Extreme Ways to Save Electricity

Are you looking for some extreme ways to save on electricity? Check out all of these great tips submitted by readers for the best ways to save!

Are you looking for some extreme ways to save on electricity? Check out all of these great tips submitted by readers for the best ways to save! #extremesavings #saveelectricity #frugalhomesteading

Extreme Ways to Save on Electricity

Recently, I polled the Little House Living readers on the most extreme ways to save on electricity. I received so many great suggestions that I wanted to share them all with you for some inspiration. Some of these are more extreme than others but all are great ways to cut back on the electricity if you truly need help to save even more money on your electric bill each month.

Install a Wood Stove. – Angel P.

A wood stove can be a great way to save on electricity and they can pay for themselves in one season. Use them to heat your main living areas and kitchen. Maximize your electricity savings by doing your cooking and baking on it. You can keep a large pot of water on the stove to use for most of your hot water needs and hang dry your clothes next to it.

You can also purchase a heat-activated wood stove fan to sit on top of the stove, as the stove heats up the fan will blow the hot air through the house. It requires no extra electricity and can be handy if the power goes out to circulate the heat.

–More tips about How to Save on Heating Costs here.

Close Vents. – Becky

Close off vents in any rooms that are not being used to avoid heating and cooling extra spaces.

Lower Your Thermostat. – Kim R.

During the winter months, keep thermostat temperatures lower to keep costs down. Setting the thermostat to 64-68 degrees can prevent the heater from coming on for long stretches of time which will reduce costs and keep the moisture level down to prevent mold during cool, wet seasons.

Update your current HVAC. – Barbara L.

If you don’t’ have a good electric heating system, it is well worth the money and effort to install a new one and keep up with the maintenance. A good HVAC creates a steady climate in your home that saves money.

To get the most out of your current HVAC, make sure filters are changed and cleaned regularly.

Use natural light. – Melzora T.

Natural light from a window can be just as good as overhead bulbs. During the winter, open South facing windows to let the warmth in and save on heating costs too. Make sure windows are clean to let in as much light and heat as possible.

For extreme savings, try going to bed when it gets dark to prevent the need for overhead lights.

Check your windows.   – Carol S.

Check your windows to ensure they are properly sealed and not letting out heat or cool air. Purchase shrink wrap from your local hardware store to put on the insides of windows to prevent drafts on old windows that aren’t properly sealed.

You can also use black out liners for drapes over windows. This can keep the heat out in summer and heat in during the winter. You can save money by making these with a bolt of Roc-Lon insulated drapery lining.

Seal off areas in your home. – Valerie

Seal off all the cracks around your home and use weather stripping around the doors to prevent energy loss. Purchase Sealer Sockets to prevent heat and energy from escaping from your electrical outlets.

You can make door snakes use on the inside of doors to rooms that aren’t used as much and at the base of windows. You can use the legs from old jeans or denim fabric remnants to make the tubes. Fill them with bulk clay cat litter found at your local pet shop and sew the ends shut.

–Find similar tips on my post on Winter Weather Preparedness!

Insulate your basement. – Valerie

If you have a basement, think about insulating the ceiling. Check with your local hardware store and any contractors for damaged or waste board type insulation. Install using duck tape or other temporary solutions so that you can remove it if needed for plumbing or mechanical repairs.

Hang clothes to dry them. – Fatima S.

Hanging your clothes outside on a line is an easy way to save electricity. If you don’t have space outside to hang a line, you can also set up a portable drying rack inside. This one holds a good amount of clothes and folds away very neatly and tucks behind a door when not in use.   If you have a wood stove, you can place your rack near it (but not too close) to speed up the drying time.

If hanging your clothes isn’t an option due to time or space, use at least 6 wool dryer balls to prevent the clothes from clumping together and decrease drying times.

–Here are more tips on Frugal Drying Methods.

Slow Cooker

Use alternative cooking sources. – Laura, Genie, and Sheri

Using an instant pot, slow cooker, and small electric frying pan instead of a large conventional oven can reduce the amount of energy used while cooking. If you have to use your oven, use it to your advantage! In the winter, prepare your items the night before and cook them early in the morning to heat up your home. In the summer months, you can do the opposite and cook late in the evening so you do not add to the heat in your home during the hottest parts of the day.

