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How Much Can You Really Save by Turning Off the Lights? We Found the Answer

Yeah, you should flip that switch off when you leave the room.

several unlit bulbs and one lightbulb that is on
Reducing your energy use by turning off your lights is an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Eoneren/Getty Images

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET's collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

We're now in the depths of winter, which probably means you're turning your lights on earlier. But with utility bill prices still on the rise -- increasing by up to 32% nationally -- no matter how you heat and light your home, it's likely costing you more than usual this season. 

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Once you add in increased rents, higher mortgage rates and pricier groceries, you might already be feeling a strain on your wallet. However, there are ways to extend your monthly budget.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to save some money and reduce your energy bill is turning off your lights when you aren't using them. Keep reading to learn why it's important to turn off the lights and how much money this simple habit can save you. (For more, we also recommend investing in a smart thermostatadjusting the temperature of your thermostat and weatherstripping to save extra cash.)

Why turn off your lights?

You've probably been told time and time again the importance of conserving energy, but you might be wondering why it's so important.

First, reducing your energy usage by turning off your lights is an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint. Electricity generation is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. By turning off your lights when you aren't using them, you can do your part to reduce carbon emissions and therefore help the environment.

And reducing your home's energy usage doesn't just help the environment -- it also helps your wallet. Turning off lights when you don't need them can help to reduce your electricity bills. You'll also extend the life of your light bulbs, which will save you money as well.

Buying a smart lightbulb can help you conserve energy by setting your lights to go on and off at certain times -- no more falling asleep with all the lights left on overnight. The inexpensive Wyze bulb is CNET's pick for best smart light.

Read our Wyze Bulb review.

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How much money can you save by turning off the lights?

The amount you can save on your electricity bill by turning off your lights depends on the type of light bulb you use. You can figure your potential savings using the light bulb's wattage. 

Let's say you have a light bulb that's 40 watts, meaning that in one hour, the bulb will use 0.04 kWh. Then, you can use your electricity price -- which you can find on your most recent utility bill -- to figure out how much you'll save for that hour. In the case of the 40-watt bulb, if you pay an electricity rate of 10 cents per kWh, your savings by turning that bulb off for one hour would be 0.4 cents. 

Now, it's easy to see that number and think it's simply not worth it to turn off your lights more often. After all, what difference does 0.4 cents make?

First, remember that estimate is for a 40-watt bulb. If you have higher-wattage light bulbs, then the savings will be greater. Next, that estimate uses an energy price of 10 cents per kWh, but in many areas, the price of electricity may be higher than that.

Finally, our estimate looked at the savings of turning off one bulb for one hour. You likely have many light bulbs in your house, and there are far more than just one hour in a month. So when you calculate the savings of turning off all of your light bulbs for many more hours per month, your savings will increase significantly.

A small change can yield big savings in the long run

Turning off your lights when you aren't using them is one of the most basic steps you can take to reduce your energy usage and save money on your electricity bill. Just remember that even a small change can add up to big energy savings for you and also help reduce your carbon footprint.

More money-saving tips for you