Money & The Economy

6 15-Minute Projects to Get Your Utility Bill to Rock Bottom

Here’s some good news: At least 120 utility companies have lowered electric, gas or water rates due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which cut the corporate rate from 35% to 21%. Utility companies are passing on the tax savings in the form of lower rates for customers.

I hope your utility company is among that 120 and has let you know that your rates have gone down, or that they will be very soon. But don’t assume there’s nothing else you can do to stop spending so much of your hard-earned money on utility bills!

Check out these six projects that can be completed in 15 minutes or less and require no advanced skills or special equipment. Soon you’ll be keeping more of your hard-earned money in your pocket — not your utility provider’s.
Ready … set … go!


If you multitask while waiting for your shower to warm up — make the bed or a pot of coffee — the hot water could have been running for minutes, wasting water and adding unnecessary dollars to your utility bill.
The Evolve Ladybug Shower Head adapter saves the hot water. At about $20, the Ladybug is so smart it senses the moment the water is warm and stops the flow to a tiny trickle. When you’re ready, just flip a switch to restart the normal flow.
This adapter saves $75 in hot water costs plus 2,700 gallons of water each year, based on a family of three showering daily and saving one minute of hot water per shower.


The Black + Decker TLD100 Energy Series Thermal Leak Detector is an amazing tool that uses infrared sensors to measure surface temperature to help homeowners track down drafts in areas where energy is leaking out of your home.
This detector comes with a five-step guide to fix basic energy leaks. Plugging leaks can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs. This device helps you decide where to seal and insulate your home. It comes with a two-year warranty.


You can cut 10% of your energy costs by properly sealing and insulating areas around the home to make it as airtight as possible. Start with all of the light switches and electrical outlets.
Install foam inserts (about 25 cents each) to stop warmed or cooled air from being sucked out of the house through the air gaps around every switch and outlet. Simply remove the cover plate, pop in a gasket and replace the plate.


Turn off all the lights and walk through your home, and you’ll probably see green and red eyes peering through the darkness. All of those glowing LEDs, clocks and power switches are sneaky electronic vampires. This phantom power drain costs you money and wastes electricity.
Smart power strips like the Tonbux WiFi Smart Power Strip work to reduce your power usage by automatically shutting down power to products that go into standby mode (no more crawling under desks and furniture to manually switch a power strip to OFF). It’s compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Smart power strips will save you some serious cash. Statistics vary, but experts say standby power consumption ranges from 5% to 10% of energy consumption in an average home.


A programmable thermostat lets homeowners program temperature settings for different times of the day and, with some models, different days of the week. For example, it can be set to increase or decrease the temperature during the day when the family is at work or school.
It can also be used to automatically adjust the temperature at night when everybody is sleeping and then reset the temperature a few minutes before reveille.
There are many programmable thermostats available ranging in price from about $50 to well over $300. My pick for the Best Inexpensive basic programmable thermostat is the Lux Products TX9600TS Universal. It offers seven-day programming, a touch screen and vacation mode.
If you’d like specific sources for these energy-saving gadgets, I’ve prepared them for you at See you there!

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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