For even more extreme savings, you can use a solar oven for cooking, dehydrating and distilling. Or purchase a Thermofan oven (convection oven). You can bake lots of different dishes at the same time and it uses less electricity than other ovens.

Scrap your Electric Appliances.

Large mixers, coffee makers and dishwashers can be convenient but they use up a lot of unnecessary electricity. Go back to mixing and washing by hand and use a coffee press to make your daily cup of coffee or tea. Water can be easily heated on a gas stove or wood stove without using additional electricity.  If you really love the convenience of these appliances, consider using their fuel-powered alternative.

–Here is a great article on how Washing Dishes By Hand Saves Money!

Turn off the lights. – D. McBee

Always turn off lights when you leave a room or that are not in use. In rooms with multiple bulbs, you can unscrew or loosen a couple of the bulbs so that you have just enough light for daily use. You can easily re-tighten the bulbs when needed or if you have company coming or would like the fixtures to look nicer.

Check your Lighting. – Crystal

Change all of your light bulbs to energy-conserving, LED bulbs. These can be pricey upfront but can really save money on your electricity bill over time. Look for mail-in rebates or instant rebates and replace a room or two at a time.

For more extreme savings, you can switch to candles, oil lamps and solar lights. Start by enjoying your meals by candlelight and then add in more times.

— You can easily make candles at home to save money. Check out these Beeswax Candles and Olive Oil Candles to get started.

Unplug things that are not in use. – Rose & Crystal

Appliances and electronics pull what is called a “ghost charge” even when they aren’t turned on. Unplug everything when you aren’t using it; computers, printers, radios, phone chargers, kitchen appliances, etc. This can be especially helpful if you leave town or go on vacation.

Deep freezers use a lot of electricity on their own. Consider plugging them in only to store meat and goods long enough for you to process them by canning or dehydrating.

For even more extreme savings, you can shut off most of your breakers until after dark to keep the TV, lights, etc. from being used.  Leave only the essentials like the stove and refrigerator in use. You can even turn off the hot water heater until the evening when it is time for dishes and baths.

Switch to a Laptop. – Mette

Desktop computers use more energy than a laptop. Laptops can be conveniently used and even charged at other locations, such as coffee shops.

Take advantage of Medical Baselines. – Susan

If you or someone in your household have a chronic medical condition that requires life-sustaining equipment, including minor aid of an air conditioner or nebulizer, you may be eligible for an energy discount using a Medical Baseline.  This program increases (and sometimes doubles) the number of hours at the lowest baseline rate rather than being pushing you up the to next higher rate tier.  Energy companies can provide you the medical applications needed for your doctor to complete verifying the condition. It will need to be renewed every two years but can be well worth the time to save you money.

More Creative Ways to Save Electricity

In addition to the tips above, I have a few of my own I’d like to add to this list! We’ve always wanted to live off the grid and while that hasn’t been a possibility for us yet, over the years our family has tried out various ways of saving and conserving energy so that we might be able to live off of a solar or wind system. Below you will find some of the ideas we’ve had and methods that we’ve tried.

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Reflective Bubble Insulation

Reflective Bubble Insulation is awesome! You just cut to fit the size of your windows and stick in. We didn’t have to use any adhesives because they fit in the little creases around the windows of our rv which is mainly where we’ve used this. Bubble Insulation works to keep the heat from coming in during the summer and the heat from escaping in the winter. We did lose some natural lighting from the windows but if you have skylights or remove the insulation during the cooler/warmer part of the day (depending on the time of year) you can still enjoy natural light.

Become Very Conscientious of Energy Usage

Once we made our decision to work towards sustainable energy, we became very conscientious of how much energy we were using, how many lights were left on, what used power and what used propane, and more. If you can spend a couple of days without any power at all and you will know exactly what you use!

Invest in LED Bulbs

I know that this is a tip that was mentioned above but it’s worth repeating. We’ve put LED lighting into each home that we’ve been in, including our RVs. Did you know the average lifespan of an LED bulb is 22 years? We’ve purchased 40 watt LED bulbs for the lamps (they actually use 7 watts of energy) and we usually get 60 watt LED bulbs for the overhead lighting (actual use is 8.5 watts), the estimated cost to use the 40 watt bulbs per year is $0.72 (if you use them for 3 hours per day). And yes that’s the YEARLY cost! When we lived in our RV, we also replaced the tiny light bulbs in our RV factory-installed lights, these run around a single watt for each bulb.

