Simple 15-Minute Projects to Slash Your Utility Bills

By now, at least 120 utility companies have voluntarily lowered electric, gas, or water rates due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which cut the corporate rate from 35% to 21%. Many continue to pass on the tax savings in the form of lower rates for many customers. But for many of us, it’s not enough!

 

So exactly how can you lower your utility bills? Check out these six projects each of which can be completed in 15-minutes or less, requiring no advanced skills or special equipment. Soon you’ll be keeping more of your hard-earned money in your pocket—not your utility providers’.

Ready? … Set … Go!

Hot water-saving showerhead

If you multi-task while waiting for your shower to warm up—making the bed or pot of coffee—the hot water could have been running for minutes, wasting water and adding unnecessary dollars to your utility bills.

The ShowerStart showerhead adapter saves hot water. ShowerStart saves hot water like this: Turn on the shower and cold water exits which you do the things you normally do while waiting for the water to get warm. Once the temp reaches 95F, ShowerStart automatically lowers the flow to a trickle—saving hot water until you’re ready to get in. When you are, you know your shower is warm, so you pull the cord to resume full flow and begin showering.

 

shower head adapter
This adapter saves $75 in hot water costs plus 2,700 gallons of water each year, based on average utility costs and a family of three showering daily and saving one minute of hot water per shower.

 

Detect power leaks

The Black & Decker TLD100 Energy Series Thermal Leak Detector is an amazing tool that uses infrared sensors to measure surface temperature to help homeowners track down power-draining drafts in areas where energy is leaking out of your home.

This detector comes with a 5-step guide to fixing basic energy leaks. Plugging leaks can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs! This super cool little device helps you decide where to seal and insulate your home. Comes with a two-year warranty.

A close up of a remote control

Socket sealers

You can cut 10% from your energy costs by properly sealing and insulating areas around the home to makes it as airtight as possible. Start with all of the light switches and electrical outlets.

Install Socket Sealer foam inserts to stop warmed or cooled air from being sucked out of the house through the air gaps around every switch and outlet. Simply remove the cover plate, pop in a gasket, and replace the plate.

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Water heater blanket

Just like insulating your walls or roof, insulating your hot water tank is an easy and inexpensive way to improve energy efficiency and save you money each month. Check to see if your tank has insulation with an R-value of at least 24.

If not, consider insulating your water tank to save up to 9% in water heating costs. You can find inexpensive pre-cut water heater blankets like this Frost King All Season Water Heater Insulation Blanket. If you don’t know your water heater tank’s R-value, touch it. A tank that is warm to the touch is heating the water but also the area in which it is located and needs additional insulation.

water heater insulation blanket

Smart power strips

Turn off all the lights then walk through your home, and you’ll probably see green and red “eyes” peering through the darkness. All of those glowing LEDs, clocks and power switches are sneaky electronic vampires. This phantom power drain costs you money, and wastes electricity.

Smart power strips like this Wifi Smart Power Strip work to reduce your power usage by automatically shutting down power to products that go into standby mode (no more crawling under desks and furniture to manually switch a power strip to OFF). Amazon Alexa and Google Home compatible.


Smart power strips will save you some serious cash. Statistics vary, but experts say standby power consumption in an average home ranges from 5% to 10% of your household energy consumption.

Programmable thermostat

A programmable thermostat lets homeowners program temperature settings for different times of the day and, with some models, different days of the week. For example, a programmable thermostat can be set to increase or decrease the temperature setting during the day when the family is at work or school.

It can also be used to automatically adjust the temperature at night when everybody is sleeping, and then to reset the temperature a few minutes before reveille.

There are many programmable thermostats available ranging in price. The Emerson Sensi Smart UP500W Programmable WiFi thermostat, pictured, is one of the best in-home temperature controls you can buy.

 

programmable thermostat for the home

In addition to 7-day programming and vacation mode, the Sensi Smart can be adjusted via the Internet. And with the latest model, it is also compatible with Amazon Alexa. So if your plans keep you away from home longer than planned, you can adjust the temperature settings from any Internet-capable computer or the Wink app on your phone.

