Three Frugal Habits to Save on Energy All Year

We all know this is the time of the year, especially for us Northerners, Easterners and Mid-Westerners, when the weather can be all over the place, similar to the stock market.  We literally had record-setting freezing temperatures, where if you were outside for minutes, frostbite would occur.  Only to have 60+ degree weather and be able to be outside with shorts and a t-shirt.  The topic of energy preservation, frugality and saving money really hit home from this, as well has assisting a few families on how they can save, each and every month.  Therefore, it’s time to list out THREE EASY habits to introduce, if not already, that will reduce energy and money, each and every month!

Three Frugal Habits to Save Energy & Money

1.) Frugal Habit #1 – Unplug Not-In Use Items – I know this is weird/crazy/funny, but before my wife and I head to bed, we go through the house, literally without even realizing, and unplug any unused item/appliance.  What are the main culprits?  Your typical culprits are chargers for the phones/kindle, random lights plugged in, coffee pot, toaster oven and laptop chargers.  We are lucky, as well, where one plug controls a few entertainment devices, such as the television, apple TV, an antenna, etc..  We don’t unplug everything, of course, but even unplugging these easy items can not only pro-long the use of the appliance and/or charger, but also reduces energy waste and the price of your bill.  Is it a hassle to plug them back in, when in use?  No, no it’s not.  It’s something that just seems to make sense to me, why have it plugged in, when it’s not in use?  Would you keep your car running in the driveway the entire day or leave your hair dyer/curling iron or a shop vac plugged in the corner, for the one time you’ll use it in the week/month?  I couldn’t tell you exactly how much I save doing this, as it’s been a habit of mine for well over 10 years, but I know it’s worked out very well for me!  Here is an article that suggests these items can consume as much as 10% of your energy, when remaining plugged in.

2.) Frugal Habit #2 – Thermostat monitoring in the Winter – Again, this isn’t difficult to do, but having your thermostat on and set to a reasonable temperature during the winter is the smart action to take.  I am not talking 45 degrees, just to make sure pipes don’t freeze, but I am also not talking about making it hotter inside than it is outside when it is the summer, just so you can wear shorts inside when it’s snowing.  Once you find that reasonable temperature while you are at home, then that’s where it’s set to be for those few hours.  However, my other suggestion is to drop it 10% when you are asleep.  Why?  You produce SO much warmth when you are in bed/under covers, it’s amazing!  Secondly, there is less dry heat that is blowing into your room/your face, which can reduce sickness, difficulty sleeping, irritation in the nose/throat, etc..  Third, your energy bill will be happy, as well as doing something more positive for the environment when using less energy.  Similarly, that temperature should only change twice during the day – when going to bed and when coming home from work.  Therefore, I am not suggesting to crank it up 5 degrees for 2 hours, change it again for 2 hours and change it again for another 2 hours, etc..  I do believe in, and strongly encourage, having a system down where it doesn’t change frequently!  I have performed this for 8 years/winters/summers and so far, so good.  Only issue I’ve had with my furnace is when the sensor needed cleaned/scrubbed off, due to some crud that had built up over the years.

3.) Frugal Habit #3 – Choose your Energy Supplier – I monitor this 2-4x per year.  You may not know this, but you have the right, the power and the control to choose your energy supplier for electricity and natural gas!  De-regulation occurred some time ago and your neighborhood utility company now becomes your service provider, but we now have the option to choose an available supplier of the actual product (i.e. Natural Gas/Electricity).  For my fellow Ohioans, I go to this site, Energy Choice.  It’s a great website that allows you to actually filter down to the plan you are looking for, such as $4-$5 per MCF, with a fixed rate and no early termination fee.  After you click filter results, you will now see if there are any suppliers that fit your preferred criteria!  Then, it’s really a matter of providing your account details and allowing up to one full billing cycle for the switch to occur.  I usually use calendar reminders to review prices throughout the year.  Imagine if you could simply do this with your insurance, internet provider, etc..  Things would be SO much easier to monitor and adjust your monthly expenses from a few clicks of a mouse.  Below is my screen shot from January to February.  You can see off to the right, we used more energy this bill, than last bill.  However, last bill was $67.75 and this bill was $68.16, or a $0.41 increase, though I used much more energy?  Answer, I switched to a new energy company to supply my natural gas, at a far lower price.

frugal ways to save energy conclusion

I know this sometimes can be a bit much, from a frugality standpoint, but this is a personal approach I choose.  This has helped me save so much money over the years, money that is better spent on experiences, investing, travel, emergencies, you name it!  Why not take control of your financial situation and point your cash flow to better things?  You can use that extra cash to pay down debt or fund your investment account.  I urge everyone to take a moment and think about it!  Why?  Every dollar counts in this game and path to financial freedom.   I am also a frugal person at heart and these habits above simply make sense, paying and using the right amount of energy all year round.

Any other tips for the community on how to save money on energy use?  Would love to hear more suggestions and thoughts to the topic!  Do you already have these procedures in place?  Did you learn anything from this article?  We would love the comments and feedback!  Thank you again for stopping by and talk soon.  P.S. – go unplug those appliances now!

-Lanny

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15 thoughts on “Three Frugal Habits to Save on Energy All Year

  1. Excellent post Lanny! I unplug everything that is not being used and since my apartment gets great sunlight I keep the lights turned off for most of the day too. My supplier is Con Edison (ED) and for most of the year my electric bills stay around $30 per month (except during the summer when the AC is on). The best thing is, because I own ED, they end up paying me dividends they cover my electric bills, lol. It is like I am only paying for 9 months of a years worth of electrical usage. Sounds good to me! 🙂

    • MDD –

      That is the best way to look at it – own the Utility that you pay and hopefully you own enough, that it pays your bills : ) I Guess you can say I am in a similar boat as FE! They cover about half of the electricity in a given year. My wife owns ED, so I guess they chip in, too : )

      -Lanny

  2. Great articles. I just wanted to add a few tips of my own, since I saved $100 on my previous electricity bill.

    Isolate your home. Make sure there are no leaks in door and window frames. If the cold air doesn’t come in then you need less energy to keep the place warm.

    Reduce hot water consumption whenever possible. Wash dishes in warm water and wash clothes in cold water. When you shower, you can actually turn off the water while lathering up.

    Take care!

  3. Fantastic post, Lanny! 3 excellent tips with solid rationale. Once the big three expenses are locked down, it’s all about locking down the other expenses to make every dollar count.

    • Kody –

      You got it, once you do have that house, insurance and car (assuming that’s your big 3?) locked down, it’s all about the further drill down. Keep the grind on! It becomes VERY easy/second nature to do these things.

      -Lanny

  4. Lanny,
    Good article with good comments above. Its kind of my field of work too. I could add a couple of things:
    1 – LED Lights (they can be annoying to your eyes, but they save a lot of watts).
    2 – keeping blinds shut and or curtains drawn (esp. at night) it creates an extra thermal layer around where you lose the most heat (windows).

    There are so many other things people can do. None are a magic bullet, but that is kind of the way it works – lots of small changes adding up to one big collective change. $ave that money!

    – Gremlin

  5. Excellent tips! We have floor heating in our floor and the pump is on 24/7. We have now put in a temperature based repairs system. So when the thermostat provides water hotter then let’s say 38° it will turn on the floor pump and automatically shut it off when it nog longer receives hot water.

    This alone saves my family almost €100 per year!

  6. Thanks for the tips. It’s definitely the time of the year where they help most. You might also want to consider renewable sources such as solar depending on where you live. They can save good money for long-term planners.

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