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Cool Tips to Save Money on Utility Bills

Laura interviews Bruce Lubin, co-author of the best-selling Who Knew? series of household hints books—and a new QDT podcast by the same name. We talk about clever ways to reduce energy usage and save money. Find out how Bruce gets his entire family on board to cut their utility bills.

By
Laura Adams, MBA
4-minute read
Episode #453

Bruce: Dishwashers, but it’s really the dry cycle, which uses steam. De-select the Dry Cycle, or, if you have an older dishwasher, just open the door at the beginning of the dry cycle.

Dryers too—use a large towel to reduce drying time. Check your dryer’s screen: the lint from the screen in your dryer may not be enough to make sure it is running as efficiently as possible. The fabric softener used in dryer sheets can get caught in the mesh, even if you can’t see it. To be sure you’re completely cleaning the screen, remove it and clean it with warm, soapy water and a brush. Leave it out to dry completely before placing back in your dryer.

Q: What about saving water?

Bruce: Back to dishwashers—you should actually wash pots and pans by hand (usually)—you save up so much room and you don’t have to do Pots ‘n’ Pans mode.

With today’s high efficiency dishwashers and washing machines, the expense is really heating the water. So wash everything as cold as you can. You also may want to lower the temp you keep your hot water heater at. We recommend 120º F, which is plenty hot, even though many water heaters come set at 140º.

Other than that, low-flow showerheads and other faucets are a must! Definitely worth the price. Just ask at the hardware store.

Q: What about teenagers taking long showers? 

Bruce: Give teens an incentive to take shorter showers—5 minutes added to their curfew for every 1 minute they shave of their shower time. (Or 5 minutes more of time with their phone at the end of the night, etc.)

Q: What about tips for saving money on air conditioning?

Bruce: Keep blinds closed during the day – people probably know that! But also, close all closet doors, and seal off rooms you aren’t using. Use duct tape if your vents don’t close. And, make sure your windows and doors seal properly—that can save you big.

Q: Any other tips for saving energy?

Bruce: Believe it or not, MOST electric companies charge you more for electricity during peak times, which are usually between 4 and 8pm. Google the name of your electric company and “peak pricing” to see if yours does. If possible, keep your AC off during these times, and do more laundry and other electricity-intensive tasks during non-peak times.   

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About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.