Senior Resources » 20 Frugal Energy-Saving Hacks for Retirement that Will Lower Your Utility Bills

10 Energy-Saving Thrifty Tips for Retirees to Lower Utility Bills

energy-saving illustration

We all want to make the most of our hard-earned dollars, right? Unfortunately, as inflation continues to impact the middle class, paying monthly bills can be challenging – especially for retirees living on a fixed income. Luckily, we have some thrifty tips that can help! Here are some energy-saving hacks that will not only help you reduce your environmental footprint but will also save you money on your utility bills.


1. Master the Thermostat

master the thermostat

One of the easiest ways to save energy (and money!) is by installing a programmable thermostat. These allow you to set temperatures depending on the time of day, ensuring that your home is only heated or cooled when necessary.

2. Go LED

light bulb

Did you know that making the switch to LED lights can lead to significant savings over time? By switching to LEDs, you could save up to $4,000 over 20 years! This simple change can help you reduce your energy consumption and lower your electricity bills. Plus, with LED lights, you’ll enjoy a longer lifespan, meaning fewer replacements and less waste. Making this switch is an easy way to save money in the long run while also doing your part to reduce your environmental impact.


3. Use Sunshine!

energy-saving sunshine

Harnessing the power of the sun can be a great way to save money on your energy bills in the long run. One popular way to take advantage of solar energy is by installing solar panels on your roof. Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, which can then be used to power your home’s appliances and lighting. By generating your own electricity, you’ll be able to significantly reduce your reliance on traditional power sources, which can translate into significant cost savings over time. Additionally, if you generate more electricity than you need, you may be able to sell it back to the power company, potentially earning even more savings.

Another method for taking advantage of the good ol’ sunshine is by using solar-powered outdoor lighting. Instead of relying on traditional outdoor lighting that uses electricity, you can install solar-powered lights that use the sun’s energy to charge during the day and provide light at night. Not only is this environmentally friendly, but it’s a thrifty tip that saves you money! With solar-powered outdoor lights, there are no ongoing costs for electricity consumption, making it a cost-effective and sustainable option.

string lights using solar power

So, whether you choose to install solar panels on your roof or use solar-powered outdoor lighting, taking advantage of the sun’s energy can be a smart way to save money while reducing your environmental impact.

4. Unplug “Energy Vampires”

unplugging from an outlet

Did you know that electronics continue to consume energy even when they are in standby mode? These so-called “energy vampires” can add up over time, leading to higher electricity bills. However, there’s an easy way to combat this issue and save money – simply unplug your electronics when they’re not in use.


By unplugging electronics such as televisions, computers, and gaming consoles when they’re not in use, you can significantly reduce your energy consumption and lower your electricity bills. Even small devices like phone chargers and coffee makers can draw power when they’re plugged in but not in use. By unplugging these items, you could save a significant amount of money over time.

To make it easier to unplug your electronics, consider using power strips with on/off switches. This way, you can easily turn off multiple devices at once, making it more convenient to save energy. Additionally, many newer electronics come with energy-saving features that can be activated to reduce their power consumption.

5. Keep Your Fridge Efficient

nice kitchen

Your refrigerator is one of the most significant energy consumers in your home, and ensuring that it runs at peak efficiency can help you save significant money on your energy bills. One of the easiest ways to make sure your fridge is running efficiently is to ensure that its seals are tight. Over time, the rubber gasket around the door can become worn down, which can lead to air leaks that force your fridge to work harder to maintain its temperature. This can result in higher energy consumption and a higher electricity bill. By inspecting your fridge’s seals and replacing them if necessary, you can help keep your fridge running smoothly and save money.

Another way to ensure optimal performance from your fridge is to clean the coils regularly. The coils are located on the back or bottom of your fridge and can become clogged with dust and debris over time. When this happens, it becomes more difficult for your fridge to release heat, which means it has to work harder to cool down. By gently cleaning the coils with a vacuum or brush, you can prevent this buildup and keep your fridge running efficiently. This can translate into savings on your energy bills and extend the lifespan of your fridge.

