Easy Energy Efficient Tips for Affordable Living

Soooo, I’m on a bit of a home improvement kick at the moment, as I’m sure many of you have realized over the last few weeks!
Now that we have wrapped up some of our household projects (renovating Tessa’s playroom, fixing up the entryway, building the goat pen) I have been turning my attention to no and low cost solutions to making our living space a more energy efficient and cost effective place to live. Which, let’s face it, is where I probably SHOULD HAVE started from the get go in my home improvement endeavors.
The BIGGEST bill we have, aside from our mortgage, is electricity. Electric rates have soared. Especially here in good ol’ sunny California, the cost of living is just downright ridiculous. So when it comes to products and dimple habits that promise to be “energy efficient”, it really is much more than just a buzzword – it’s a way of life for a growing number of homeowners who embrace sustainable and affordable living.
I must admit, I was stubborn when it came to jumping on this bandwagon.. that is, until we moved into our house and I had to write the checks out for those first few energy bills. Then I quickly became a green living and energy efficient believer, haha! And I learned.. It IS possible to trim costs without significantly affecting your lifestyle!
While I’m still a work in progress in implementing these tips myself, I have noticed a drastic decrease in our bills since taking these steps, and it’s motivated me to keep pursuing an energy efficient lifestyle whenever I can!

Check out some of these easy tips for saving energy in your home!

Seal and insulate your home.

This is the biggest and first step to take, I’m told. Heating and cooling costs account for 45 percent of the average home’s energy tab. Sealing gaps and cracks in your attic and basement and around windows and doors, and making sure your home insulation levels meet or exceed your local codes goes a long way to cutting energy costs. I’m still in the process of weather proofing my home, but from the few steps I’ve taken, I was amazed to find how many cracks and gaps there were around air ducts, doorways and windows!

Buy energy efficient products and appliances.

While we’re slowly upgrading our major appliances (for instance, we just got an energy efficient washer and dryer), you don’t have to go big, you can start small. For instance, replacing light bulbs and light fixtures to energy efficient models. Look for the Energy Star label when you’re shopping for home items. More than 40 product categories feature the label, including major appliances and household items.

Clean your refrigerator coils regularly.

I confess, I had NEVER vacuumed my fridge coils. Ever. When I finally got around to it last year, I was AMAZED at the crud I found. To keep your fridge from working overtime and burning more energy than it needs to, be sure to vacuum out the dust and wipe with a damp cloth at least once a month. You’ll be surprised at how much nasty stuff accumulates down there!

Keep your freezer full.

An empty freezer uses more energy to stay cold. If you pack your freezer with more food – or even with gallon containers of water – it will help cut down on energy costs!

Turn off lights when you leave a room.

I am HORRIBLE at this one, but I’m getting better.. slowly! lol! Simply flipping the light switch when no one’s there is an easy way to save energy, lengthen the life of light bulbs, and cut energy costs.

Use cold water for full loads of laundry whenever you can.

On my bucket list is to be a better laundress.. you know, actually read the tags and separate hot and cold wash items. Because for most items, cold water gets your clothes just as clean as hot, and then there is the added bonus that you will use less energy. Also, hold off on doing laundry until you have a full load (or at least adjust the water level or load size appropriately for smaller loads).

Open the curtains or blinds on winter days.

Letting in warm sunlight when it’s chilly can lower your heating bill and reduce the need for lighting.

Draw the curtains or blinds on summer days.

Keeping intense sunlight out of rooms no one is in can keep your home naturally cooler and reduce your AC bill. (I am still a sucker for natural sunlight though, and keep my blinds up during daylight hours in the rooms I’m in.. so I’m planning on investing in good exterior canvasses for those windows!)

Opt for fans and windows on moderately warm and cool days.

Using fans and windows to keep your home at a comfortable temperature can be more effective than you might imagine – and it saves energy in the process. If you have good air quality where you live, it also has the added benefit of airing out your home of indoor toxins!

Change your air filters often.

For maximum efficiency, change the filters in your heating/cooling system and air purifier on time. If you are a crazy cat lady like me (with 5 indoor cats), it’s a good idea to change them BEFORE the recommended change date.

Fill the dishwasher all the way.

When you fill the dishwasher fully before running it, you use less water and energy per dish. Also, keeping the dishwasher free of debris by remembering to scrape remaining food off plates before loading them into the dishwasher helps reduce the workload of your washer and save energy as well.

Plug the sink when washing dishes.

This is another area I struggle. I love doing dishes with running water. But it is far more energy and water efficient if you plug the sink or use a washbasin to clean up by hand. It drastically changes the amount of water that is wasted.

Check plumbing fixtures for leaks.

Small household leaks can add up to gallons of water lost every day. Doing a quick check over your plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems can not only save water.. it could potentially save you thousands in foundation, roof or crawlspace damage! A plumber in Los Angeles, Chicago, or another metropolitan city would have a lot of experience with this. Small town plumbers may not be as well versed in these matters.

