4 Ways to Save Money on Utilities

Programmable Lux thermostat with a finger pointing to it to adjust it.

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We’re in the dog days of summer (in the U.S.) and depending on where you live, you’re either enjoying the nice weather, sweltering in the humidity or broiling in the dry heat. For many people, summer is a time for relief from the high utility costs of the winter. But for us in Arizona, this is our most expensive season.

1) Planning Ahead for Utility Savings

The time to prepare for your most expensive utility usage season is NOT usually in the middle of that season.

If your winter utility costs eat you alive, prepare in the summer with:

  • Additional attic insulation (probably your best return on investment)
  • Planting windbreaks
  • Stocking up on firewood.
  • An alternative heat source to keep you warm – things like space heaters, wood or pellet burning stoves.
  • Coverings on all windows with heavy curtains, drapes or shutters.
  • Better weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors.

If summer is your most expensive season — consider improvements like:

  • Planting shade trees in strategic locations
  • Installing shade screens or shade cloth
  • Installing extra attic insulation
  • Buying a room air conditioner
  • Adding ceiling fans.
  • Installing an evaporative cooler (only in less humid regions)

Be sure that you set aside extra money in your budget to get you through your extreme seasons.

Controlling the Temperature

2) Programmable Thermostats

Another great way to save, especially if you work outside the home and leave it vacant for several hours each day, is a programmable thermostat. You can set up a schedule to cool or heat your home at different temperatures during the hours when you’re gone and bring it back to the temperature you want just before you come home. We’ve found some great deals on eBay when searching for and buying the; Consumer Reports top-rated touchscreen LUX Programmable Thermostats (we’ve got two of them and love the way they work). We bought ours on eBay during the off-season (2 for $60).

3) Load controllers

These devices measure the total electrical usage of your house and turn off appliances based on a priority that you set. These are more expensive but can create even greater savings than a programmable thermostat. Read this Consumer Reports review of home automation system for more information.

Nest Thermostat with a cell phone app next to it.Nest Learning Thermostat

Our eldest son John is super techno-savvy and he has had a programmable / app-controlled thermostat called The Nest—it learns your habits, has lots of flexibility and has a smartphone app so it can be controlled remotely. It costs about $150 to $250 but can be “savey” too. With proper programming you can expect that it will lower your utility costs about 20 percent – so if you spend $1000 or more a year for electricity to heat and cool your home it will pay for itself in 1 year.

Daughter Abbey and Son-in-law Collin just bought a house and won a Nest thermostat. They’ve installed it and love it too! Using technology to save you money is a great thing.

4) Get Your Kids Involved

Talking to your kids about saving money is important. Show them the electric bill. Install self-closing hinges on your doors. Teach them to turn off the lights.

RELATED ARTICLE: Getting Kids to Help Save Electricity

And if you want to save even more money on your electric bill, watch this video about “Vampire Power” from the Discovery Channel.

Watch this YouTube Live Video we produced about saving on Utilities All Year Long. It’s one of our more popular videos.

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