There are less expensive models that perform very well, but without the Internet connectivity option. The Best Inexpensive basic programmable thermostat is the Lux Products TX9600TS Universal. It offers 7-day programming, touchscreen, and vacation mode.

Question: What 15-minute money-saving project have you tackled recently?

Updated 2-19-21


 

 

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13 replies
  1. Pat C says:

    Our neighbours who ran their AC 24/7 in the summer were always complaining about the cost of their electricity. It was at least three times ours because we didn’t run our AC when we weren’t home. Also, if your electricity utility uses Time of Use pricing, i.e., different prices for different hours, only run things like the dryer and the AC at off peak times. We had our AC set up to kick in at 9 pm, when the cheap rates started and turn off at 7 am when the rates went back up. Same with the de-humidifier. We would get our house quite cold over night and then it was fine all day long.

    Reply
  2. Andreas Dinkelacker says:

    In South Africa we have a chronic electricity shortage due to massive government mismanagement and corruption over a long period. The electricity utilities offer advice to reduce electricity consumption to minimise rolling blackouts. The use of a geyser (heated water tank) blanket is a very cost-effective method of reducing the heat loss in older systems – the cost is typically recovered within one year. Although we are often advised to turn off power supplies and chargers modern switching supplies are often very efficient. If a cell phone charger or power supply is cold to the touch when not actively powering or charging it has negligible power consumption. On the other hand, older TVs that are “turned off” via the remote often do use considerable standby power, and you can feel how warm they remain. I have a power monitor system that measures my total power consumption and shows it on a remote display. This allows me to switch any item off and on and to see if the total power consumption changes significantly. Very useful! Knowing what appliances use lots of power tends to make us change our habits… Key villains include ovens that are used for a long time, long boiling pots, ironing and, of course, heaters. On the other hand frying food on induction stoves is quick and uses the minimum power.

    Reply
  3. Kay Jones says:

    Our power company will take your 12 month usage and divide by 12. This is your year round monthly bill. They review it annually and recalculate it. Makes it easier to stay on budget.

    Reply
  4. Cathy Eastman says:

    These are good points. I noticed that the Sensi Smart thermostat is set at 71 for cooling. That’s pretty cold for indoor air conditioning, all right! My summer thermostat is set at 81 degrees. The Lux thermostat is set at a Nite Heat temperature of 74. I have cold intolerance, and my daytime is only set at 73. I think a better tip would be to set more reasonable temperatures in order to get savings. 🙂

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Cathy, I’m pretty sure the images are simply illustrative of what the item looks like. I wouldn’t put a lot of confidence in the digits representing the temperature!

      Reply
  5. Nancy says:

    We installed a water heater timer years ago. It is programmed to come on for three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening for washing dishes and taking showers. It saves approximately $40 a month and is well worth the initial cost of $200.

    Reply
  6. Belle Mieloch says:

    Mary shortly after moving into our home 15 years ago we found getting hot water in kitchen and master bath took forever. We had a circulater put on our hot water heater. Then put a valve in kitchen and one in master bathroom. We turn it on wait about 5 minutes instant hot water. Makes my dishwasher more efficient. Anytime we not hot water we turn it on. Saved us so much money. A plumber can do this not a big job.

    Reply
  7. Jean Nolan says:

    I live in Ohio and it is 19 degrees today. I also live in a house built in 1901. I would love to know which power companies in my state give us some of their tax savings! That is the first I have heard of such generosity.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  8. Janet says:

    This is an interesting article, thank you for bringing it to our attention.
    Is there a link to a list of the 120 utility companies that have lowered their rates due to the tax cuts?

    Reply
  9. Tim says:

    Thanks for the needed utility cost-saving tips. Our utility company is not among the 120.

    Sadly in fact, ours increased rates 8%!

    Reply

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