10 Ways to Save at Home

You may not be able to control inflation but you can cut rising costs under your very own roof. REAL SIMPLE. REAL LIFE. financial expert Farnoosh Torabi shows you how.

Photo by Jordan Provost

1. Lower the thermostat by 10 to 15 percent for eight hours a day (say, 68 degrees when you’re home and 60 degrees when you go out) to save up to 10 percent a year. (Prone to forgetfulness? Invest in a programmable thermostat and it’ll do the work for you.)

2. Turn down the temperature on your water heater to 130 degrees. (The standard temp is 140.) You’ll save 3 to 5 percent per year. To make the adjustment, first turn off the power on the tank, then access the thermostat―located behind a metal plate―and use a screwdriver to turn the dial to 130. Note: many hot water heaters contain two thermostats (one at the top and one at the bottom of the tank) so make sure to adjust both.

3. Wash your laundry in only cold water. (Special cold water detergents are now available.) Up to 90 percent of energy spent on washing goes towards heating the water. Save even more by letting your clothes air dry.

4. Don’t block heating and air-conditioning vents. Place your furniture and other household items away from vents to keep the air circulating freely throughout the room―not toasting the back of your sofa.

5. Switch to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Energy Star qualified bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than regular incandescent bulbs and they last up to 10 times longer. Translation: A savings of $30 to $50 over the lifetime of each bulb.

6. Unplug appliances and electronics when they’re not in use―especially when you’re going out of town. Items like chargers, TVs, computers, electric coffee pots, and DVD players can gobble up electricity even when they’re off. Eliminating this so-called “vampire energy” can save up to 15 percent on your yearly electric bill.

7. Keep the cold air out. Seal up any and all leaks around windows, doors, and pipes. Poor caulking or insulation can cause as much as 40 percent of a home’s heating and cooling dollars to leak out.

8. Install double-pane windows. According to the Edison Electric Institute, heat leaks through a single glass pane about 14 times faster than it does through a well-insulated wall.

9. Don’t overcharge your cell phone. Either a light on the charger or an icon on your phone will confirm when it’s fully charged―but many of us keep it plugged into the outlet anyway, where it continues to draw energy.

10. Invest in Energy Star appliances. The next time you need a new refrigerator or air-conditioner, look for the Energy Star label. Products with that qualification use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models.