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Discover LED Nightlights

I tried out a few nights without any night lights at all but it seems like with a little one we just really need them. Amazon sells all kind of neat little LED night lights for only a few dollars each. I originally found the ones in the picture above at Walmart but we switched to THESE after the kids broke the other ones and we like them better Our wattage meter tells us they use 0.0 watts (aka nothing!) to run. Speaking of which…

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Kill A Watt

We also purchased a Kill A Watt meter so we can learn what our various devices used for amperage and wattage. I wish we would have gotten it sooner, it’s pretty neat and you really have no idea what something uses until you test it! It has been very handy to know how much electricity small appliances and other small things use and overall has been good for a learning experience. All you do is simply plug any device with a cord into the Kill A Watt and it will tell you how many amps, watts, kilowatts, or volts that an item uses.

Stop Using the Microwave

About a year ago our microwave died and after a few weeks, we realized that we hadn’t even missed it and decided not to replace it. This one wasn’t really too hard but sometimes you do miss the convenience of it…especially when you have a fussy toddler and just want to get supper ready. But did you know that the average microwave runs at 1400 watts? That’s a lot. We now use our stovetop to re-heat things that we otherwise would have in the microwave.

Learned About Solar Items

We’ve been doing our research on smaller solar items and what is worth a purchase and what’s not. To create a decent lighting system over our dining table are would cost about $300. That’s a little much at the moment but the price of solar is continually going down so it may be a possibility in the future. We got a d.light Solar Lanterns to try many years ago and I seriously think it’s the coolest thing. You just put it in the sun during the day and it produces a very nice bright light for up to 8 hours!

–You can learn more about small and simple tips for switching to solar here.

Thank you to all the readers who suggested these great tips! Even if you don’t need to work on some of the more extreme ways to save money on electricity, you might be able to glean some inspiration from this list of time. After all…who needs to pay more for electricity than they need to?

Need even more tips on how to save money on electricity? Check out some of the articles below to dig even deeper.

Save More Money on Your Electric Bills
5 Ways to Conserve Energy By Going Back in Time
How to Survive Without Running Water
5 Ways to Begin Switching to Solar Today

What is your best tip for saving money on electricity?

 

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28 Comments

  1. I’ve never heard of a Kill-a-Watt before, but it sounds like something my husband would like. He’s always concerned about how many things we have on one outlet or surge protector. 🙂

  2. You mentioned LED bulbs that are the equivilant to a 40 watt bulb. Seriously, how can you see with 40 watt bulbs? I can’t see well using 60 watt bulbs. I need at least 2- 100 watt bulbs in an average sized living room.

  3. How interesting. I keep trying to talk hubby into seriously downsizing our living quarters. I’ve obsessed about RV living and renovating a van and living in it. Right now we still have 2 teen boys at home, so yes it could be a big challenge, but hubby isn’t convinced that he could live in such a small space. I know we could do it. LOL! I just keep thinking the “what ifs?” like what if we loose our jobs, then we would probably be homeless. Thanks for sharing. Now something more to obsess over (in a good way). 🙂

  4. Love your web site! My son bought a used camper and is thinking about living in it to save money to buy a house. Thanks for all the helpful info!

  5. I believe in living simply. We currently live in a 1060 sq. foot ranch home. We also have two teen sons. I would not consider RV living right now. However, we have made interesting decsions in furnishing our place lately. We have decided to get rid of any couches in our home. No overstuffed chairs either. We use fancy lawnchairs. Some of the newer ones are quite comfortable! They also stack easily. We have so much more space, visually and otherwise. We also use a lot of collapsible tables. If we want to entertain, we have plenty. We have one Amish made oak wood bench, a lifetime piece of furniture. You can sit on it with enough room for the dog,
    lift the lid and find beneath a lot of storage for hats and gloves.

