This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
With a possible recession on the horizon, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your spending habits. Inflation is steep, utility bills are skyrocketing this fall and winter, and gas prices are on a roller coaster, but little changes you make around the house can produce a big difference in your monthly costs. Whether it’s swapping warm water for cold in your laundry cycle or turning off the lights when not in use, we’ve got over two dozen tips to help you ease the strain of inflation.
With tips that range from easy lifestyle adjustments to investing in energy-efficient gadgets, here are 27 ways you can start cutting costs in your home right now. (You can also check out whether or not it’s cheaper to buy groceries online than in the store, and if meal kits are more cost-effective than buying individual ingredients.)
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Save money in the kitchen
Grow herbs: A bundle of herbs costs three or four bucks. Keeping a little herb garden on your window sill will cost about the same upfront, but can yield herbs for months. If you’re looking to get started, read more about the five easy steps to growing fresh herbs at home.
Don’t buy bottled water: Bottled water seems cheap, but it gets expensive fast. Settle for a water filter pitcher so you can use tap water. It’s cheaper over time and it’s better for the environment, too. There are many options on the market today, but you can learn about our favorites here.
Make your own coffee: It seems obvious, but those daily cafe Americanos can easily take a chunk out of your bank account (trust me, I know). Use a coffee maker or French press to get that caffeine fix instead. Here’s how to make iced coffee, dalgona coffee and imitation Starbucks favorites. You can also make your own cold-brew coffee or homemade espresso.
Throw almost-spoiled fruits and veggies in the freezer: Buying fresh produce, then opting for tastier freezer meals while the bananas and spinach spoiled was a weekly ritual in our house. Then we started tossing them in the freezer to use for smoothies. It cut our weekly waste way down. Here are more tips to keep fridge food fresher for longer.
Keep your freezer full: Speaking of freezers, when you keep your freezer full, it works more efficiently, taking less energy to keep the contents cold.
Keep your dishwasher full, too: Running half-loads of dishes is a quick way to waste water and dish detergent.
Break out that Dutch oven: It could be a Dutch oven or a slow cooker of any kind, but cooking in bulk really helps cut down the costs associated with more individual-size meals.
Eat leftovers: This isn’t a tip so much as a choice. Keep your leftovers and don’t give yourself the excuse not to eat them. It’ll stretch your dollar way further. Plus, we have tips for the best way to reheat your leftovers to get the most out of your uneaten food.
Be selective about organic foods: Organic food can be pricey, and ethically grown meat is even more expensive. So, for the most problematic products, buy organic to avoid pesticides and hormones, and get the standard fare for the rest of your grocery list.
For more tips on slashing grocery costs, check out
- Here’s How Much You’ll Save Buying Store-Brand Groceries
- Here’s How Much Money You Can Save by Going Meatless Once a Week
- Here’s How to Keep Fruits and Vegetables Fresh Longer
Save money in the laundry room
Hang-dry your clothes: Save energy by hang-drying the laundry. (Nobody will notice your wrinkled shirt.)
Wash with cold water: Another way to cut costs is washing with cold water. Unless you have serious stains or odors you’re trying to remove, most clothes can wash in the cold cycle without issue.
Run full loads of laundry: Pack your washer to capacity, because you’re going to use the same amount of water either way. May as well get as much use from it as you can.
Check your mechanical closet
Lower that water heater temperature: Check the temperature on your water heater (if you can access it). You generally don’t need it to be above 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.8 degrees Celsius), and higher temps come with higher fees.
Change filters: It’s not just your water heater’s inefficiency costing you money; your HVAC system can burn a hole in your wallet if you haven’t changed its filter recently, so learn when to swap in a new filter.
Here Are 23 Ways to Save On Your Electric Bills Right Now
Save while paying bills
Switch credit cards: If you spend a lot of money at Whole Foods or on travel, consider specific credit cards that will offer the best rewards for your current spending habits.
Use a budgeting app: One of the hardest parts of budgeting is just developing awareness of our spending habits. Using a budgeting app like Mint is a great way to see exactly how your impulse buys really do shape your monthly budget.
Use coupons: Coupons are basically like cash. If you buy things online, doing a 30-second search for coupons will often save you 10% or more. Check out these 21 money-saving browser extensions and apps.
Pay bills online: There are few things I hate more than late fees on bills. Setting up autopay on your electricity and water bills will help avoid those unnecessary fees, and they’ll also remove the need for postage on paper bills.
Unsubscribe from services: While you’re thinking about bills, check on your subscriptions. If you haven’t used a certain streaming service or that fitness app in a month or more, cancel it. You can always restart it in a few minutes if you change your mind.
Save on entertainment
Use library online resources: If you have a library card, your public library likely offers a lot of free online services, such as ebooks or even streaming services. Give them a shot.
Check out Project Gutenberg: Project Gutenberg is a great online resource for ebooks, offering over 60,000 titles. You can read more about it and other ways to download and read books for free.
Go outside: Not to sound like a dad from the ’90s, but go outside! It’s a free way to mix up the day, get some exercise and remind yourself that your bedroom is not the whole world. Here are some ideas for fun games to play outside and setting up a backyard movie night.
Start a garden: While you’re outside, think about starting a garden to grow your own veggies and herbs. If you have a backyard, you can avoid many of the upfront costs of a raised bed and simply get seeds to plant in the ground. You can get plenty of seeds for less than $20, and that will translate into much more than $20 worth of food over the following months.
Build a compost bin: OK, this one is a longer-term investment, but building a garden can be hard and expensive if you’re starting from scratch. If you start tossing your food waste into a compost bin now, though, you won’t have to buy tons of fertilizer or expensive soil for your garden next year. Plus, composting is another good way to help the environment. Here’s a beginner’s guide to composting, and how to start a worm compost bin for excellent fertilizer.
3 miscellaneous tips for cutting costs
Dress for the temperature: If you work from home, that means adjusting the “office thermostat” now directly affects your monthly bills. So adjust it less and dress comfortably for the temperature. After all, no one’s around to judge you for wearing sweats.
Switch fan direction: Most ceiling fans have a small switch on them that changes the direction they spin. In the summer, run the fan counter-clockwise so it blows air down on you. This can help avoid the need for more air conditioning.
Use energy-efficient bulbs: LED bulbs cost more to buy, but in the long term, they cut down on electricity costs. As bulbs burn out in your house, make the switch.
More money-saving tips:
- Peak and Off-Peak Energy Explainer: Save Money, Find the Cheapest Time to Use Electricity
- Does Unplugging Your Appliances Actually Save Money?
- The Best Energy-Saving Smart Home Devices to Help You Save on Utility Bills
- Change Your Water Heater’s Set Temperature and Save Money
- This Is the Ideal Temperature to Set Your Thermostat to This Summer
- What’s My Favorite Kitchen Appliance? The One That Saved Me Hundreds of Dollars
- Good Wine Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive. Here’s How to Shop for Bargain Beverages
- It’s a Mistake to Throw Out Your Food Scraps