So! Are there any simple energy efficient tips I’ve missed? Share your insights below!

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Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

78 thoughts on “Easy Energy Efficient Tips for Affordable Living

    • 12 February, 2015 at 1:47 am

      I’m looking more into LEDs… I’m actually still quite new to the whole energy efficient light bulb thing! Trying to remedy that, haha!

    • 12 February, 2015 at 2:08 am

      Yeah, and SO MANY of these are so EASY to implement too!

    • 12 February, 2015 at 2:32 am

      Of course! Any time! <3

  • 12 February, 2015 at 5:43 am

    These are such great tips! Thank you for sharing!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

    • 12 February, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      Of course! I wish I’d learned these things sooner!

  • 12 February, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Great tips, Gingi.
    I already put many of these in use!
    Thanks … xx

    • 12 February, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      That’s awesome! Some of these I *knew*, I just never cared enough to implement them! lol!

  • 12 February, 2015 at 8:33 am

    I never thought about cleaning my fridge coils! It’s been uhmm 9 years? since we bough the fridge! First thing I will do this weekend!

    • 12 February, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Yeah, it had never even crossed my mind as something “to do”! Now I make a habit of it, at least once a month or two…

  • 12 February, 2015 at 8:51 am

    all of these tips are very useful and indispensable ways to live in the best “green” way. Some of them are so obvious and it’s incredible we don’t remember often about them.
    lovely to read, as usual

    • 12 February, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      Thank you Mari! It’s always good to be reminded of ways to live more eco-friendly!

  • 12 February, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Some of what you suggest will work here. But some of what you suggest will not work in cold, windy, drab Indiana right now. While the sun may come out, the cold temps and wind tell you don’t open your blinds or curtains. And opening our windows is not a good thing at this point. Talk about a furnace working overtime! LOL Much of what you say is good though. I hope you see a noticeable difference.

    • 12 February, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      Yeah, where I live it swings from extremes.. VERY hot to (for little ol California me) VERY cold.. so I have a small window of time to utilize the “open the blinds and windows” tip.. but when it’s feasible, I’m trying to remember to opt for that FIRST!

  • 12 February, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    my friends make fun of me for never turning the lights on–that’s what windows are for! 😉 and i vac behind the fridge over the weekend. it was kinda scary.

    • 12 February, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      lol, I love light, so I am always leaving them on. Thankfully our new house is COVERED in huge windows, so it makes breaking the “leave all the lights on” habit a lot easier..

    • 12 February, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      LOL, mine was too. 😉

  • 12 February, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Those are some great tips. I always try to save as much energy as possible. I replaced all my light bulbs and I never have the tv or other things on standby.

    • 12 February, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      Ahhhh, the TV is one I need to work on! hehe…

  • 12 February, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    I do a lot of these, Gingi! And, we are looking into your first tip about reinsulating our attic more. It is expensive though. Ouch! You are right – it is important to incorporate these little habits that can add up to a big difference in the end. Thanks for giving us all a nudge!

    • 12 February, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      Check and see if your state is offering any energy efficiency incentives! I contacted my state program and they are sending someone out to check my attic insulation FOR FREE!!!

  • 12 February, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Gingi! I think my husbands to-do list just got a little longer. But never underestimate the power of insulation. Makes a huge difference! I love your tips about blinds/curtains. It seems like such a small thing, but makes a big difference. And since we don’t have AC during the summer, we have to save where we can. My husband wants to instal Solar panels on the roof, but I’m not too sure, we don’t always get a ton of sun! Thanks for sharing these tips.

    • 12 February, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      You should check and see if your state is doing any energy efficient incentives or services.. we just had our local program come out and inspect our home for weatherization and insulation FOR FREE!! It was pretty cool! I’m waiting on their report right now! You should check it out!

    • 12 February, 2015 at 2:52 pm


  • 12 February, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Great tips 🙂 Unfortunately the one about keeping the blinds open on winter days doesn’t really apply to Berlin since most winterdays end at around 3:30 and even when it is daylight, the sun is never really shining and it is always overcast 🙁

    Rae | love from berlin

    • 12 February, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Really?! You lose daylight around 3:30?! That’s CRAZY!!

  • 12 February, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    These are awesome tips- and reminds me I need to check into cleaning my fridge coils, ha!

    Le Stylo Rouge

    • 12 February, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      LOL, that seems to be the least seen to household chore! hehe!

    • 12 February, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      Anytime Margo!! <3

    • 12 February, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      Thanks! <3

    • 12 February, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      Glad you found it helpful! <3

    • 12 February, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      No problem!! <3

    • 12 February, 2015 at 10:06 pm

      Glad you found the list helpful!! <3

    • 12 February, 2015 at 11:16 pm


    • 13 February, 2015 at 2:06 am

      I need to get better at that one! But thanks for stopping by!

