13 Small Ways to Stop Wasting Money Around the House

These are some of the easiest changes to make to help you stop wasting money at home.

young couple arguing about money at their house
Updated July 11, 2024
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When you’re trying to balance a budget and add some money to your savings, you may think you need to earn more. You may be considering putting in more hours at work or picking up a side gig to boost your bank account.

Before you do that, consider all of the ways you’re wasting money around your home. You may be surprised by just how much money you can save with a few key changes.

These following tweaks could help you lower your financial stress and get your finances on track.

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Install a programmable thermostat

Monkey Business/Adobe man adjusting digital central heating thermostat at home

A programmable or smart thermostat could help you save money. Right now, your basic thermostat turns on and off whenever the air around it reaches a level of the goal temperature.

But your basement doesn’t need to be toasty warm all winter if no one uses it. And in summer, you may not need to cool your home during the day if no one’s home. 

A programmable thermostat or an upgrade to a "smart" learning thermostat may help reduce energy costs.

Check plumbing for water leaks

Robert Daly/KOTO/Adobe plumber working under kitchen sink

Many people don’t realize that water leaks around the home can cost you more money with each drip. 

The U.S. Department of Interior offers a drip calculator that helps you see just how much that dripping faucet or running toilet is costing you. 

You’ll see that if you have just one drip per minute in your home, that’s about 0.3 gallons of water going down the drain daily, or over 104 gallons each year. Find these leaks and repair them to reduce your water costs.

Install a timer on the hot water heater

Valerii Honcharuk/Adobe Woman adjusting hot water heater

Putting a timer on your hot water heater is a simple way to save some money. Most of the time, the hot water heater’s big tank turns on and heats up the water to the desired temperature 24 hours a day. 

However, if you’re not home most of the day, you really don’t need that to keep heating your water. A timer can help reduce how frequently it’s heating up water that no one is there to use.

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Use LED lights

Valerii Honcharuk/Adobe woman installs LED lights in new ceiling chandelier

LED lights could be the easiest switch of them all. By using these energy-efficient lightbulbs in your home, you’re saving money on energy consumption.

Look for Energy Star-rated bulbs. They could save you 75% of the cost to light your home, and they tend to last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

Use reusable water bottles instead of bottled water

Lalandrew/Adobe young man drinking water from reusable steel thermo bottle

Pick up a few reusable water bottles. They don’t have to be fancy metal versions or those with fun straws. Keep it simple. Making this change could save you a significant amount of money.

Let’s say you spend $20 on a reusable bottle. Considering a 40-bottle case of Kirkland Signature water costs around $30, you’ve recouped the cost of the bottle pretty quickly — especially if each person in the family consumes several bottles a day.

Cancel ghost subscriptions

pikselstock/Adobe  young woman working on laptop in her studio

Many people have ghost subscriptions, or things they pay for each and every month that they don’t usually use or want.

That could be a subscription to an online investment tool you don’t use or fees for an app that you haven’t opened in months.

Take a look at your statements to find these subscriptions and then cancel them before they renew again, saving you $10, $20, or more per month, depending on the service.

Close the heat registers

Serenethos/Adobe both hands on closed air vent to reduce air circulation register

Heat registers are those vent-like devices in each room of the home that allow heated or cooled air to move from the HVAC to that space.

If you have rooms in your home you don’t often use, like spare bedrooms or basement storage areas, closing the registers helps prevent treated air from entering that space, allowing it to travel to other areas of the home instead. Closing the registers can save you money.

Keep furnace filters clean

oasisamuel/Adobe person changing an clean air filter on a high efficiency furnace

To operate efficiently, your home’s heating and cooling (HVAC) system needs to have clean filters in place. The filter works to collect particles before they enter the HVAC, reducing the wear and tear on the system. 

A clean filter also makes it easier for the system to suck in air which means it uses less energy to function. Changing your filters according to manufacturer recommendations could save you money.

Stop wasting food

Monkey Business/Adobe couple in kitchen preparing high protein meal

How much food do you waste each week because your good intentions of preparing that meal didn't pan out? From the bags of salad mix you thought you would use for lunches to fresh fruit you never prepped, it all adds up.

There are a few ways around this. First, create a meal plan for the week and stick with it. Not eating out will help you save money, too.

Also, doing your food prep as soon as you come home from the grocery store will make it easier to just throw a meal together when you need to.

Pro tip: Shopping trips aren't cheap these days, but there are several strategies to save money on groceries, including using credit cards that offer cash rewards.

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Check your bank fees

insta_photos/Adobe middle aged older woman housewife reading paper

When was the last time you looked to see how much your bank was charging you to hold onto your money?

Bank fees aren’t always easy to spot because you don’t get a receipt for them. Instead, they pop up on your statement.

Fees for a checking account or an overdraft (which average around $29 per incident) add up fast. Some banks charge ATM fees, too. If you have investment accounts, look into those costs as well. Your goal is to pay as little as possible, and some banks do make that possible.

Turn off the electric flow

Love the wind/Adobe hand unplugging

Sometimes called “energy vampires,” appliances sitting on your kitchen countertop or electronics in your living room are pulling electricity on a constant basis, even if you’re not actively using them. 

If you have a DVD player that’s plugged in or an electric razor in the bathroom, these are all pulling power. Bricks like big power plugs that you plug electronics into have a switch you can turn off. 

Other items need their plug pulled to eliminate energy consumption. These are just a few of the ways to save on utilities.

Turn the lights off

fizkes/Adobe young woman turns on off lights in a cozy home

Here's another: Simply turning the lights off in the home when no one is in the room could help you save $100 or more a year.

If you have trouble remembering, consider installing a smart switch that uses motion sensors to know when the light should be on or off.

Clean the dryer vent

Viktoria/Adobe dust and hairs in reservoir trap of the drying machine

This vent goes from the back of your dryer out of your home, allowing gasses and trapped heat to escape safely. However, it is typically filled with debris, lint, dust, and other materials from the clothes. 

If you don’t clean it, it becomes a safety hazard and also makes the dryer work harder to dry your clothing. Make sure to clean it several times a year.

Bottom line

fizkes/Adobe man in glasses sit at workplace desk in office

According to a survey by the Ladder life insurance website, Americans waste around $18,000 a year on things considered nonessential. Imagine getting even a fraction of that back into your budget.

Saving a few cents or dollars here and there might seem insignificant, but making the effort on several of these tasks could help you save a significant amount.

Beyond these tips, think of other ways you can lower your financial stress by saving money on groceries, gas, or utilities every day.

Author Details

Sandy Baker

Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.