10 Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill
By Kimberly Martin on 21 March 2014
There’s little that homeowners dread quite as much as receiving their monthly bills in the mail—especially their energy bill. Nowadays, while so many innovative electronics and appliances in the home help make daily life easier and more efficient, they also dig pretty deep into your energy usage. When the temperatures reach extremes in winter and summer seasons, it is even harder to keep the temperature under control and shut off those ceiling fans or oil heaters. That’s why we have compiled a checklist of things you can do to cut down on the electricity used in your home so that, bit by bit, you can fear that monthly bill a little less.
1. If you are planning on purchasing new appliances for your home or are willing to replace the ones you have, Energy Star certified products are the way to go. Appliances with the Energy Star seal of approval will cut down power usage in your home by 15-35%, so it’s a better long-term investment to purchase one of these products.
2. While it’s always nice to have piping hot water running from your faucets and shower heads, letting your water heater maintain a high temperature can eat up energy. Typically homeowners prefer to keep the level at about 140°, but by simply turning it down to 120° instead you can save quite a lot of money—and it’s often better for your hot water heater to avoid reaching such hot temperatures.
3. Invest in a programmable thermostat for your home; they allow you to program the temperature for certain times of day and seasons. With these thermostats the heating and air will automatically change to more cost-efficient levels depending on the time of day, regardless of whether or not you forget to adjust it yourself.
4. Here’s an oldie but goodie it never hurts to remember: during the winter, the best temperature for your home is 68°, and during the summer, it’s 78°. Nearly everyone has heard this before, and they ring quite true for general energy saving. If you own or purchase a programmable thermostat, or can simply remember to change it yourself, you can further adjust the temperature accordingly at night for more savings—just wrap up in blankets or open a window rather than letting the system do all the work.
5. Change your HVAC filters every three months. You’ve probably heard this quite a few times as well, and yet again it is very true—changing out these filters can save you up to $100 a year. Furthermore, keep your home vents clean and open. Many believe that closing up multiple vents in the home will save you money, but the opposite is true—your system will only work harder to regulate the temperature in your entire home by pumping air and heating through the few open vents. Dirty vents cause similar problems, so keep them dusted and clean on a regular basis.
6. Sometimes it pays to do your laundry and run your dishwasher at night. Many power companies will offer discounts on energy payments if customers run significant energy-consuming appliances after peak hours—typically, this means after 8 p.m. It wouldn’t hurt to contact your power company and see if this rings true for you. Waiting until a little later to do a few chores could save you quite a few bucks!
7. Turn off your entertainment electronics when not in use. Televisions, gaming systems, computers—all of these typically remain plugged in and either running or sleeping, which constantly drains electricity. Rather than letting them consume your energy, hook these appliances up to a power strip with a single switch. When you’re home and using these appliances, you can turn them all on at the same time; when you’re going to work for the day or going to bed at night, simply turn them off the same way.
8. Constant, slow drains to your energy usage that can build up over time are cracks and gaps around your windows and door frames. Seal these up with inexpensive caulk or expanding foam from your local hardware store. This prevents your heat or air from escaping and also prevents the cold chills or sweltering heat waves from entering.
9. Install low-wattage lighting in your home and use similarly low-wattage lighting fixtures. These waste less electricity than other lighting units, and they work just as well! Furthermore, use compact fluorescent bulbs in as many fixtures and installed lighting as possible—these bulbs last significantly longer than other bulbs, and they also use 75% less energy. A huge saving!
10. Finally, it never hurts to check up on your home insulation in the attic, the ceiling, and/or the walls. A well-insulated home can save you hundreds by keeping your home well heated and cooled, and using sufficient insulation is one of the best choices a homeowner can make toward lowing their energy bill. Fiberglass insulation is extremely cost-efficient, so if you need to install more insulation or replace what you have, this type of insulation is the way to go.
We hope that by going down this checklist when evaluating your own home, you will find ways that you can lower your power usage and make your monthly bill a little less excruciating. Spring has just arrived, which means in the near future it will begin warming up and you will have to turn off the heating and switch to your air conditioning and begin other habits to keep yourself cool. Don’t let them rack up your energy bill—follow our steps and more. Furthermore, if you think there are other problems in your home energy usage that you yourself cannot locate or handle, a variety of local experts such as electricians, HVAC specialists, and more can help you find a solution.