  • 13 February, 2015 at 2:54 am

    These are great! Thanks for sharing!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

    • 13 February, 2015 at 3:06 am


    • 13 February, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      lol, that appears to be the most winning and shocking tip so far. 😉

    • 13 February, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks for stopping by! <3

    • 13 February, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      I should have put up a tally for which one is most overlooked.. I think the fridge wins! lol

  • 13 February, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Great tips, we’ve been trying hard to cut our costs this Winter especially. I hate the new energy saving light bulbs we have over here in the UK, they’re never bright enough. I do go round switching lights off and I’m so obsessed with it the quite often I forget someone’s in the room!

    • 13 February, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      lol, that’s so funny.. my husband does the same thing!! I love natural light, so I’m happy our new place has tons of windows.. I don’t know what I’ll do if our next place doesn’t have windows like this. Probably go back to burning through energy, haha!

  • 13 February, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Those are great tips! I am so guilty of turning my heat up high in the winter because I hate being cold indoors, but my electricity bill each month never likes me because of this.

    • 13 February, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      I am the same way! I hate the cold.. though this pregnancy I have been WAY overheated this winter! At one point I even put the AC on when it was 30 defrees outside. *blush*

  • 13 February, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    It’s funny because I remember my electric bills in CA being SO LOW! Here it’s the pellet stove all winter and the central a/c all summer. Oy.
    I love these smart tips!

    • 13 February, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      Really?!?!?! For as long as I can remember, California electricity has always been so HIGH! Our highest bill in this house was almost $500 one month.. and some friends of ours were just shy of $800 that same month!!

    • 13 February, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      Glad you found it useful!! <3

  • 13 February, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Well I don’t have a dish washer and my mom make a rule always turn off the lights if you’re leaving the room so I guess I try my best))
    Never heard about the freezer, now I’ll think about it more!


    • 13 February, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      Cool!! Glad there was something helpful on the list for you! <3

  • 13 February, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    I try again… Yesterday when I commented on this post I was taken for a spamer lol The code wouldn’t work. I had written something smashing about how awesome your post was. And I still think it’s great <3

    Energy efficiency is a money saver and environmental saver too. We are changing from low-energy lights to LED whenever one breaks. All our electric powered stuff is A-class or likewise – low energy usage. Since we live in an appartment we don't use that much energy to heat up our home. But we have choosen an energy supplier which use renewable and sustainable resources anyway. I retweeted this post to spread the word 🙂

    • 13 February, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      Awwww, thank you for the retweet!! Do you have any other tips to add?? If anyone would, I’d think it would be you!!!

  • 14 February, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Thanks for sharing all the great tips! Next time I am going to load the dish washer completely FULL.

    • 16 February, 2015 at 12:47 am

      Yeah, I’m usually real bad about not loading it all the way.. I HATE doing dished by hand!!

  • 14 February, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    We’re making some of these changes, too. One thing we did initially, was get only LED light bulbs. Fortunately our house doesn’t have many overhead lights, but I probably do need keep those switches in the off position in those rooms we’re not frequently in. Also, one of our things this year will be to re-glaze our lovely windows, check and fix any draffs, double check on our storm windows and get more insulation for the attic and crawl space.

    We also keep our freezer more packed than not (thank you beans and bones and vegetable scraps!), plug the sink when washing dishes, and wash (mostly) Only full loads. In the spring and summer, I’m looking forward to using our clothesline out back! 🙂

    • 16 February, 2015 at 12:50 am

      I am seriously thinking about switching to LED bulbs! I am slowly replacing my old bulbs with newer ones (whenever they burn out), and I have yet to really experiment with different types and such. Looks like you folks have a lot of really cool home improvement projects in the future, that is SO exciting! And kudos for using a clothes line! I am afraid to try that, since my dog will try to eat our laundry I’m pretty sure, haha! 😉

  • 15 February, 2015 at 1:41 am

    These are such good ideas, I am going to start incorporating a few 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

    • 16 February, 2015 at 1:01 am

      Yay! I’m glad! Thanks for reading! <3

  • 15 February, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Excellent advice. Being in Scotland though I never shut the curtains on summer days, we need every bit of summer warmth we can get!

    • 16 February, 2015 at 1:03 am

      So jealous you’re in Scotland.. that’s on my bucket list of places to visit!

  • 16 February, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Great tips! When we first moved into our house our energy and gas bill was over $300 which was a lot to us. After the first year, we got it down to $125 as the highest even in the winter. This winter it has been as low as $75 and it has been super cold here. You know, negative 12 or so cold. Those tips truly do work. That is basically where we started as far as getting it down. We rarely have lights on, and we unplug all of our appliances when not in use.

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