NC State Extension Publications


When money is tight, look for ways to reduce household expenditures. There are a number of simple no cost/low cost things you and your family can do to help save money on your utility bill.

Replace Light Bulbs

Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CVL). Although they are more expensive initially, CFLs use less energy and last longer than standard bulbs and save you money over the life of the bulb.

Eliminate Unnecessary and Phantom or Vampire Energy Use

Phantom or vampire power is the energy that some appliances and equipment use even when they are turned off. These appliances include items such as televisions, cell phone chargers, and stereos. To stop your appliances from using phantom power, either unplug them at the wall or plug them into a power strip and then turn the power strip off when the appliances are not needed. Remember also to turn off lights and appliances that aren’t needed.

Adjust Your Hot Water Heater

Keep your hot water heater at 120 degrees. Insulate your electric water heater storage tank. If you have a gas tank, seek professional assistance for proper installation. Install low-flow showerheads and aerators, and fix leaks as soon as possible.

Save While Doing Laundry

To save while doing laundry, wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. Make certain you only run the washer and dryer when they’re full and that you don’t over-dry clothing. Whenever possible, dry two or more loads in a row, cleaning the dryer filter out between loads. If the weather is warm you may want to dry clothes outside on a clothes line.

Save While Doing Dishes

When using a dishwasher, wash only full loads. Use an energy-saving cycle whenever possible, and select the no-heat dry cycle. Also, avoid using the pre-rinse option.

Check with Your Utility Company

Contact your utility company to see if it offers “time-of-use” rates that can save money on your energy bill. Time-of-use programs encourage people to reduce electricity use during peak hours. This may work for you if you can adjust your schedule and energy usage to off-peak hours. Also, check to see if your local electric utility offers special rate discounts for all-electric homes.

Publication date: March 1, 2009

There is an alternate Spanish language version of this document here: Ahorre dinero haciendo cambios a baja costo o sin costo alguno en el uso de energía

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