  6. Hi Merissa
    The “thermal cooker” you mention sounds just like an old trick they used in the 1940s during the war – and later too – when there wasn’t much fuel of any kind: A box filled with hay would allow the porridge, potatoes, soup or … to continue cooking in the pot though off the wood-burning stove. Cover with tea towels if necessary. In other words, you can make a thermal cooker very cheap
    Just a Fun fact from Denmark
    //Mie

  7. I thoroughly enjoy the tips that you post. We are in the beginning planning stages of moving into an RV full-time. There’s a road ahead of us, but these energy tips you posted can be quite useful. I’ll have to see what my hun would like to do, as you said, even around our place now. Thanks!

  8. After geting the knowlegde I begin using the energy saving devices such as LEDs ,various solar energy devices such as solar panel ,solar heater and solar cookers.because of only this i have saved alot of electric bills and made our earth our earth environment friendly.We all should take step to come forward inorder to save various energy resources for our future generation.

  9. I LOVE my thermal cooker. I don’t know what brand you have purchased, but I have the Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker. I have cooked chicken and meatloaf in mine with no worries. I tested the meatloaf with a meat thermometer to make sure it was cooked thoroughly and it was!

  10. Thanks for sharing this info, Merissa! I plan to live off the grid one day when I have my own farmhouse, and a lot of these tips were new and very interesting to me!

  11. We have been preparing to live off the grid for some time. We are preparing to buy property and will build our own home. We are considering having the living area’s using an alternative energy source and the sleeping area’s powered by nothing except having some solar lights similar to the one’s you spoke of. Electricity on the grid is a burden for people who are trying to live simply. We are trying to learn how to be self-sustainable with the Lord’s help. It’s a whole change in lifestyle. It has been a challenge to do this with a 14 person family. We have to do everything several times over than the average size family. Would not trade the experience of learning how to live REAL for anything. We are so much more content as a family than we have ever been.

  12. Hi Merissa
    I’ll be moving into my TT fulltime near years end and am very excited!! I am glad to hear the reflectix works well- I have purchased enough to use in my bedroom at night and also the jalousie windows in the LR come winter time. Like the idea of the Kill-a-watt!! Will have to get one of those and do some experimenting. I will be sizing my power needs for adding solar if it is in the budget eventually… Oh! I LOVE my D-lights too!! The task lights came with me on safari in Africa and I gave one to my guide as electricity is scarce and it can recharge during each day. I kept the lantern/charger for charging my phone off-grid. (I also like that they donate a light for every $50 you spend. Cool.) I’m really enjoying reading your blog.Thanks for sharing 🙂 Cheers!

  13. Try using a solar oven. We have cooked bread, pork roast. stew & chili in ours.
    They have them for sale on several web sites as well as instructions to build your own.

  14. I LOVE our LED bulbs. They are pricey, so I buy them to replace what we have as we can. Sam’s Club has had the best selection in the past, though the last time I went to buy some, I could not find the aisle they moved them to. They last longer by far than either standard bulbs or than fluorescent bulbs. Furthermore, they come on promptly, can be dimmed, and they have no harmful mercury in them that could be damaging if dropped and potentially damage water sources by breaking in landfills and leaching into water supplies.

    Also, another item that people may not have considered when going to solar or other forms of alternate energy for power is to use a convection microwave oven. They use FAR less electricity than a standard oven or microwave use. They have also really dropped in price (50% less) over the past year alone. An acquaintance of mine has an off-grid solar set up and is able to use her convection microwave successfully on solar-generated power from their battery storage.

    Finally, another note to consider when going off-grid and wanting to reduce your electricity consumption is to use a non-frost-free refrigerator. The function a frost-free refrigerator has of turning on and off causes energy spikes that are too much for a solar powered system. The non-frost-free refrigerators use less energy, believe it or not, than the newer frost-free models. I learned this, also, from the above acquaintance.

    1. I agree, we LOVE our LED bulbs! We’ve been able to find them on sale for around $7 lately and are stocking up for the new house. You can hardly tell any difference with them than with incandescent lights.

      A convection oven is a great idea. We had one when we lived in a camper previously and used it for everythign a normal oven would be good for.

  15. Merrisa,
    We just moved into our “tiny house”. One of the things we are considering is using a propane fridge. Did you have one and if so, how much propane did it use? Our electric company wanted to charge us over 12,000 to bring power to us.. so we have elected to go off grid.
    Thanks so much!

