If you ask most people what their most expensive bill is, they will tell you it is their electric bill. With electric rates that fluctuate from month to month, it can be hard to really figure out how to save money on your electric bill with any certainty. If your electric bill is too high, it may take some hard work – and some extreme frugality (Six Dollar Family) – to bring it down to a more manageable level. It is work, but it does work. So much so that my own power bill is only around $130.00 per month.
When I first began looking for ways to save money on my electric bill, my monthly bill was running a minimum of $400.00 a month. I had always looked at it as being a sort of necessary evil. I live in Texas after all.
Summers are stupidly hot which requires air conditioning to be run 24/7. Winters are mild compared to other parts of the country, but cold for us. It seemed as if the high power bills were simply a result of those things.
I was wrong.
How to Save money on Your Electric Bill with Extreme Frugality
Once I started really working on ways to lower my electric bill, I found that the normal tips we all hear everywhere really didn’t budge it too much. Granted, any savings is a good thing, but I wasn’t looking to save $5 a month. I wanted to save bigger bucks than that.
It took taking my frugality to a new extreme to see the kinds of savings I was really looking for. After I started doing the things in this post, my bill dropped from that $400.00 a month average to less than $150.00 a month most months. Yes, even in those scorching Texas summers.
Extreme Frugality for Your Electric Bill
For some, these extreme frugal living tips will be more work than they want to do just to lower one bill. That’s okay. For others, they will be just right. Only you can determine what you’re willing to do and what you aren’t. Pick and choose what will work best for your own family.
Be more self sufficient
I recently wrote how being self sufficient is the only way to be truly frugal and that is very true when it comes to knowing how to save money on your electric bill. It may not be clear though how being self reliant can save you money on your electric bill so allow me to explain.
When you take the self reliant approach, you’ll do more for yourself and rely less on things that do it for you. No, I’m not telling you to never use your mixer or your food processor.
I’m telling you to use those types of things less and to do more for yourself. Your electric bill will notice.
Set Your Home Up to Save You Money
A few months ago, I was deep in find ways to save mode for our electric bill. I had also just ordered an Echo Dot from Amazon. Little did I know, that Echo Dot would help me cut my electric bill pretty significantly.
When I set my home up with smart light bulbs, smart outlets and a smart thermostat – all easily managed with the Echo Dot – my electric bill reacted in a very good way. By the end of the set up, I had even installed smart ceiling fan controls.
Things like leaving lights and ceiling fans run when no one is in the room are one of the biggest drains on your electric bill. Having your home set up as a smart home gives you the ability to manage things easily even if you’re not at home. Most of your smart home additions with an Echo or Google Home can be managed with the simple touch of an app.
Replace what is inefficient
Of everything in your home that is driving your electric costs up, your appliances are the biggest culprits. Your dryer is the worst offender followed by your washer and refrigerator. Most of us consider those appliances necessities which means getting rid of them is not an option.
Replacing them with something more efficient however, is an option. If it has been a few years, consider replacing your washer, dryer and refrigerator with newer more energy efficient appliances. When you buy your new appliances, you don’t necessarily need to buy them new, but if you buy used make sure they are energy star certified to save the most money.
Once you have those replaced, take a look at your furnace and central air unit if you have one. An older unit may be using more power than it needs in order to cool or heat your home. While you’re at it, be sure to replace any furnace filters or air intake filters if they’re clogged and dirty.
Live with extreme frugality
As I said earlier, these tips for extreme frugality will help you learn how to save money on your electric bill, but they are pretty extreme. Again, choose the ones that will work for your family and skip the rest. But…if you are struggling to make ends meet, I would highly suggest you at least consider a few of them. At least until you’re in a better financial situation.
Stop using your washer
I know. You still need clean clothes. Please wear clean clothes. You don’t have to use a big washer though to do that. Instead, opt for something such as a Wonder Wash for clothing items that don’t need to be washed in the big machine.
With a Wonder Wash, you fill it halfway with water and soap then use good old fashioned elbow grease to turn the barrel and wash your clothing. Empty the barrel and repeat with clean water to rinse your clothes. Items such as underwear, bras, socks, lightweight shirts, pillow cases and even sheets can be washed this way. When you do your laundry this way, you avoid running the more expensive machine as often as you currently do.
