Thoughtful Thursday: How can you save money on utilities?

Thursdays just got thoughtful around here!
Tonight kicks off a series of posts focused on ideas for being frugal in other areas of life (i.e. Not just groceries).
Thanks so much to Deal Detective Kim, for stepping outside of her box to kick off Thoughtful Thursdays with this “food for thought” on Energy Savings!

We’ve talked before about finding savings in areas OTHER than your grocery bill.  There are ways to save mega bucks on something most people think is a (mostly) fixed expense.

Programmable Thermostats:

This year, I had to replace my central heat and air unit, to the tune of $3,000.  (Ouch!)  Luckily, a friend does heating and air, so I initially saved quite a bit of what I would have paid.  Included in his price quote was a programmable thermostat.  He said they cost around $60 at Lowe’s, but they are well worth the price, because the amount you save on your energy bill pays for it in less than a year.  A couple months later, Chattanooga Gas announced they are GIVING those away to their customers.  So if you are a Chattanooga Gas customer, go HERE to get yours.  (You will need to have a copy of your bill handy.)
Even though I had just bought one, I ordered the free one anyway and gave it to a family member who needed it.  I set it for 62 degrees while I’m gone to work and 65 degrees while I’m asleep–painless savings!  It took only a couple of minutes to install–if you can put in a new light switch or ceiling fan, you can do this!

Efficient Appliances:

The new unit I bought is much more energy efficient, so it too will pay for itself eventually.  I also got a 30% federal income tax credit ($900) AND the state of Tennessee has a state resident rebate program you can find HERE.  I got a $250 rebate from them, again for doing something I already had to do.  If you live in a state other than Tennessee, search online; this program is funded by federal money, so it may be available in your state as well.
Now, I’m not saying go out and buy a new central heat & air unit if you don’t need one–that’s crazy.  What I am saying is it pays to find out what’s being offered and take advantage of it.  There are literally millions of dollars in that rebate fund; how many people do you think bought new units and didn’t know it was there?  Hint–over 75% of the funds are still available!  There’s even a $40 rebate for a window air conditioner.

Check Into “Utility Bill Averaging”:

Most utilities companies offer “Bill Averaging” – paying the same amount each month based on an average.  This may be something that will help you, if you don’t like being surprised with a $320 bill right after Christmas.  For instance, if you have very low bills in the spring/fall – but unmanageably high ones in the winter/summer – this would help even things out (for budgeting purposes).

Shop sales for energy-efficient lightbulbs:

I found a lot of compact flourescent bulbs on clearance at Rite Aid and combined them with coupons to get them nearly free.  Those, too, will save on my energy bills.  If you replace just one bulb at a time with a more energy-efficient one, eventually you will have them everywhere, and the savings from one will pay for the next one!

Weatherization Assistance:

Did you know that you can get your home re-insulated/weatherized for FREE?  WAP’s (Weatherization Assistance Programs) are funded by the government and exist in every state.  The Tennessee info is HERE - and it provides-income families with free weatherization for permanently lower utilities bills.
If you don’t qualify for government assistance in that area, many utility companies will offer a way to insulate your home for free, and pay them back in small payments.  This would pay for itself if you have an older/poorly built drafty home.   Contact your utility company to ask about this program!

More Savings Inspiration:

Yesterday, I read part of a blog by a woman who went on a “spending fast” for a year.  She paid off nearly $20,000 in debt by doing it, but a lot of the cuts were painful ones.  I don’t have anywhere near that much debt, so I don’t think that extreme would work for me, but I love painless cuts!  (Her blog, And Then She Saved,  is a good read!)
Hopefully, I’ve inspired you, just as others from this blog have inspired me!
- Deal Detective Kim
Would you be interested in being a Guest-Poster for a Thoughtful Thursday segment?  If so, email me at and pitch your idea!
*All those chosen will receive a Time2Save t-shirt or keychain fob (your choice).

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