Here’s Where You’re Wasting Money at Home

updated Jul 17, 2020
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You are probably losing money right now, without even realizing it. If you’re less than pleased with your recent home energy bill, don’t fret. There’s room for improvement and savings.

Heating accounts for the largest portion (45 percent) of our energy bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, followed by water heating (18 percent), space cooling (9 percent), computers and electronics (6 percent), lighting (6 percent), other (5 percent), cooking (4 percent), refrigeration (4 percent), and wet cleaning (3 percent).

By taking small steps like installing weatherstripping and making larger investments like replacing your HVAC unit, you can keep costs down and ensure that your home is performing like a well-oiled machine. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, over time your savings will pay for the cost of improvements and put money back in your pocket. Sounds like the investment is worth it.

Appliance and Devices

A number of appliances and devices found throughout the home are considered “energy vampires,” silently and stealthily sucking up energy. And, according to the Environmental Protection Agency these electronics (think game systems, cable boxes, phone chargers, and sleeping computers) are costing U.S. households at least $100 a year by stealing energy.

Simply unplug phone chargers and turn off appliances that aren’t in use. And, in standby mode, televisions and other devices still use several watts of power. So, be sure to plug them into power strips so they can easily be turned off.



Keeping lights on in vacant rooms throughout your house is a huge energy- and money-waster. Control your electricity output by installing motion-sensing light bulbs and light switches throughout your home. It’s the most affordable and easiest upgrade that will make a noticeable impact on your bills in the end.

And, if you haven’t made the switch to LED bulbs yet, now is the time. More energy efficient and longer lasting, the bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than incandescents or CFLs, according to electrical installation and repair company Mr. Electric.

Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling accounts for 54 percent of your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, which means that you should take preventative maintenance seriously.

By simply changing your air filters every three months, you can reduce your energy use up to 15 percent.

Smart thermostats, like the ones by Nest and GLAS, manage heating and cooling more efficiently and in turn cut energy costs. These learning thermostats automatically adjust your temperature to your liking and can be programmed to help you save, even when you’re out of town. If you’re looking for deeper discounts, you can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat down seven to 10 degrees for eight hours a day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.


When thinking about heating, also consider your water source. The water heater accounts for 18 percent of the average home’s electric bill. It’s recommended that flushing sediment from your older system will give it a quick energy boost. Lowering your water heater thermostat also can significantly cut your energy consumption and costs too. According to Mr. Electric, most manufacturers set thermostats to 140, when in reality households only require 120 degrees. Think of how much 20 degrees can save you!

Washer and Dryer

Clogged dryer vents cause machines to work harder and in turn can cost you, according to Dryer Vent Wizard, a national franchise dedicated to dryer maintenance. Having your dryer vent serviced can save you as much as $24 per month, and a good way to prevent this from happening is cleaning your lint trap after every dryer cycle. Or, opt to do things the old-fashioned way and air-dry your clothing.

The dryer company also recommends washing your clothes in cold water to save costs. When you wash a load of clothes, 90 percent of that energy is used to heat water. You can also cut costs by waiting until you have a full load of laundry, rather than washing several smaller loads.

Water Usage

There’s also room for savings with water usage. With the dishwasher, look for Energy Star brands that are created to help cut down on water and energy use. Also in lieu of running the dry cycle, air-dry dishes. Additionally, in the kitchen, garbage disposals require a large amount of water to operate. So instead of shoving food down your sink, start a compost pile.

In the bathroom, simply avoid over-flushing the toilet. Five to seven gallons of water are wasted with every flush, according to the Water Footprint Calculator. Install a low-flow toilet, which uses as little as 1.6 gallons per flush. Or, if you’re stuck with the same old commode follow the “If it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule and avoid flushing until you absolutely need to. In the shower, taking shorter and colder showers helps with cost savings. And you can purchase a low-flow showerhead to help you cause.

Air Leaks

Out of the $2,000 that Americans spend on energy each year, $200 to $400 is wasted on air leaks in the home that come from drafty windows and doors, according to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Ensure that windows and doors are sealed properly by applying rubber weatherstripping, filling in cracks with caulk, or laying a draft snake on windowsills and in front of doors.