At some point, you’ve probably looked down at your electric bill and wondered why it was so high. Surely, charging your phone every night or leaving a light on all day can’t cost that much. What can you do to save money on your electric bill?
Well, the first thing to know is that there are many things that can cause a high electric bill. And while the amount of electricity you use makes a big difference, your electric provider and rate plan matter, too. Either way, when you add all the potential ways to reduce your bill, there’s often a big opportunity for saving money without sacrificing comfort.
7 Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill
One of the first steps to lowering your electric bill is to get an idea of how much electricity you’re using and where it’s being used. This can be done fairly simply and just requires you to audit your energy use. “Audit” might sound like a big, formal process, but all it really takes is for you to look at your recent statements and perform some personal analysis on your household’s electricity use.
Walk through each room in your home and take inventory of where the electricity is being used. What devices are in each room? Which ones are plugged in? Which ones are turned on? How often are they used? Are they used in a manner that’s deliberately efficient? In that respect, is there room to improve? The purpose of this article is to provide some actionable tips you can use to lower your electric bill.
1. Turn Off the Lights
It turns out that this little instruction has a lot of truth and isn’t simply something that parents yell to their kids from one side of the house to the other. Keeping the lights on when they don’t need to be is an electricity hog. And depending on which light bulbs you’re using (if you haven’t, it’s time to switch to LED lights), the waste can be enormous.
Consider this, a 40-watt bulb requires 0.04 kWh per hour. If you pay 10 cents per hour, you’ll save $0.004 for every hour the light is off. Doesn’t sound like much but do it with five lights for 10 hours every day and that’ll save $6/mo. If you turn off more lights for longer, the cost savings will be even higher. So, listen to your elders and turn out the lights!
2. Know When to Use
Some electric plans have varying pricing for peak and off-peak hours. Nights and weekends are one price, while weekdays might be different. While monthly plans like these are often marketed very attractively, it can be easy for your usage to not quite match up with those peak and off-peak hours and a high bill to result.
If your plan is set up like that, tailor your habits so that you use it to your advantage. Do your energy-intensive tasks like charging an electric car or washing clothes during the off-peak hours when the electricity is cheapest. And if your lifestyle isn’t really cut out for scheduling those things, consider signing up for a different electric plan.
3. Cut the Phantom Power
Did you know that some devices can pull electricity even when they’re not being used? Modems, routers, computer equipment, TVs and more all draw power when they’re not on. Often referred to as “phantom power,” this unused draw can be quite significant. By some estimates, these “energy vampires” can cost a household $100 in wasted electricity every year.
The biggest way to cut your phantom power use is to simply unplug devices that aren’t being used. All of them. If you have all your electrical equipment plugged into one surge protection unit, that’s easier to plug than many individual cables. But even if you don’t, start a habit of unplugging devices that you’re not actively using. When you shut things down for the night, don’t just flip the switch — pull the plug.
4. Optimize Your House
Between the heating and cooling systems, refrigerator, and many other power draws that quietly exist in the background, every home has a baseline energy use. All of these essential functions deserve evaluation when you’re looking for ways to cut costs. There are often energy-efficient options and accessories that can help to optimize your home.
If you haven’t made the switch to LED light bulbs, that’s a fast and easy upgrade. Replace the filters on your HVAC system regularly and if there are any air leaks within the system or between exterior windows and doors, seal them up to keep cold air from getting in and to reduce heat loss. Are your units Energy Star? Upgrading can save money every month and a significant amount over the unit’s lifespan.
5. Get a Programmable Thermostat
Along with turning off the lights, dialing back the thermostat is a favorite tried and true method for easily saving at least 10% on your electricity use per year. And with that, one of the most popular tech gadgets to hit the market in recent memory is a programmable thermostat. There’s an initial investment required, but the people who’ve made it will swear that it’s worth it.
These units are manageable from your phone and allow you much better control over the climate in your home, especially when you’re not home. Many people find that a programmable thermostat provides significant savings on heating and cooling costs while having almost no effect whatsoever on their daily comfort. If you haven’t looked into these, do it!
6. Lower the Hot Water Heater
If the hottest water setting that comes out of your faucet produces water that’s too hot, then your water heater could be set to high temperature. Turning it down just ten degrees could save three to five percent on your electricity and nearly a hundred dollars per year on your bill. And since you were never using the water that got that hot anyway, it wouldn’t affect your life at all.
It’s also worth mentioning that not only does hot water unnecessarily use too much electricity, but it also presents a significant safety hazard. People are burned and scalded every year from water that comes out of the faucet. It’s just better to avoid that situation, and it’s not hard to turn down the water heater, but if it’s a chore you’re not up for yourself, get a professional to help you out.
7. Wash Clothes When the Load Is Full
The average household does anywhere from eight to ten loads of laundry per week. How does that compare to what happens at your house? If you find that you’re doing laundry more often, or you’re running the washer with less than a full load, you probably have an opportunity to implement a few strategies to optimize your use.
The most important thing is to wait until you have a full load to use the washing machine. The cost for a large load is the same for a small, so make it worthwhile. Additionally, try to couple that habit with other smart habits for reducing laundry costs — use cold water instead of hot to reduce electricity use from the water heater, run during off-peak hours if your plan has them, and upgrade units to high efficiency (HE) models.
Get Started in Lowering Your Own Electric Bill
You really can reduce your own household energy bill by starting a few new good habits, breaking some of the lesser ones, and investing into energy efficient appliances when replacement time comes. Many of these strategies are relatively easy and won’t impact your lifestyle at all. Think, however, what you can do with the extra money and get started!