Rule #3 for Cheap Living

Look around your house.  How many electric gadgets do you have? 

Television, DVD, game machines? What about a microwave or hot water heater?

How many clocks do you have plugged in right now?

Here’s the big question:  How much of that crap are you actually using right now?

How much was your electric bill last month? Do you enjoy paying that much?  You don’t have to.

Some of the biggest wasters of electrical energy are the devices that we turn off.  Companies design them to use energy constantly—to keep the time or even without excuse.  They are energy vampires, sucking down our money like monsters from a bad movie!

Personally, I think they are in league with the electric producers. If their devices suck energy constantly, it raises our bill.  The higher our bill, the more money we have to pay, and the more those big-suited bozos get to play with!

You can stop them from forcing you to pay for stuff you are not using by simply unplugging the devices when you are finished with them.  Power strips are great for this because you can shut off the power to multiple devices without manually unplugging each and every one. Go through your house and make sure that everything is unplugged that is not actually in use—who would you rather have your money, you or some fat cat?

Use the device with the lowest power consumption whenever you need to do something.  A portable radio will use less electricity than a component stereo system and a small television will suck down less juice than that big screened monster.

Use multi-purpose devices. Do you need 20 clocks when everyone in the house has a cell phone?  Unplug all of those things and use the cell phones to keep track of the time (which you are already using anyway).

If you are not using it unplug the thing. You can’t watch television and listen to the radio at the same time, to turn one or the other off instead of wasting that energy.

Get rid of those little plug-in air fresheners.  Why waste electric when you can place a few coffee grounds out and eliminate bad smells that way? You can also take cotton balls dampened with essential oils and place them strategically to deodorize your home as well.

Unplug that coffee pot.  Keep your coffee warm in a thermos instead of wasting electricity.

The Water Heater

A water heater’s job is to keep water hot until you need it.  The hotter you set it, the more energy it will use to keep that water heated.  Turn that sucker down to the lowest temperature you absolutely need.  If you do need hotter water on occasion boil some on the stove. 

When you get some extra money, insulate around the water heater to help it keep in the warmth better. 

Put it on vacation mode if you don’t plan to use much water over several days, or flip the breaker off entirely. Why have it using electric to heat water that you don’t plan to use?

Remember:  The less hot water you use, the less you have to pay to heat more up.  This means don’t take super long hot showers, or leave the water running to rinse your dishes.  Wash clothes in cold water instead of warm or hot.

The Refrigerator

When your current fridge goes kaput, buy the smallest one you can get away with.  The smaller and more energy efficient, the less electricity that puppy will suck down. 

Keep your freezer full for best results. If you don’t have much in it place bottles of water in there to freeze and hold the cold.  This will also help in case of a power outage.

If you don’t store much in a refrigerator consider investing in a deep freeze and a cooler instead.  You could freeze jugs of water in the freezer to keep things cold in the cooler.  This would give you a larger area to store frozen items while saving on the electric bill.  Who says you NEED a refrigerator if all you plan to keep in it is a bottle of ketchup and a couple of beers? If someone says something ask them if they are willing to pay your electric bill!

The Dryer

Why spend money using a dryer when you can hang your clothes outside and dry them for free?  If the weather is bad string up a line indoors or use one of those clothing dryer racks. If the neighbors complain tell them what bridge to jump off of, or volunteer to stop if they will agree to pay your electric bill!

Dryers are convenient.  I must admit mine has me rather spoiled as well, but they do suck down the energy.  Wean yourself off of them on sunny days, then work towards eliminating them entirely.  If you have a thick item to dry, a well-placed fan works wonders (and is a lot cheaper than a dryer).

I am honestly debating on what to do when my dryer inevitably fails. They have clothes spinners available that spin almost all of the water out of clothing, enabling it to line-dry much faster and cost less than a traditional dryer (as well as taking up less space and using less energy to operate).  I could invest in that, or simply just hang them up and let them dry the old-fashioned way full time instead of just on sunny days!


Open the curtains and let the sun shine instead of turning on a light in the daytime. If you have nosey neighbors place a layer or two of sheer curtains up so they can’t see your business but you can still get the benefit of sunshine.

Stop being such a night owl—take advantage of the sunshine by reducing how much you are awake after dark.  There used to be a term for that—Farmer’s Hours.

LED lightbulbs use the least electricity of all the light sources available. A 40-watt LED bulb only uses 1.5 watts of electricity compared to an incandescent.  A florescent would use 9-13 watts at the same light output. Keeping the lights out is the cheapest option, however.

If you are not in a room turn the lights out.  Period. Do you like throwing money away?

Don’t use more light than you actually need.  Use task lighting where appropriate instead of wasting energy lighting the whole room.

Solar torches have greatly lowered in price.  Use these instead of outside lights and brighten your outdoors for free. Wal-Mart sells these for less than five dollars apiece so there is no excuse.

If you enjoy a scented candle, use this for mood lighting instead of an electric bulb.  Double the benefit from a single item.


If you heat with electric, keep that thermostat turned low.  There is no reason to heat the whole house when you are only actually using one room.  Keep the rest of the house cooler and use a form of area heat for the small area you are actually occupying. When you aren’t home or are snuggled in bed turn the heat down even more and close off rooms that no one uses.


Our ancestors didn’t have air-conditioning and they survived just fine. Open your windows and use fans to circulate the air instead.  Take bandannas dipped in water and place them in the freezer, then tie them around your neck or on your head for a quick cool down.  Go outside and sit in the shade if you have a tree nearby, but don’t use air conditioners unless you absolutely have to.

I keep them turned off during the day but turn them on during the hottest nights to knock the edge off of the heat while sleeping.  Mostly we use fans to cool us however—it’s cheaper that way. If I even think of getting grumpy I remind myself of my childhood spent in a mobile home without any trees nearby for shelter – not once did we consider complaining about the heat, for it was far better in the summer to be too hot than in the winter to be too cold, and I routinely had frost crawling up my walls on cold winter nights after the fire went out of our wood stove!

In Conclusion..

Quit giving money away when you don’t have to! You don’t have to install solar panels to save on your electric bill—but you do have to start thinking about how much electric you are using. It isn’t hard to reduce your electric bill, and by consciously monitoring your usage you can keep even more money in your pocket.

Have I missed anything here?  Add your tip to the comments for the rest of us!

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