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Savings in the House

Savings in the House is a project of the Smarter Cities Partnership, a coalition led by the City of Knoxville. Savings in the House teaches simple, low-cost ways for Knoxville residents to save money on utilities and increase in-home comfort. 

By following the tips below and in the Savings in the House resource guide (linked above), you can lower your utility bill without a lot of work or money, and without your landlord or an expensive hired professional.  

When it comes to energy and water use, the little things you do around the house are a big deal - they add up! The more steps you check off, the more you can save. 

Your Home's Biggest Energy Users

Keep your thermostat as high in the summer and as low in winter as you comfortably can Thermostat
Heating and cooling uses about 32% of your home's energy, so every degree you raise the temperature in summer or lower it in winter will save you money! Aim for 78 degrees F in summer or 68 degrees F in winter to make the biggest change in your bill. Try adjusting it one degree a day so you don't feel as big a difference. If your heating or cooling system runs all the time, this tip is extra important.
Light switchTurn off the lights when you leave a room 
Lighting can use about 10% of your home's energy, so turning off the lights can have a big impact on your utility bill. Tape a note near the light switch to help you remember on your way out the door.
Washer and dryerDo laundry in cold water 
It's not how you were taught to do laundry, but cold water really will get your clothes just as clean, without draining your wallet. Save money and time by combining all colors of clothes to do fewer loads. Note that dirty cloth diapers still need to be washed in hot water, though.
An air ventControl air flow
Don't waste money heating or cooling rooms you don't use, or making your HVAC unit work harder than it has to. Check air vents and the return regularly and move any furniture that blocks airflow. Close the doors to rooms you don't use, or even close their vents seasonally to prevent air flow. Replace air filters regularly to keep the unit running smoothly.
Seal windowsSeal air leaks
It's very common to have cracks and gaps in your home, which means your indoor air is leaking out and wasting money. Check doors, windows, and attic and crawl space entrances for gaps that could be letting air in or out. You can block gaps with rolled-up towels for a free and easy fix, or install caulk or weather stripping easily and inexpensively.
Efficient lightingReplace lightbulbs
As your lightbulbs burn out, replace them with CFLs or LEDs. These bulbs cost a few dollars more than traditional incandescents, but they’re worth it. They’ll use about 75% less energy and last 10-25 times longer, so the dollars you save will add up fast.
Power stripUse power strips to easily control electronics
When electronics and chargers are plugged in (even if fully charged and/or turned off), they still suck up enough energy to cost you up to $100 per year. You can buy an inexpensive power strip, plug your devices in, and easily turn off the entire strip while your devices aren’t in use.

Your Home's Biggest Water Users

FaucetTurn Off the Faucet
Turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving could save you more than 200 gallons per month.  
Shower HeadTake Showers Instead of Baths
A shower typically uses 10-25 gallons of water, while a bath uses up to 70. Take the shower challenge: choose a 5 minute song (or shorter) to sing in the shower. When the song ends, end your shower too.

ToiletImprove Toilet Efficiency
The average toilet uses up to 7 gallons of water with each flush. You can put a plastic bottle or a resealable bag filled with water in the bottom corner of the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used per flush.  
AppliancesUse Appliances Efficiently
Only operate laundry machines and dishwashers when they are full, and select the appropriate water level or load size selection on the machine.  
SprinklerConserve Water in The Yard
A great deal of water from sprinklers evaporates into the hot summer air. Try to water lawns and gardens in the cooler morning or evening hours, and limit watering to two to three times a week.  
Toilet LeaksCheck for Toilet Leaks
Because toilet leaks can be silent, they can go unnoticed and waste over 200 gallons a day. Check your toilet regularly to ensure the flush handle is working correctly, confirm the lift chain is not catching on to anything, and verify the flapper is properly sealed. 
WaterSenseUpgrade Showerheads
Traditional showerheads can waste as much as 2,900 gallons of water per year. You can easily install inexpensive faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads to lower your water use. Look for products labeled with the EPA WaterSense logo to identify efficient products.  

Understand Your Utility Bill

What does CCF mean?
Water is billed in hundreds of cubic feet (CCF). 1 CCF is 748 gallons of water.

How is my wastewater cost determined?
Wastewater cost is based on your water usage. Every $1.00 saved on water costs is equal to $3.00 saved on wastewater charges.

Learn more at KUB's 'Understand Your bill' webpage.

Additional Resources

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
TVA programs include DIY Home Energy Assessment, Home Energy Evaluations, and Home Energy Financing Options. Learn more at the TVA EnergyRight website.

Knoxville Utility Board (KUB)
KUB programs include Home Uplift, Round It Up, and Energy & Water Saving Workshops. Learn more at the KUB Home Uplift webpage and Workshops webpage

Knoxville - Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC)
CAC programs include Home Weatherization Assistance Program, Emergency Home Repair, Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program, and Project Help. Learn more at the CAC website and CAC Housing and Energy Services website

City of Knoxville
City programs include home rehabilitation finance support and more. Learn more at the City's Housing Programs webpage.        

Savings in the House resident education  Savings in the House Outreach Table