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There’s a reason our parents barked at us to close the door, turn off the lights, and stop touching the thermostat. Nearly everything we do requires energy! Some of our biggest financial obligations as grownups are transportation costs and household utility bills.

Driving a car requires gasoline. Running the air conditioner, the lights, and most of the appliances in our homes requires electricity. Running the furnace, water heater, and the stove requires natural gas. Unless we’ve chosen to get around only on a bicycle and live by candlelight in a yurt, there’s just no way to completely escape the utility costs that come with everyday life. But we can reduce them! Get ready to celebrate Lower Your Utility Costs Day on Jan. 10 by taking on one or more of these tips as a regular habit.

10 Ways to Lower Your Energy Costs

  1. Reduce “phantom energy.” Unplug electronics and appliances when they aren’t being used. According to, 75% of the energy consumption by consumer electronics in the average household is by products that are turned off.

  2. Fill the fridge. Not only does this save on trips to the store, but it also helps with cooling. Items stored in the refrigerator and freezer serve as insulation, keeping the cooling system from working too hard to maintain temperature.

  3. Lower the water heater temp. Keep the water heater set to 140°F or below. The recommended temperature to prevent scalding is 120°F.

  4. Use off-peak electrical rates. If your electricity provider offers reduced rates during certain hours of the day, do things like running the dishwasher and laundry appliances only during those hours.

  5. Use cold water for laundry. Washing in cold water significantly reduces your energy use by your water heater. Modern laundry detergents are optimized to perform in all water temperatures.

  6. Empty the dryer lint trap. Make it a habit to clean the lint trap after every load or before every load. Also, clean the filter with a gentle soap and water every so often. Lint buildup reduces a dryer’s efficiency (and creates a fire hazard).

  7. Microwave. Did you know that cooking in the microwave can save up to 80% of the energy that would be used by cooking in the oven? Save all that heat by cooking smaller portions in the microwave.

  8. Do less ironing. Ironing your clothes every day with an average 1200-watt iron could add about $1.00 per month to your electric bill! Be sure to tell mom that you’re saving money by not owning an iron.

  9. Go low flow. A low-flow shower head cuts down your water usage in the shower by at least half. Of course, shorter showers also save water and cooler showers save water heater costs.

  10. Use the dishwasher. Fill the dishwasher to capacity, turn off the drying cycle, and run the machine overnight. Contrary to popular opinion, this saves energy when compared to hand-washing dishes while the hot water is running.

These tips all sound very do-able, don’t they? Every little bit adds up when it comes to reducing energy costs!