Ways to Reduce Your Household Expenses

The cost of utilities is going up everywhere, and there's no relief in sight. The very best way to lower your household bills is to lower your usage.

Here are some tips for doing just that (and more):


  • Comparison shop among the electricity providers in your area. Make sure you're getting the lowest rate available.
  • If you're not in the room, why keep the lights on? Turn them off! And swap your light bulbs from incandescent to low-energy fluorescent, which last longer.
  • Unplug appliances when you're not using them.
  • Run major appliances (such as your dishwasher) during off-peak hours, when electricity rates are lower.
  • Switch to gas appliances, such as a gas water heater or gas stove. In general, gas costs less than electric.
  • Throw out your electric alarm clock. Use a wind up, or set the alarm on your cell phone.
  • Dry your laundry on a drying rack or clothes line.
  • Turn off the air conditioner. Turn on a fan if you're hot.


  • Invest in a programmable thermostat. Can't afford it? Then turn your thermostat down at least 10 degrees every time you leave the house and before you go to bed.
  • Seal your windows (and doors!) with weatherproofing strip or replace them with double pane, which provides more insulation.
  • Keep the vents clear. Hot air can't circulate if you've got furniture or carpets blocking the vents.
  • Keep the doors closed between rooms to keep the heat in.
  • Open the drapes or shades during the day to let the sunshine warm your space and close them at night to help retain the heat.
  • Insulate your attic or other areas of your dwelling to help keep the temperature comfortable.

Water and Sewer

  • Cut down on your water usage… limit the length of your showers, turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth. Whenever you can, don't waste water.
  • Run your washing machine and dishwasher only when you have enough for a full load. (And unless your dishwasher is super old, there's no need to rinse your dishes before you load it.)
  • Take showers, not baths, and switch to a low-flow showerhead.
  • Stop leaks. They can drain your wallet pretty quickly.
  • If you have to water your lawn, water at night to minimize any evaporation.
  • Clean your sidewalks using a broom, not a hose.
  • Try harvesting your rainwater by putting a catchment near your downspout. Use this water for your garden and lawn.

Cable TV

  • Try dropping your cable and watching TV shows online for free (or minimal cost). Many shows are posted on network websites or video-streaming websites a day or two after they air.
  • Not sure you can go without? Identify your viewing habits and get the package that best fits your cable needs. No matter how good the offer, don't pay for premium channels or other services if you're not using them.
  • Bundle your cable TV with other services, like your phone and internet. When you get all of your services from one provider, the provider can extend better discounts.
  • Keep an eye out for special deals. Cable companies have all sorts of promotions throughout the year. You should never need to pay full price.
  • Negotiate; cable companies are very competitive, and most will offer a better rate to get or keep your business.


  • Comparison shopping can often score you a great deal on most household expenses, including the internet. The market is competitive, and affordable rates are out there if you look for them.
  • Get your internet, phone, and cable services all from the same provider. Bundling services is a cost-effective way to reduce multiple bills.
  • If you can get away with a slower download speed, switch. The savings will total more than $100 a year.
  • Don't even bother to pay for the internet if you use it only once or twice a month. Most libraries have free computers available, and a library card costs you nothing!


  • Go mobile and drop your land line. It's an unnecessary expense.
  • Take time to figure out your usage—How many minutes do you need? Do you require roaming for frequent out-of-area calls? What time of day do use your phone the most?—and find a plan that fits.
  • Switch your carrier. It goes without saying that you should check out different plans and packages to make sure you're getting the lowest rate.
  • Look for discounts. Many carriers offer family plans, employee discounts, student packages, and more.
  • Consider a prepaid plan. Because there's no monthly bill, there are no surprises.
  • Stay away from unnecessary bells and whistles. Do you really need to spend $1.99 on a ringtone? These small expenses can add up fast.
  • Bundle your phone service with your cable TV and internet service for the best discounts.

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