6. Seal the Gaps

caulking windows

Air-sealing your home and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces, and basements can save you an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs (or an average of 11% on total energy costs), according to the EPA. Don’t allow cold air to seep in during the winter – it’ll cause your home’s heating system to work harder to keep your home warm! Likewise, in the summer, if your home is not air-sealed or lacks insulation, then your air conditioning system works harder to keep your home cool. This all translates into higher energy usage and higher electricity bills.


Start by inspecting your doors and windows for visible gaps. You may find that they can be easily sealed with weather stripping or caulking. For larger gaps, consider using draft stoppers or door sweeps to prevent air from seeping in. Additionally, installing storm doors and windows can provide an extra layer of protection against the elements.

7. Air-Dry Clothes

energy-saving clothes pins

A clothes dryer is one of the most energy-intensive appliances in a household. It takes a significant amount of electricity to power a dryer; not to mention, the heat used can also make the temperature in your home go up. Solution? Air-drying.

Air-drying clothes requires no electricity at all, so it’s completely free after the initial investment in a drying rack or clothesline. Also, air drying is gentler on your garments than the high heat used in clothes dryers, which can help them last longer and require fewer replacements (ultimately saving you more money). Although air drying may not be practical for all types of clothing (or in all weather conditions if you hang them outdoors), we say it’s worth making an effort to use this method whenever possible.

8. Install Ceiling Fans

bedroom with energy-saving ceiling fan

Ceiling fans are a great way to help circulate air and reduce the need for air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. During the summer months, ceiling fans can create a cool breeze that helps to lower the temperature in a room. This can allow you to set your air conditioning system to a higher temperature, saving you money on your energy bills. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, using a ceiling fan in conjunction with an air conditioning system can allow you to raise the thermostat by 4 degrees Fahrenheit without reducing comfort levels.

In the winter, ceiling fans can be used to help distribute warm air throughout a room. By reversing the direction of the blades, ceiling fans can create an updraft that pushes warm air down from the ceiling and into the living space. This can help to reduce your reliance on heating systems, allowing you to keep your thermostat lower and save money on your energy bills.

Ceiling fans also have the added benefit of being relatively inexpensive to operate. Running a ceiling fan costs only a few cents per hour, making it a much more cost-effective option than running an air conditioning or heating system.

9. Wash Clothes in Cold Water

folded clothes

Most modern washing machines are designed to work effectively with cold water, using specially formulated detergents that help to activate cleaning agents even in lower temperatures. Cold water washing can help protect the colors and fibers of your clothing, leading to longer-lasting garments that don’t need to be replaced as frequently. Also, using cold water for laundry reduces the amount of energy used by your water heater, which can result in significant savings on your energy bills. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy notes that switching from hot to cold water washing can save the average household up to $60 annually.

It’s worth noting that there may be some instances where hot water washing is necessary, such as when dealing with heavily soiled items or to kill bacteria. However, for everyday laundry, cold water washing is a great option for saving energy and money.

10. Check Your Air Filters


Air filters are an essential part of your home’s HVAC system, helping to keep the air circulating through your home clean and free of pollutants. Over time, however, these filters can become clogged with dust and debris, reducing their effectiveness and causing your ventilation system to work harder than it needs to. This can lead to higher energy consumption, which translates to higher electricity bills. To avoid these issues, it’s recommended that you replace your air filters every three months or more frequently depending on their condition.

In addition to saving money on your energy bills and prolonging the life of your HVAC system, replacing your air filters can also improve the air quality inside your home. Dirty air filters can allow pollutants to circulate throughout your home, which can exacerbate allergies and other respiratory issues. By keeping your air filters clean and replacing them regularly, you can ensure that the air inside your home is as clean and healthy as possible.

Looking for More Thrifty Tips?

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Looking for more thrifty tips? Then start here!

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Originally published June 28, 2023

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