How to Lower Your Electric Bill
Sure, you can start by not consuming energy if you’re not in a room in your home. For instance, turn off your lights and the TV if you’re not in the room. You could also bump up the temperature on hot days or lower the temperature on cold days by a few degrees to conserve energy. But we bet you’ve never thought of these tricks to save energy and lower your utility bills.
Take an Energy Audit
The Department of Energy suggests doing a home energy assessment, known as an energy audit. When you do an energy audit, you learn the energy efficiency of your home. You also learn where your home loses energy, any problem areas, and tweaks you can make to your energy usage. You can have a professional come in and assess your home and its energy use. But there are do-it-yourself audits, too. Always treat your energy audit as the first step to energy-saving home improvements, then make needed changes. You’ll be surprised how much you can save by taking the time!
Zap “Energy Vampires,” a.k.a. Ongoing Energy Consumption
Phantom energy or energy vampires include electronics that are turned off but plugged in. Various electronics like TVs and computers and even kitchen appliances raise your electric bill. They drain energy even when they’re turned off. Try unplugging that toaster or stand mixer when not in use. Also, power strips are handy and can easily be turned off when your electronics are not in use.
Invest in Smart Power Strips
In addition to regular power strips, smart power strips are advanced and lower electricity use by anywhere from 20 to 48 percent. Most smart power strips cost $30, which is a small price to pay for year-round savings.
Weatherstripping Goes a Long Way
According to the Department of Energy, proper insulation of your home means a direct reduction in heating and cooling costs. Anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of your home’s energy consumption comes from your home’s heating and cooling. Weatherstripping and insulating your home with ENERGY STAR certified windows could do a lot. Warm air won’t get out, and cold air won’t get in during the winter months.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
When you have complete control over your home’s temperature, you can cut your electric bill without having to think about it. A programmable thermostat helps you use less energy when you’re sleeping or away from home. You could also install a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats know how to conserve energy throughout the day, and you can control them from your smartphone. A smart thermostat also comes in handy because you can program it while you’re away to save on cooling and heating costs.
Install Ceiling Fans
Installing and using ceiling fans throughout your home and even in your attic help circulate your home’s cold airflow. Since ceiling fans help reduce hot air and cool your home faster on hot days, you won’t have to rely on your air conditioner during the summer. Most ceiling fans also help circulate warm airflow in the winter too. That way, you won’t have to crank up the heat on your thermostat and can save on heating costs.
Install Dimmer Switches
Did you know that dimmers lengthen the life of your light bulbs? When you install dimmer switches throughout your home, your household will likely use them. You’ll use less energy that way and won’t have to replace your light bulbs as often, either. Smart lights and switches are also handy and convenient for dimming the lights. And they help save energy since you can control everything from your smartphone.
Switch to LED Light Bulbs
According to the Department of Energy, LED light bulbs are energy efficient. ENERGY STAR-certified LED lights use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. They don’t cost much, and they last longer (especially if you install that dimmer).
Use the Dishwasher
Most people assume that handwashing uses less water and energy than using a dishwasher. But contrary to popular belief, handwashing results in nine times the amount of water being used than for a dishwasher with one full load of dishes. ENERGY STAR-certified dishwashers are 12 percent more efficient than non-certified models. That’s more savings to add to your wallet.
Fill ’em Up
Try to load your dishwasher with a full load of dishes instead of doing many small loads. You can save around three gallons of water per cycle by doing this. You can also save additional energy by ditching the heat cycle on your dishes and drying by hand. Drying by hand doesn’t take long and doesn’t make your dishwasher heat up, using more energy. It’s a win-win!
Using hot water on your washing machine means your home utilities need to make more energy to get to a specific temperature. According to a SaveOnEnergy study, hot water can cost up to $60 per year. The temperature of your washer does not change the effectiveness of getting your clothes clean. Most ENERGY STAR energy-efficient clothes washers clean as well with cold water as they do with hot water. It’s a little saving, but it goes a long way!
Lint in your dryer trap can build up, making it harder for your dryer to do its job and wasting energy. Always scrape out the dryer lint before sticking your clothes in the dryer. And every few months, be sure to clean the dryer trap with soap and water to reduce overworking. Also, you can clean your exhaust with a lint remover kit. It will increase airflow and help your dryer run more efficiently. As a bonus, it will dry your clothes faster.
Change your showerheads
Did you know that you can save more than $25 a year when you install an energy-efficient showerhead? The Department of Energy suggests a showerhead with a flow rate of fewer than 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM). Showerheads before 1992 had flow rates of 5.5 GPM. Test out your showerheads. If it takes less than 20 seconds to fill one to two gallons of water, you could save by installing a low-flow showerhead.
Maintain your HVAC
You might overlook your HVAC and furnace filters. Routinely change or clean air filters for your air conditioner and furnace filters. By doing this, you could save as much as $10 per month on air conditioning costs. The Department of Energy suggests that changing your air filters on your HVAC system can save you around 7.5 percent per month. The ordinary suburban home without pets should change theirs every 90 days. And if you have pets, try to change yours about every 30–60 days, depending on the number of pets you have.
Tankless Water Heatesr
Your hot water heater may be older and could be upping your electricity rates. Want to save up to $100 per year? According to ENERGY STAR, a tankless water heater will save you money in the long run. As a bonus, it also offers a more steady supply of hot water throughout the whole house.
Minimize Use During Peak Hours
According to the EIA, peak electricity consumption comes in cycles throughout the day. The lowest demand is around 5 a.m. and during evening hours. The highest demand for most electric companies comes between those times and 7 a.m to 11 p.m. on weekends.
Check with your utility company to find out its peak hours. Most electric companies post peak hours on their websites. Try to run your dishwasher, your washer and dryer, and other utilities during low-demand hours. You can also bump up the temperature on your thermostat on hot days or down on cold days to save a little more during peak cooling and heating hours.