Renters and homeowners both groan at the same issue every month: paying the electric bill.
The U.S. Department of Energy says the average American pays over $2,000 every year for electricity, so it’s not hard to see why.
Here’s the bad news: electricity prices show zero signs of decreasing.
“Between 2005 and October of 2015, residential electricity prices increased by 34%,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
And states like Colorado experienced electricity rate hikes as high as 67% between that same time.
There are so many factors affecting the rising costs of energy that are completely out of your control. Where you live, the utility company you use, the size of your home — most of these can’t be changed.
So what can you actually do to lower your electricity bill?
Today we’ll be sharing 12+ of our favorite money-saving energy tips to help you take back control of your budget.
Can you eliminate your electricity bill completely with solar energy? Click the banner below to download our free guide to find out:
1. Finally Make the Switch to LED Light Bulbs Already
LEDs used to be way more expensive, but since they’ve come down so low in price, it’s literally a waste of money using your traditional or CFL bulbs now.
LEDs use a fraction of the energy other bulbs do yet they provide better, brighter light for your home.
So start by replacing your energy-draining bulbs that burn out with new LEDs. Swap out 40 incandescent bulbs (the average amount of light bulbs in the American house) for LEDs and you’ll save roughly $300 a year in energy costs.
2. Give Your Thermostat the Smart Home Treatment
Installing a smart thermostat like a Nest can save an average of 15% on cooling costs, and 10–12% on heating.
These smart thermostats learn the temperatures you like and then heat and cool around your schedule. Since you can control them remotely from your phone, you’ll never pay to cool or heat an empty house unless you want to.
If you’re still setting your thermostat manually, program it around 78°F in the summer and 68°F in the winter when you’re not home.
3. Plant Some Shade Near Your House
Trees and shrubs that provide shady greenery in front of sunny windows or over your roof will cool your home the natural way.
4. Seal Up Those Drafty Windows
If new windows aren’t in the budget, you can still seal your windows with extra weatherstripping to prevent cold air from getting into warmed rooms, or hot air causing your A/C to run all day.
5. Invest in Blinds or Curtains
Though drawing the blinds or closing the curtains may make your rooms darker, it costs a lot less to turn on an LED lamp than it does to run your heat or A/C.
Your curtains will block sunlight so you stay cool in the summer and keep your rooms toasty in the winter by blocking drafty cold air.
6. Check Your Water Heater’s Setting
Most water heaters warm up the water in your tank even if you’re not using it. This constant heating is responsible for a whopping 18% of your home’s electricity usage.
Chances are you don’t need the hottest water to take your showers (it’s actually drying for your skin!) or do your dishes. So set your water heater temperature to around 120 degrees and watch the savings roll in.
7. Caulk or Foam-Seal All Your Recessed Lighting Fixtures (and electrical outlets)
This extra insulation will keep hot attic air out of your cooled living spaces (and cold air out of your warm rooms) so you run your HVAC less.
8. Properly Winterize Your Home
Living in an area ravaged by winter means your wallet also takes a beating with heating costs.
Follow these tips and you won’t let Ol’ Man Winter get you this year:
- Though you or your family may be tempted to hang out in t-shirts and athletic shorts with the heat running, bundle up in sweatshirts, heavier pants, and fuzzy socks so you don’t have to raise the heat as high.
- Run your ceiling fans clockwise to bring the warm air down and send the cold air up where you don’t need it. You’ll be warmed at a fraction of the price of heating the same area.
- Replace your furnace filters and you’ll also improve your energy efficiency.
- Add rugs or carpets to your floor to trap in heat escaping through your cement, concrete, or wood floors.
- Cook more meals at home and you’ll run the oven and stove, which both heat up the house for you.
- Add an extra blanket to your bed or couches during Netflix and chill time and it’s usually all you need to take down the thermostat a few degrees and save some cash.
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9. Follow these Steps for an Energy Efficient Pool
Residential pools use an average of 9–14 billion kWh of electricity every year in the U.S.
Though fun during the summer, the energy costs of owning a pool can easily tip your budget. Compared to homeowners without pools, homeowners and renters with pools pay an average of:
- 49% more in electricity
- 19% more in natural gas
- $500+ in energy bills
Cover your pool to shield it from energy losses due to evaporation and radiation. You’ll reduce your heating costs by almost 50% too.
If your pool is temperature-controlled, every degree you decrease that temperature represents a 10% decrease in your energy costs.
10. Get to Know Your Home’s Biggest Energy Drainers
As you saw earlier, your water heater is responsible for a big chunk of your electric bill. But what about the other appliances draining your budget?
When you know which of your appliances or devices consumes the most energy, you’ll know where to start trimming your fat.
