Don’t waste money on needless utilities expenses

Growing up, we are told to shut off water when brushing our teeth, take shorter showers and turn off lights when we leave a room. But there are other ways students can reduce their utility spending and ultimately reduce their energy consumption. 

Run laundry and dishwasher only when full

This can save up to 1,000 gallons of water per month, said Jon Callahan, public affairs specialist at City of Bloomington Utilities. Air drying clothes and hand washing dishes reduces water bills even more. 

Callahan said it’s hard to put an exact dollar amount on these changes without being more specific about brands, usage and companies. For on-campus students whose only utility is laundry, condensing loads can add precious dollars to cash-strapped wallets.

“It’s not really much of a change in your behavior," Callahan said. "It really isn’t. If you alter your behavior by a little bit you can save money.” 

Fight energy vampires

An energy vampire refers to any appliance left plugged into an outlet when not in use. Power strips, which connect multiple devices to one outlet, allow users to slay energy vampires with one simple toggle. A two-pack of six-outlet power strips from Amazon costs about $10, but unplugging dormant devices can cut electric bills by up to $100, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Use refrigerators wisely

Lower the refrigerator’s temperature to prevent excessive energy costs. The IU Office of Sustainability suggests keeping refrigerators at 37 degrees Fahrenheit, and freezers at 3 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead of running tap water until it reaches the desired temperature for a cold drink, Callahan suggests keeping a pitcher of cold water in the refrigerator.

Choose natural options

Open blinds instead of turning on light bulbs, and use heat and air conditioning only when necessary.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, space heating and cooling constitute about half of a home’s energy use.

Be thorough

Check for leaks in taps, pipes and hoses. One drip can waste 20 gallons of water per day, according to City of Bloomington Utilities. Make sure the toilet flapper, which is located within the back of the toilet and controls the amount of water released into the bowl, doesn’t stick after flushing to stop more unnecessary water usage.


The U.S. Department of Energy offers an online calculator to estimate how much energy each appliance uses. Since utility costs vary by circumstance, online calculators indicate whether it’s worth it to invest in more energy efficient appliances.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star appliances offer energy efficient options to help consumers save money, conserve energy and fight climate change. Homeowners and businesses can buy individual Energy Star appliances, or may have their home certified with the Energy Star symbol. This label indicates the home as 15-30 percent more efficient than the average home, according to Energy Star’s website. 

Duke Energy:  1-800-521-2232

City of Bloomington Utilities: 812-339-1444

Vectren Corporation: 1-800-777-2060

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