    1. We had a propane fridge in our camper but don’t have in our house yet since they are fairly expensive. The propane fridge we had in our camper used very little propane although I’m not sure on an exact amount since we were also using propane for our water heater as well.

  16. Hi Merissa,
    We are in Pennsylvania and my husband and I are doing our research preparing to buy a school bus to convert. There are many campgrounds around but only a few have “annual” stay. We have one in mind but they shut off the water during the months of November to March with the exception of electric and sewage. Did you have this dilemma? Do you have suggestions on what to do with water? Thanks.

    1. The campground that we used left the water on certain hydrants (with heaters) for just a few spots in the park. A couple of the other places that we talked to would not allow you to be hooked up to water all of the time but you could fill you tank and then unhook. Of course it would still have to be a fairly decent day for that otherwise it would just freeze while it’s filling! I would ask that campground if they have other fulltimers that stay during the months when the water is off and what they do.

  17. I select a billing option for electricity that allows free usage after 9:00pm. As a night person, I find it easy to start a load of wash or the dishwasher at 9:00. Also I run the ac at night so need it little during the day. When I do need it, I run it for just an hour, then use a fan. I work at remembering to turn off fans in rooms I’m not using as I’d not be getting their benefit.

    Also, because most of my tasks are small, I often opt for old-fashioned manual tools in kitchen and workshop. I have an old-style rotary push mower, great for exercise.

  18. Every utilities company has high&low energy use hours posted on their websites. In my state the cheapest time to use energy is from 7-10pm, the price is lowest then. Business hours are very expensive! Save your laundry and other chores for the evening to save $$$

    1. Marla, I remember as a kid, mom and grandma saved the big electric stuff like laundry and dishwasher for night time. So it’s always been my habit as well. I wasn’t sure if that actually carried over to today. I think if you are part of an energy cooperative you might be able to find that information. Not so much with ‘big’ electric companies.

  19. So glad to see this article making the rounds again! Now, we’re fortunate enough to qualify for PIPP assistance in our area, making our monthly bill affordable regardless of usage, but these tips are always good for practicing, especially for those trying to live a sustainable or low-impact lifestyle!

  20. I live in Australia and we have ten solar panels on our house. Out last electricity bill for the the March to June quarter was just under -$3. Our home is insulated and we do run the air conditioner a lot in summer. This winter mum has been cold so we have been running the reverse cycle function to warm the house. We have ceiling fans to reduce the use of air con. We have four units but try to run one at a time. Our hot water bill is extremely low since we installed a reverse cycle hot water system. It costs around $20 a quarter to heat our water. We are two women and we work hard at reducing usage. I also purchased a huge front loader and at the most I wash three loads a week. Often it is just two.

  21. Wouldn’t using a wood stove be harmful for the environment? Cutting down trees is not a good thing and I would have to buy my wood anyway. Also, burning wood in the house (or coal) causes allergies (ask me how I know, my parents did this my whole life and I have awful allergies). I agree on the rest of the ideas to reduce the use of electricity.

  22. If you happen to have an electric hot water heater consider turning it off at the breaker box every night after dinner and turning it back on at breakfast. There will be hot water at all times but it won’t run several times at night.
    In my case, living alone, I turn it off for a few days. Instead of using hot water, I heat water in a large glass teapot and do dishes and clean myself and kitchen by adding cold water to the boiling water. I only turn it on to wash sheets and take showers. I save $at least 500.00 in a year.
    Another point is I do everything including eating in daylight hours so I do not have to turn on any big lights.
    I have motion sensor battery lights in each room. As I walk thru the house they turn on and if I stand near them they stay on like the one in the bathroom when I ready myself for bed. After I leave a room, 30 seconds later they turn off. This way you aren’t constantly flipping on and forgetting electric lights. I have solar lights and USB lights. You could say I am ready for any lighting situation.

  23. Something that might work if you have propane. We have propane lights in a remote lake home. They provide about 60 watts of incandescent light; use about 1000 btu’s per hour. ( 92 hours on a gal ). We also got 1000 watt inverter and one deep cycle battery for about $190, and run several led bulbs and sometimes a fan per evening (110 volt from 12,volt). We can usually go 3 nights b4 needing to recharge the battery with a $59 10 amp charger. No generator noise or gas burned.