15 Easy Ways Retirees Can Lower Their Utility Bills

Save big in retirement with these effortless utility bill reductions.
Updated Nov. 27, 2023
Senior woman sitting with laptop

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Utility bills can strain a tight budget. From water to energy to even cable and internet, the bills show up every month, and they always seem to rise. 

But, while you can’t escape utility bills, you can lower them and lower your financial stress.

There are little tricks and hacks you can put into place that will help you keep these rising costs at bay, especially on a fixed income.

Here are 15 ways to keep your utility bills low so you have more money to spend enjoying your golden years.

Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt

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Ask for a senior discount

Tatyana Gladskih/Adobe senior woman working using laptop

You know the saying, it never hurts to ask? This is a great place to put that to the test.

Many utility companies offer senior discounts to those over a certain age, designed to help people living on a fixed income afford their utilities. 

It may be a small discount on each bill, but every little bit helps. And asking for a discount is an easy way to avoid wasting money.

Install a high-efficiency showerhead

alfa27/Adobe kitchen pantry organization and storage

While a luxurious rain shower is wonderful, it doesn’t exactly conserve water. If you’re updating your bathroom, skip the fancy splurge and go for a high-efficiency showerhead. It will use up to 75% less water and reduce your water bill in the process.

Check your home for plumbing leaks

Monkey Business/Adobe male plumber using wrench to fix leaking sink in home bathroom

A water bill typically isn’t your highest utility bill, but that doesn’t mean you should let that money go down the drain.

Do a home inspection. Check faucets to make sure they aren’t dripping, tighten the plumbing around sinks and toilets, and make sure there aren’t any small spots that could be leaking water and money.

Don't let home repairs drain your bank account

Did you know if your air conditioner stops working, your homeowner’s insurance won’t cover it? Same with plumbing, electrical issues, appliances, and more. Not being able to make repairs could leave you in a bad situation — but a home warranty could protect you against surprise expenses.

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Use a rain barrel for water for the yard

Lea/Adobe green rain barrel

One of the biggest drains on your water usage is probably the yard. Watering your gorgeous flowers all spring and summer will use a significant amount of water and add to your bill seasonally.

But, if you use a rain barrel, you can leverage Mother Nature instead of your bank account. The rain barrel will collect water each time it rains; then, you can use it for irrigation.

Remember to unplug electronics and appliances

Love the wind/Adobe hand unplugging

A plugged-in appliance draws a phantom energy load even when it’s not in use. So, no matter how good you are about turning off the TV or the coffee maker, it's still using energy if it’s plugged in.

This may not save much at the time, but it can add up to hundreds of dollars over a year.

Plug appliances into smart power strips

Karen Roach/Adobe power surge protector on wood

Use a smart power strip if you can’t remember to unplug your appliances when they’re not in use. This will cut off power when these items aren’t being used, saving you maybe hundreds of dollars each year. 

Plus, you won’t have to remember to unplug every appliance each time you aren’t using it.

Install a programmable thermostat

zhu difeng/Adobe A smart hotel room

Optimizing your heating and cooling throughout the day is one of the best ways to make a big impact on your energy level. 

But it’s not always easy to remember when to turn it up or down. Too often, you’ll already be out the door before you think of adjusting the thermostat. A programmable thermostat makes it easy.

Switch to LED bulbs

Concept Island/Adobe hand holding energy saving light bulb

If your lamps still have incandescent bulbs, consider switching to LED. Upgrading to LED saves $215 a year on your energy bill. 

And now, LED options are available that mimic the look of incandescent bulbs, so you can still get your cozy ambient lighting.

Plant trees near your windows

PhotoSerg/Adobe luxury house in the suburbs

Put your retirement gardening hobby to good use. Plant trees near your windows to help shade your home during the hot summer months.

This will naturally cool your home, allowing you to reduce your HVAC usage and lower your energy bill during the peak season.

Change your air filters regularly

The Toidi/Adobe man replacing dirty HVAC air filter

Many don’t realize that air filters need to be changed every three months. You'll save money on your energy bill by keeping up with this regular schedule.

Your HVAC system will cool your house more efficiently, allowing you to use less energy in the process.

Call your internet and cable provider

K Abrahams/peopleimages.com/Adobe senior man on a phone call

It’s not unusual to find that you have negotiating power when you call your internet and cable provider, even if you’re not a senior. But, if you are a senior, you are in an even better position.

Explain that you’re an older customer living on a fixed income, and the customer service representative will likely be willing to work with you on a monthly bill that makes sense.

Wash your clothes in cold or warm water, not hot

Stella/Adobe elderly woman doing laundry with washing machine

The less your water heater has to work, the lower your energy bill will be.

Try washing your clothes in cold or warm water rather than hot to save money. This will also prolong the life of your clothes since hot water can be tougher on fabrics.

Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances

hedgehog94/Adobe Couple buying a new dishwasher

Splurging on new appliances won’t save you significant money immediately, but if you have to replace them anyway, it’s worth springing for energy-efficient models.

If you buy a model with EPA’s Energy Star or WaterSense labels, you could use 12% less energy and 30% less water than traditional, non-energy-efficient appliances.

Don’t wash your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher

kichigin19/Adobe dishwasher with clean dishes in kitchen

This one might be at odds with how you were raised, but you don’t need to wash your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

The dishwasher is designed to efficiently wash each dish, even with food residue. If you wash it by hand first, you’re wasting water and money.

Ask your utility provider to do an energy audit

Andrey Popov/Adobe technician repairing elevator

If you’ve done all of the above and still feel like your energy bill could be lower, ask your utility company if they do free energy audits.

They can assess your home and see where there could be issues with a window seal, ductwork, doors, and more. They will recommend the repairs and improvements to make your home more energy efficient.

Bottom line

Prostock-studio/Adobe Senior Gentleman Calculating Taxes

Everyone should try to avoid wasting money no matter what their income. But if you’re a senior, contact the utility company to see if they have a program to help you save on your monthly bills.

Then, enlist family and friends to help you put these tips into practice so you can reduce your energy usage around the home. 

Your community is here to help, and every small thing you do can make an impact on your utility bills.

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Author Details

Heather Bien Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.

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