This chart from the U.S. Department of Energy shows just how much energy the most common appliances use every year:
This graph says it costs more to run your clothes dryer, on average, than your dishwasher. However, it’s more expensive to keep your TV on than run your washing machine. #TIL.
Keep in mind that these stats are based on national averages and will vary according to where you live and the types of appliances you have.
You should upgrade all your appliances to those certified with the ENERGY STAR logo. Start with your most-used appliances first (like your refrigerator) for the biggest savings.
You can also find plug-in devices to add to your electrical panel to see how much power you’re using, and ones used to monitor the energy efficiency of your appliances, like your clothes dryer.
Knowing this information, let’s go over a few of the best ways to conserve energy with your everyday appliances:
Run Your Refrigerator at Maximum Efficiency
This means setting the temperature to 37°F for the fridge and 0°F for the freezer. No need to set these any lower as you’ll only be wasting money.
Never overfill your refrigerator. You need room for cold air to circulate or everything will stay warm and your fridge will kick into high gear.
Keep your fridge about 75% full instead. This gives you enough circulating room to let your items get and stay cold so it runs less.
You’ll also want to clean those coils on the outside of your fridge every season. These will help your fridge work at optimal efficiency.
Don’t Overwork Your Dishwasher
Always scrape off food and debris from your dishes, silverware, and glasses so you don’t have to send them through the ultra-heavy duty power cycle — which eats up extra time, energy, water, and soap.
Only run your dishwasher when it’s totally full to get the most out of every cycle (since they’re expensive). Using shorter eco-friendly cycles will cut your costs.
Turn off the heated dry setting and you’ll cut your dishwasher’s electricity usage by up to 50%. Set it to air dry on its own or turn off your dishwasher after the last rinse cycle and open the door yourself.
[bctt tweet=”Cut your electric bills and your cost of switching to solar energy also decreases:” username=”1stLightSolar”]
Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water Only
Close to 90% of your washing machine’s energy costs stem from heating the water for a warm or hot wash cycle. So skip the heated water and wash everything on cold.
After your water heater, your clothes dryer eats up the biggest chunk of your electric bill. Line- or air-dry your clothes instead to cut out this huge expense.
If you still need to throw your clothes in the dryer, just make sure to leave enough room for air to circulate freely so your clothes dry faster (which saves you money).
Don’t forget to clean the lint trap!
Clumps of lint not only hamper your dryer’s efficiency and make every load take longer (and cost more), they’re also a serious fire hazard.
Boost Your AC’s Efficiency
Since this is the biggest drain on your budget, you want to get your A/C consumption as lean as possible.
Dirty filters can damage your expensive unit and cause it to work harder than it should to cool and pump air throughout your home. The longer it takes to cool down, the more you’re spending in electricity.
So clean or replace your air filters every month.
11. Run Your Major Appliances Only at Night
Many utility companies have separate rates for what’s called “peak times”. This happens when there’s a steady demand from people and businesses on the grid for electricity.
You may notice your electricity rate is higher during these peak times. However, wait until off-peak hours and you’ll be charged a whole lot less for the same energy your home uses.
You’ll need to find out if your utility company charges differently for peak time energy use (and ask when those hours are). Other electric companies charge an average rate all the time which combines both peak and off-peak rates.
12. Get Rid of Phantom Energy Zappers
Because even though your computer, coffee grinder, or blow dryer isn’t on, it’s still drawing energy from the outlet, which you’re paying for.
Take a peek at this infographic to find out which appliances are draining your electricity like a vampire in the middle of the night:
Unplug all your devices or use a protected power strip to turn everything off at once. You’ll eliminate phantom energy zappers from your monthly electricity bill for small gains.
Your refrigerator and freezer should be the only (non-medical) appliances plugged in 24/7.
Don’t worry: all these energy-efficient steps you take will pay off big in the end.
The More Energy-Efficient Your Home Is, the Less You Have to Offset with Solar Energy
Most homeowners want to switch to solar energy, but they think the cost of their solar panel installation will cost too much.
Here’s the good news: Cut your electric bills and your cost of switching to solar energy also decreases.
If your house consumes $300/month in electricity, you’d need to install solar panels to provide at least that amount of energy. But if your energy bill is only half of that, say $150/month, you’d need fewer solar panels, which ultimately cuts the price of your installation.
You can fit solar into your budget with a few smart, strategic swaps for greater energy efficiency and conservation.
When you’ve done your part to lower your electricity bills, call us in and let us do ours. We may be able to completely eliminate your electricity bills with solar energy.
Learn more about the financial rewards of switching to solar energy by downloading our free guide now!
For more helpful money-saving tips, check out this infographic of the best ways to reduce your electricity bill before you leave: