Little money-saving habits don't ever feel like they're doing much in the moment, but in the long run they can add up to significant savings. And, no, we're not talking about the same well-worn advice to brew your own coffee or bring your lunch to work. These are at-home habits, most of which involve a minor change in your routine and might only take a few seconds each.
Small habits that cost us money—or save us money, as the case may be—add up to pennies earned that compound day after day, month after month, year after to year into significant dollars.
Here are some money-saving habits to put into practice around the house. If you're not doing these yet, you should be:
How to Save on Air Conditioning Costs
- Turn off the lights when you leave the room.
- Use ceiling fans to help cool rooms.
- Set the thermostat a few degrees higher to shave money off your bill.
- Close blinds and curtains to keep the sun out of rooms during the day to help keep temperatures inside cool.
- Don't leave outside doors open when the A/C is running.
- Try to put off heat-generating activities to the evening hours, when outdoor temperatures are cooler. This includes cooking on the stove (make salads or use the grill outside when it's hot out), running the dryer, etc.
- Properly maintain your HVAC unit so it runs efficiently.
- Change filters according to the season, usage, and the manufacturer's recommended timetable.
- Switch to CFL bulbs, which generate significantly less heat.
- Get a programmable thermostat (or better yet, a smart one) if you don't have one and set it to be a few degrees warmer when you're not home.
How to Save on Electricity
- Turn off lights when you leave the room.
- Keep cooled or heated air in the house by remembering to close doors and seal gaps (such as with a door snake).
- Dress for the weather. Especially when it's cold, put on a sweater or use a blanket before you crank up the heat.
- Choose energy efficient appliances when you're buying new ones.
- Choose the cold water wash on your laundry whenever possible.
- Air dry clothes whenever you can.
- Unplug "energy vampires," items that are plugged in even when you're not using them. These include phone chargers, computers, and countertop appliances like the coffee maker or stand mixer.
- Check your utility company for special rates. For example, some companies offer discounts for energy consumption that occurs during "off-peak" hours.
- If you like to run your refrigerator cool, consider adjusting your fridge and freezer temperatures up to 40 and 0 degrees respectively, the top temperatures recommended by the FDA.
- Never forget to clean the lint trap in the dryer so that it can run most efficiently.
- Try the air-dry rather than the heat-dry setting on your dishwasher.
- Use a toaster oven rather than your full-size oven whenever possible.
- Stop opening your oven to check on your cooking food; turn on the oven light and peek through the window instead.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees (it's safer, too). (This applies to electric water heaters, but for gas water heaters, lowering the temperature will also save money.)
- Never run the dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer unless they're at capacity.
How to Save Money on Your Water Bill
- Fix leaky faucets. And toilets. (Try the food coloring trick!)
- Stop pre-rinsing your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher.
- Take shorter showers. Try a shower timer.
- Replace your shower heads with low flow ones.
- Turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth, washing dishes, or soaping up in the shower.
- Use water from washing produce or boiling pasta to water plants. You could also collect water while you shower to water plants with.
- Collect rain water for watering plants. (Your plants will love it!)
- Look for special rates with your water provider. Like with electricity, some off-peak times of the day have lower usage rates. Check to see if your utility company offers a water discount during these times and run your appliances and take showers within these parameters, when possible.