kitchen as well (so you are not filling the sink multiple times for a smaller load)

ELECTRIC/HEAT

  • do bulk cooking so you only run the oven once
  • when putting groceries away, stack all of the refrigerator/freezer items in front of the refrigerator, then put it all away at once.
  • after you use the oven to bake, open the door to let the heat warm up your house (we had a gate on the kitchen when the kids were small to protect them)

Creative Strategy #3: Set Limits (=use less!)

5 Creative Ways to Save on Utilities ~ Our Cozy Den

We have six people in our family. That means SIX people taking showers, brushing their teeth, using the bathroom, etc. It can add up to a lot of wasted utilities if we didn’t set limits on it. Here are a few of the limits we set:

  • Set a timer for shower time: 5 minutes for boys, 7 minutes for girls (they have long hair, which takes longer to wash & condition)
  • Get strict about lights off when they leave a room. My kids have to do push-ups if they leave a room with the light on.
  • Give kids a time limit for all electronic time. We do 5 minute increments, and they have to pay for it with stickers they earned through doing chores and schoolwork. (Read more about that here.) It definitely keeps their screen time to a minimum, especially if they are saving up for something and they’d rather cash it in for money instead!
  • Discuss it as a family, and set a maximum heat for winter months, so nobody turns the temperature higher than what you’ve agreed upon. If you have AC (we don’t), do the same in the summer — but with a minimum temperature. Our winter temp is usually 69º, and summer (when we did have AC several homes ago) was 80º.
  • Go to bed early. My kids go to bed early, at about 6:45 for pre-k and younger, 7:45 for elementary, and 8:30 for middle school. (We don’t have high schoolers yet.) My husband and I try to go to bed around 9:45-10, though sometimes our schedules and evening activities cause us to be up later. Going to bed early, especially in the winter when the sun sets early, means fewer hours that you need to be using lights, computers, TVs, etc.
  • Limit the number of electronics your family owns. We have one TV, 2 computers (a main one for me and one for the kids’ schoolwork), and 2 iPads (one for my husband for school and one for everyone else for fun). If we each had our own of all of these things {and I have several friends that do, so it’s not a crazy concept}, I can easily see how we would all be plugged in all the time.
  • Get in the habit of washing your laundry on cold, not using the dry cycle on your dishwasher (just open it to air dry), and hanging laundry outside to dry.

Creative Strategy #4: Plug the Leaks

5 Creative Ways to Save on Utilities ~ Our Cozy Den

There are probably literally a million ways that money is leaking out of your house. It’s impractical to think you can plug them all, but plugging MOST of them will make a sizable dent in your utility bills.

Here are a few ways we “plugged the leaks”:

  • We replaced our heating system. Our old one was losing almost 50% of the heat it produced, and that was money lost! It did cost a lot to replace it, but it paid for itself in the first winter, and it also increased the value of our home.
  • Plug the windows. We live in a home that is 100 years old, so we can feel the drafts coming in the edges of our windows. We combat this in the coldest winter months by laying towels and rags along the edges, and using special tape as well.
  • One word: caulk. This stuff can plug holes where heat escapes, fix leaky pipes and drains, and all kinds of places where your money is escaping your home. It only costs a few dollars at Walmart, and it will save you a TON more.
  • We replaced our refrigerator, which was not energy efficient and not sealing properly.

Creative Strategy #5: Have fun with it!

5 Creative Ways to Save on Utilities ~ Our Cozy Den

Doing things outside of your normal routine is a lot of fun! The kids — especially younger kids — love it when you do something differently and call it “special”.

Here are a few ways we have “fun” that saves us money!

  • Dinner by candlelight
  • Hide-and-go-seek in the dark
  • Read books aloud instead of watching a movie (we do a lot of reading — I read to the kids, and my husband and I read to each other instead of watching TV)
  • Play board games
  • Teach the kids to play old-fashioned favorites, like London Bridge, Ring-Around-the-Rosey, Tag, Red Rover, and others.
  • Have a contest to save energy: get a bag of marbles/rocks and every time someone in your family does something to save energy (one of the above tips, or something similar), put one in a mason jar. When the jar is full, everyone gets a treat!

Share with me!

What are your family’s favorite ways to cut your utility bills?

Creative Ways to Save on Utilities! ~ Our Cozy Den
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2 thoughts on “5 Creative Ways to Save: Utilities

  1. We just started a new tradition in our household of reading aloud one chapter from the Grimm’s fairy tales book (since the book is so long) every night before bed. It gives us a way to bond together and it’s something we can do together that doesn’t involve time in front of the tv.

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