Easy Ways to Trim Household Costs (Part 1)

As master of your castle, you pay for your home and everything in it – utilities included. So it only makes good sense – and cents! – to maximize the value out of what you already pay.  Here are just a few ways to maximize your home’s energy efficiency room by room for minimal cost:


  • Increase the number of blankets on your bed in order to maximize comfort while keeping the thermostat a bit lower. By lowering your thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees, you can lower your heating bill by 5 to 15% each year. For someone who spends $120 on average monthly, that’s a potential savings of $18/mo or $216 over the course of a year!
  • Change the direction the fan blades spin. If your bedroom features a ceiling fan, utilize the toggle switch (a standard feature on most ceiling fans). In the heat of summer, fan blades should spin counterclockwise to draw hot air up and away from the living space. In the frigid winter months, however, the blades should direct the warm air down, heating you and not the ceiling.
  • Prevent the urge to prematurely nudge the heat up by outfitting your floor with a few throw rugs and your feet with a cozy pair of slippers. Hardwood floors are beautiful to look at and easy to clean, but can make a room, especially a bedroom, feel colder than it really is.

Living room

Living Room

  • Don’t forget to close the flue. Wood burning fireplaces can set a mood and warm a room, but they can also cost a pretty penny! Don’t let your money go up the chimney. Failure to keep the flue closed when not in use will send the heat you’re paying for right up the chimney, doing you and your pocketbook no good! Just don’t forget to open it the next time you light a fire. (If you have trouble remembering whether or not the flue is closed or opened, create a visual reminder for yourself. A small knickknack on the mantel or small rock placed on the tile surround can be a quick, easier reminder that, “Heads-up! The flue is open!”)
  • Ensure proper flow of the heat you’re paying for and minimize fire hazards by making sure that furniture such as sofas and bookshelves aren’t blocking registers, radiators or baseboard heaters.
  • Keep an attractive, warm throw tossed over the couch. Keeping immediate (not to mention free) warmth within arm’s reach can keep you from reaching for the thermostat and help keep your heating bill where it needs to be – down!


  • Leave the oven door open just a crack and let the warm air escape and fill your living space. Sure, you turn the oven off when you’re through baking, but what about all that residual heat trapped inside? Don’t waste it.
  • Opt to use the microwave and the toaster oven in lieu of the oven whenever possible. They’re far more energy efficient and you’ll significantly cut your meal prep time in the kitchen.
  • Turn off the heat-dry cycle on your dishwasher and let the dishes air dry. (Often there’s enough residual heat inside the dishwasher to help heat dry the dishes.)
  • Unplug countertop appliances such as mixers and coffee makers when they’re not in use. Even if they’re not turned on, if they’re plugged in, then they’re pulling power and costing you money.  (Also, it’s much more difficult to leave such an appliance on accidentally if you’re in the habit of unplugging it anyway.)

Photo credit: welcometoalville

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit ThrivingOnEmpty.com to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

2 Responses to “Easy Ways to Trim Household Costs (Part 1)”

  1. Andrew |  Sep 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    On the fan, I thought it was suppose to push down the air on hot days to give you a breeze, and pull up the hot air in the winter to better spread the warmth in your place.

  2. 20's Finances |  Sep 29, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I think using the microwave is a great tip. It is not only a more efficient use of energy, but time as well. Who wants to wait for an oven to preheat nowadays? :)