America's Cheapest Family shows how to save on utility bill - CBS 5 - KPHO

America's Cheapest Family shows how to save on utility bill

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

 They've been dubbed America's Cheapest Family - and for good reason.

The appropriately named, Economides (yes, that's their real name) have managed to live within or below their means.

They have lots of ideas on how to save that come from personal experience.

When the Economides were first married, they managed to pay off their house in 9 years, using one income of $33,000.

They raised five kids, while they were paying it off.

But the Economides said saving tons of money didn't happen all at once.

"We weren't really good at this whole frugal thing at first, but after a while it became a game, and a really fun game to play.  After a while we started seeing success," said Steve Economides.

Their kids seem to agree, saving money is fun. The family made it a habit to play board games instead of going out and spending a lot of money. They buy each other used gifts, emphasizing the idea that "new" doesn't mean better. They only go out to dinner about two times a year.

Everyday this week the CBS 5 Morning News is sharing their ideas on how to spend less on your various expenses. This morning we learned how to cut down on your utility bill.

"We'll start real simple - a programmable thermostat," said Steve Economides.  "Basically you can save about 10 or 20 percent by having this thing think for you."

Steve bought the thermostat used.

"Now I did something real crazy and I combined this with a timer so I saved about 25 percent this summer," added Economides.

"For people who have flat roofs, make sure your roof is coated," said Economides.

Steve said, "that dropped our utility bill about 10 percent by painting it white, we had a beige roof before."

He said they planted shade trees and they use window coverings to try to keep the heat out.

Steve also cuts back on water. With five kids, a lot of water was used for showers, sometimes long showers.

"So we set a timer, especially for teens, [for] 10 minutes or so and we only had to turn the water off once," said Economides.

A final tip: place a filled up 32 ounce water bottle in your toilet.

Steve said, "it displaces the water so every flush you're using 32 ounces less and you still have enough head pressure to flush the toilet."

These measures could save 20,000 gallons of water a year, enough to fill a swimming pool just by limiting showers, using low flow shower head and putting a water bottle in the toilet.

The highest utility bill for their 3,500 square foot house during the summer was about $290.

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