Did you know that the average electric bill in the United States is over $100 per month? It’s true – and a high electric bill isn’t only hard on your wallet. The energy waste that’s often the cause of that high bill is hard on the environment as well.
Now, saving energy doesn’t mean sitting in the dark in your living room or allowing your dirty laundry and dishes to pile up. It simply means using less energy to do your normal tasks.
Don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it might sound. Listed below are 10 tips for reducing your energy costs, from small, inexpensive changes to larger home renovations.
So regardless of your budget, you should have a few energy saving ideas to use when you reach the end of this list. Let’s get started!
1. Inventory Your Behaviors
Before you spend a dime or make any changes to your home, it’s important to take an honest inventory of your behaviors in terms of energy usage. Do you leave lights on when you leave a room? Do you run the heat or air conditioning more than necessary?
One of the most effective methods of reducing energy bills is to run your heat and air conditioner less. This is because the cost to heat and cool your home typically makes up half of your total electric bill.
That said, don’t feel like you have to freeze in the winter or boil in the summer. Adjusting the temperature of your home a few degrees to decrease the load on your HVAC unit can make more of a change than you might think.
If you’re not sure what makes up the majority of the cost in your home, in particular, contact your electric company. Many offer a free service in which a representative will come to your home to inspect and determine which appliances are using the most electricity. They can also check your insulation and point out any potential air leakages.
2. Ditch the Incandescent Bulbs
Another simple, inexpensive change you can make that will make a world of difference is swapping your incandescent light bulbs for more energy-efficient options. Some excellent choices include halogen incandescent bulbs, light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs), and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).
Depending on how many lights you have in your home, this could take some time. However, it will be well worth the effort in the end, as these bulbs use anywhere from 25-80% less electricity.
When you’re purchasing your bulbs, you’ll notice that the energy-efficient options are slightly more expensive. But keep in mind that these bulbs last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs and will be gentler on your energy bill. So in the long run, they’re much more cost-effective.
3. Use a Programmable Thermostat
If you’re away from your home often, or you find that remembering to adjust your thermostat is a hassle, a programmable thermostat could be for you. This can be a huge money-saver, as it doesn’t require you to upgrade your HVAC system.
Rather than having to be set manually, programmable thermostats allow you to create a schedule and will adjust itself accordingly.
Let’s say you leave for work at 8 am, arrive home at 6 pm, and go to sleep at 11 pm. You can set your thermostat to raise the temperature when you’re not home, lower it just before you arrive, and lower it a little more so it’s a comfortable sleeping temperature in your home when you’re ready for bed.
Other features of higher quality thermostats include notifications for filter replacements and problems with your HVAC unit. You can also purchase a smart programmable thermostat that you can control right from your cellphone.
4. Install Power Strips
Believe it or not, you probably have a vampire in your home at this very moment. Yes, some of our favorite electronic devices are energy vampires, which create phantom electricity loads. This means they’re always drawing power, even when you aren’t using them.
Seemingly harmless devices such as computer and phone chargers, televisions, cable boxes, gaming consoles, audio systems, and desktop computers might be adding hundreds to your yearly energy costs.
For example, say you just bought a brand new laptop from lenovo.com. For convenience’s sake, you decide that you’ll leave the charger plugged in behind your desk, regardless of whether or not you need it.
Well, that charger will add about six dollars to your yearly expenses, which doesn’t seem like much, right? But when you add up the various chargers and other electronics that never leave their outlet, you could be looking at a much higher amount.
Fear not, you don’t have to sacrifice convenience to save money. All you have to do is install power strips where you tend to plug in your electronics. That way, when you’re done using them, you can switch off the power strip rather than unplugging everything. This will stop the energy vampires in their tracks!
5. Pay Attention to Water Heating Expenses
Do you know how much of your electric bill can be attributed to water heating? Chances are, it’s a major contributor. If you’re unsure of how much heating the water in your is costing you, this energy cost calculator can give you a rough idea.
There are four methods of reducing your water heating costs. They include: using less hot water, insulating your water heater and pipes, turning down the temperature on your water heater, and purchasing a new one altogether.
How do you use less hot water? Well, you could try taking shorter showers or using your dishwasher instead of hand washing dishes if you have an efficient dishwasher.
And surprisingly, cold water is better for your clothes than hot. Using cold water will preserve the colors of your clothes and help them to last longer. The only thing that should be washed in hot water is towels and sheets.
If you’re looking into purchasing a new water heater, there are two things you should look for. You need to choose the type that suits your needs and consider the type of fuel it requires.
Tankless water heaters, for example, are great for those with small families, as they’re highly energy efficient but incapable of handling more than one use of hot water at a time.
6. Replace Your Windows
If your home has single-pane, old, or low-quality windows, you could be raising your monthly energy bills by 10-25%. To combat potential heat and air loss from your windows, consider replacing them with high-quality, double-paned windows.
Depending on the climate in which you live, you’ll need to look for certain qualities in your windows. For those who live in cooler climates, look for gas-filled windows with low-E coatings. These will reduce your heating costs significantly. You should also look into installing interior or exterior storm windows to further reduce cost.
For those living in warmer climates, those same low-E coatings can reduce heat gain by reflecting light, thereby reducing the load on your air conditioner. It’s also a good idea to invest in shutters, awnings, and window shades to reduce the amount of direct sunlight that comes into your home.
7. Install Energy Efficient Appliances
It’s no surprise that appliances often take up a significant portion of monthly energy use. It’s understandable if you don’t have the budget to replace all of your appliances at once. However, as your appliances run out of steam, they should be replaced with energy-efficient options.
Regardless of which appliance you’re shopping for, pay close attention to two factors: the purchase price and the annual operating cost. As with lightbulbs, energy-efficient appliances might cost more upfront but will pay for themselves in terms of lower energy usage and longer lifespan.
Look for the energy star label before you make your purchase. This is a federal guarantee that your chosen appliance will consume less energy than standard models, both in use and when on standby.
Your specific energy savings will depend on the appliance. Washing machines with the energy star certification consume 25% less energy while energy star refrigerators use 9% less energy than conventional options.
Lower Your Electric Bill by Saving Energy
Saving energy isn’t only good for the environment but can save you tons on your electric bill as well!
And as you can see, while there are more expensive options, you might find that all you need to do is make a few minor adjustments in your day-to-day habits. If you do go with one of the pricier options, know that it will raise the value of your property, more often than not making it a wise investment.
For more money-saving tips and tricks, be sure to take a look at our blog!