Stop using your dryer
You knew this one was coming, right? In the warmer months of the year, there is no real reason to use your clothes dryer. Not only does your dryer use the most energy of all appliances in your home, but it also heats your home up costing you even more money.
Instead, take a look at the benefits of using a clothesline. Even if your yard is too small or you live in an apartment, you could use a portable clothes drying rack to dry them.
Even line drying a few loads a week on a clothesline can save you a pretty decent amount of money.
Stop using your furnace
What is it with me and these “stop using” tips? Well frankly, they save money and if that is your end game, they are worth considering.
If you live in a climate where the winters are mild – such as Texas or another southern state – you can get by without using your furnace in the winter.
Instead, use more energy efficient tower heaters, an electric fireplace or a kerosene heater to heat your home most of the time. Overnight, use extra blankets and thermal pajamas to help keep your family warm.
We did this just this past winter as a test. We used 3 electric heaters and each person had 2-3 blankets on their beds at night depending on their preference. We would move the heater from my room to the living room/kitchen area each morning and move it back to my bedroom and bathroom each night.
My home stayed a solid 68° F which is exactly where we keep it with the furnace and a/c.
My electric bill plummeted and we were still warm.
Use box fans in the summer
Your window a/c unit or central air is just as expensive to run as the furnace. An easy way to cut that cost and lower your electric costs is to use open windows and box fans. Here in Texas, people tend to turn their a/c on as soon as the sun starts to shine above 80.
Not at my house.
In fact, I don’t turn the a/c on until it is above 90 outside. Why? Because I can open my windows and add a couple of fans and keep my home just as cool. Put a square box fan in a window on one side of the house facing inwards. Do the same on the other side of the room facing outwards.
You’ll create an air current that will cool your home down quickly. I’ve used this method for almost 2 decades and in that time have not only cooled my current home, but also trailers I lived in 15 years ago.
It works. And it’s a whole lot cheaper.
Make a swamp cooler
Have you ever heard of a swamp cooler? They have been used for years to help keep a room or person cool when it’s super hot out. These days, they’re looked at as more of a mark of extreme frugality than they are the norm.
They work amazingly and are incredibly easy to make.
You’ll need a cooler, ice and a fan. That’s it. Fill the cooler with the ice and set the fan behind it. Turn the fan on to blow air over the ice and Bob’s your uncle.
This can also be a great alternative to using your air conditioner.
Use your stove less
Your stove not only uses electricity itself, but it will heat up your home making your a/c or fans have to work harder to cool it back down.
Cooking outside on your grill more often or using a Crockpot or electric pressure cooker uses far less energy and won’t heat your home the same as your stove.
Use Oil Lamps instead of your lights
Now I will fully admit; just like family cloth to save money in the bathroom, this one is a bit beyond where I am willing to go to save money.
With that said though, I have seen people have electric bills as low as $25 a month and it’s all attributed to one thing. Extreme frugality.
It makes sense. Lamp oil is fairly inexpensive – usually less than $30.00 per gallon. A gallon will last quite a while even when used daily. Your lights, however, cost quite a bit per hour to run.
Open a savings account
It may not seem extreme, but have you ever considered opening a savings account just to keep money back for your utilities?
Having a separate electric bill only savings account can help you build up not only enough for your current bill, but also future bills. If you set a goal to put away a specific amount out of each paycheck, you’ll eventually have more built up than you need.
For those that want ease, Qaptial is a great way to get started. Qapital is a new banking app that helps you bank around your goals instead of setting goals around your banking. All banking with them is done via their mobile app or Qapital Visa debit card. They offer quite a few different tools to help you grow your money. Because of this they charge a “membership” fee, but honestly, it’s more like the regular bank fees you’re already used to paying. In fact, my Qapital fee is half what my regular bank charges me.
Check out Qapital here. You can also sign up for their free 30 day trial here as well. Yes. They are FDIC insured to $250,000 like any other bank.
For those that want a more traditional account, I can’t recommend opening a CIT Bank savings account higher. Their savings account offers a great interest rate to help your money grow even more. If you want to take your utility savings even higher, you could open an CIT Money Market account.
Money Market accounts typically have interest rates that are higher than regular savings accounts which means your money will grow quicker. Just keep in mind that money market accounts are not really meant to be withdrawn from often.