As Alyssa Allen gets ready to go to sleep, she puts on an unconventional set of pajamas. Her set of night clothes include a hoodie, sweatpants, mittens, a beanie and a snow jacket. Allen is in for a cold night, preparing for temperatures below 30 degrees in her apartment.
To most people, this sounds like a horrific night with a broken heater. For Allen, this was just another winter night.
Allen and her husband are not the only BYU students taking extreme measures to cut down their monthly utilities bills. They do not use their air conditioning and heater in their off-campus apartment.
“We assumed the apartment wouldn’t get too bad in the winter, but it got below 30 degrees some nights,” Allen said. “Trying to get through the night was a live-and-learn situation.”
Their first apartment didn’t have any sealants on the door and windows, so they had to get creative to be able to sleep through the night. They wore winter gear to bed, bought a heating blanket and took hot showers and baths throughout the day to stay warm.
After getting through cold winters without a heater, they found that the summer wasn’t much better.
“The apartment is usually about five degrees hotter than the temperature outside in the summer,” Allen said. “I have trouble falling asleep at night because it gets so hot.”
To combat the heat in their apartment, Allen runs multiple large box fans all day and cools herself with a damp cloth. They try to spend as little time as possible in their apartment during the summer.
Allen isn’t the only one sacrificing comfort for lower utilities rates. Jordan Eickbush, a public health major from Rock Springs, Wyoming, also tries to do small things to save on her utilities bill. In her apartment, she has a rule to only spend 10 minutes or less in the shower each day. Taking short showers is a habit she has developed from her childhood.
“When I was growing up, there were droughts all of the time,” Eickbush said. “Cutting back on long showers isn’t just good for my wallet; it is good for the environment.”
Eickbush only uses her air conditioning for a few hours a day in the summer. Instead, she runs fans and keeps the windows open.
“I don’t use my air conditioning at all in the night time,” Eickbush said. “It is cheaper to just open a window, since I am asleep anyway.”
Many students, like Eickbush, don’t have the option to completely turn off their heat in the winter. Some apartment complexes, houses and condominiums require tenants to keep the heat above a certain temperature to prevent the pipes from freezing.
Sara Triplett, a mathematics major from El Dorado Hills, California, also applies her passion for the environment to save on her utilities bill.
“Turning off the lights in my apartment is so easy, especially during the day or when nobody is home,” Triplett said. “It helps cut down my bill, but it also decreases my carbon footprint.”
Although cutting electricity and heat usage is good for the environment, it can often lead to contention among roommates.
Madi Mills, a global supply chain management major from Alpharetta, Georgia, struggles with the heating in her apartment in the winter.
“Saving on utilities is great, but I’m not really used to the snow, so I get freezing in the winter,” Mills said. “It is hard when you disagree with some of your roommates who are willing to completely turn off the heat to save money.”
Questar Gas has several recommendations on its website for people looking to save money. Some of these include turning the thermostat down at night in the winter, making sure air vents are unobstructed, reducing the temperature setting on the water heater and always running full loads of laundry.
Robbie Lamb, the utility billing manager at Provo Power, encourages students who are looking to save money to talk to their roommates about utilities expectations.
“Communication between roommates saves money,” Lamb said.
Allen and her husband are willing to give up comfort to save money. They save more than $50 each month by not using their heater and air conditioner.
“Giving up comfort is ok,” Allen said. “I like having the extra money to save or use on a fun date night.”
Although saving money is nice, they do notice some problems with their lifestyle. They love hosting game nights with their friends, but in the summer and winter their apartment temperature is too extreme to have people over.
Allen said that although some days are hard, the measures they have taken to save on their utilities bill have been worth it.
“If you are a poor, struggling married couple, I would totally recommend it,” Allen said.