Ways to save on electrical costs

By Stew

When we were kids, my dad used to threaten to charge us a nickel or a dime if a light was left on in a room and if he could figure out who was the last one in that particular area. I’m not sure that he actually ever collected too many of the fines, but it proved to be a useful tool in reminding us of the importance of saving electricity.

Most of us pay combined electrical and gas bills each month. Do you ever take a minute to look at the breakdown? Typically the our electric charges are greater than the amount that we are billed for natural gas. If you are like us, there is far more room for savings on the electrical side than the gas side.

Turn off those lights

I have developed a sixth sense about too many lights being on in the house (probably due to my father’s fines). Always be on the lookout for unnecessary lights and turn them off right away. Open shades and drapes in order to use natural light as much as possible. CFL bulbs are also a good way to save electricity, especially in light fixtures that are on for an extended period of time. I also prefer to avoid using nightlights, however, the rest of my family does not share my love of darkness, so we have a couple of nightlights around the house. Experiment, sometimes the light of a streetlight coming in the window can take the place of a nightlight and help you save money.

“Waiting” electrical appliances

Look around your house for appliances that are plugged in for long periods of time without being used. Are they in “standby” mode? Are they lit up at all? If so, then they are drawing electricity. Small amounts to be sure, but over a long period of time even the energy used by a blinking light on the DVD player can add up to a good amount of money similar to a dripping water faucet. Printers, coffee makers, espresso machines, battery chargers – look around, you will find appliances that can be turned off between uses. If you have a television/DVD/stereo in close proximity, plug them all in to the same power strip and you can turn them all off with one click between uses. There is no reason to keep that electric meter turning if no one is watching the television or listening to the stereo.

I have also found that there might be more fans running around the house than you immediately notice. Keep the bathroom fans off as much as possible, do not run ceiling fans unnecessarily. Box fans and oscillating fans are only useful if people are in the room to experience the “wind chill” effect. There is no reason to run a fan in an empty room.


It is important to use as little energy as possible when you are out of the house. If our family is going to be gone for a few days or a week, I try to see how little energy we can use while out of the house. For starters, I turn off the garage door opener, turn down the hot water heater, unplug any kind of “charger”, turn off all lights, unless needed for security reasons, and turnĀ  the refrigerator down a notch. If the door is never opened, the food (if we leave any) will stay cool at a lower setting. Is is possible to let that laundry air dry rather than use the dryer? Our computer and printer are turned off completely and the strength of the sun in Denver, allows us to turn the heat completely off, even in the coldest part of winter. When we lived up North, we had to keep the furnace running at least a little in order to prevent pipes from freezing.

How do you save money on electricity?

Article by Stew

Photo by Reinis Traidis

9 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Ways to save on electrical costs”

  1. snow_drops Says:

    There is another article coming out today from lifehacker that claims that “If your printer is connected to a power strip, turning off the power strip can actually cause a greater power usage in the log run, plus a waste of ink.”

    Another interesting point of view…

  2. Stew Says:

    I believe it, unless you’re like us and only use the printer once a week.

  3. Todd P. Campanella Says:

    I live in Central NJ and Constellation Energy is PSEG’s competitor. I signed up for 30 months…24 months fixed. I will save 12% and get a $150 Taget gift card! $550 saving per year! Yippie!!!

  4. Brad Castro Says:

    I enjoyed the part about the threats of nickle and dime fines.

    I know I’m no longer young when I hear myself telling my four year old when he leaves a door open – “There goes money walking right out the door.”

  5. Franklin in Cool Springs TN Says:

    I wonder what the electric bill at Dave Ramsey’s house is?

    His mansion is over 13,000 square feet and worth around $9-10 Million.

  6. Stew Says:

    Franklin, if your statement is accurate, Mr. Ramsey is employing a lot of people right now – and that is a good thing.

  7. Randy Says:

    Years ago, I found that we would dry a load of clothes, then let them sit in the dryer. Later, we would run the dryer again, to “fluff” the clothes. Stopping this practices saved a lot of electricity.

    I also heard that dirty air filters caused the heat/ac to run extra. I buy the cheap filters, about 50cents a piece. Two filters in the house, it doesn’t take much to save $1 in electricity.

    I was on an equal payment plan, my bill was the same each month for a year. After taking these actions and watching my usage, I dropped my bill over $30/month. (and this was 15 years ago).

  8. Franklin Says:


    Dave Ramsey’s average monthly electric bill for the last 12 months was $1,285 per month.


  9. Oscar James Says:


    Too funny about your “developed sixth sense” because of your dad. I think I may be developing it in my daughters now (or at least I hope). Any time we pull up to the house at night and one of the lights has been left on, I find a lot of joying in joking them.

    Too bad when it back fires and I leave the lights on… errr.