Finding ways to lower your electric bill is a smart move. It’s a recurring expense that can take up a lot of your budget. By seizing every opportunity to reduce this ongoing cost, you can save a ton over the course of your life.
Luckily, many energy-saving moves aren’t inconvenient. Plus, many are inexpensive – or completely free – to implement. If you want to spend less every month, here are ten ways to lower your electric bill.
1. Unplug Your Energy Vampires
Some electronics still draw electricity even when you aren’t actively using them. Nicknamed “energy vampires,” they draw varying amounts of power simply because they are plugged in, even if they are in “standby” or a similar mode. As a result, these devices and appliances can have a significant impact on your electricity bill, especially when you have many of them plugged in all day, every day.
Classic examples of energy vampires include:
- Gaming Systems
- Cable Boxes
- Phone Charges
- And more
Usually, anything with a display that’s always on, such as a clock you can use even when the device isn’t completely on, could be an energy vampire. Additionally, anything that is instant-on with a remote often qualifies.
By unplugging your energy vampires, you can reduce your electricity consumption significantly. The exact amount of savings will depend on the number of devices or appliances, your local utility rates, and how much energy they draw when in standby mode. But you may be able to save up to 10% on your electric bill.
You can also save money by investing in smart power strips. These stop the phantom draw when the device isn’t in use, reducing your energy consumption without having to physically unplug the devices.
2. Seal and Insulate for Energy Efficiency
Cracks around doors and windows and poor insulation can have a substantial impact on your energy bill. By air sealing your home and bumping up your insulation, you may be able to snag a savings of around 15% on your heating and cooling expenses.
Begin by examining your windows and doors. See if the caulk is damaged and, if so, replace it. Similarly, look for light coming in around your exterior doors. If you see any, you might need new weatherstripping or door sweeps, allowing you to block the gaps.
Insulation can be a bit trickier to assess, depending on the type and location. The standards for blown, batt, rolled, and spray foam insulation are all different. Plus, different versions of each kind of insulation may have different R-values, also altering how much you need.
Before you start adding new insulation, research what’s currently in place. That way, you can determine if you need to add more to meet energy-efficiency standards, as well as whether you need to remove any existing insulation before you put anything new in place.
3. Use Colder Water Whenever Possible
Electric hot water heaters use quite a bit of energy overall. However, the amount of power they need to heat water is usually higher than is required to maintain the temperature of water in the tank after it’s heated.
By using colder water whenever possible, you can reduce your electricity costs. Wash your laundry with cold water unless warm or hot is genuinely required. If you do dishes by hand, keep the water cooler then, too. Taking colder showers also makes a difference.
Similarly, turning the temperature on your hot water heater down saves electricity. Usually, manufacturers default to 140°F, a temperature that isn’t just higher than necessary but one that could also be a safety hazard.
Shifting down to 120°F isn’t just safer, it’s more energy efficient. You could save up to 22% of its energy cost, depending on the hot water heater you use. The tanks won’t have to reach or maintain the same amount of heat after the change. As a result, it takes less electricity to keep it running.
4. Rethink How You Dry Clothing
If you want to lower your electricity bill, rethink how you dry clothing after it’s washed. If you want to use a dryer, choose a lower temperature. When you don’t use high heat, it costs less to run the dryer.
Additionally, only use heat-based drying settings at night. Since the heat radiates off of the dryer, it can put additional strain on your air conditioning system during warm months. By waiting until nighttime when the outside temperature is cooler, it reduces the strain.
During the winter, using heat-based dryer settings warms your home when it’s the coldest outside. As a result, your heating system doesn’t have to work as hard to heat your home.
However, if the weather is nice outside or your home is at a moderate temperature, consider skipping the dryer entirely. By air-drying your clothes on a line outside or a rack in a spare room, you eliminate all of the energy costs of running your dryer. Plus, it may help your clothing last longer, which can save you even more money.
5. Install a Programmable Thermostat
If you want to keep your heating and cooling costs down, a programmable thermostat can make a real difference. You can set different temperatures depending on the time, day, and season, allowing you to reduce your energy use strategically.
One way that people use programmable thermostats to save is to adjust the temperature of their home when they aren’t there. For example, instead of cooling your house to 72°F all day, you could bump it up to 78°F while you’re at work. Then, you can shift it back to a lower temperature right before you’d get back home, allowing you to stay comfortable while saving energy during the middle of the day.
You could also set up the thermostat to keep your house cooler during the winter while you’re sleeping. Then, you can schedule it to bring the temperature up to something more comfortable right before you get up, allowing you to enjoy the start of your day without an unnecessary chill.
Usually, the savings will offset the cost of installing the thermostat fairly quickly. Plus, programmable thermostats have long lifespans, allowing you to continue to capture cost reductions with minimal effort for years, if not decades, to come.
6. Go with Smart LED Lights
Switching all of your light bulbs to LEDs can result in a significant savings on its own. An LED uses less energy to operate than incandescent versions, so you could see bill reductions just by making that switch.
However, if you go the extra mile and choose smart LEDs, you may have the opportunity for more savings. When you connect the bulbs to your home network, you can typically control them using a convenient smartphone app. With that connection, you can turn the lights on and off remotely, as well as schedule them to come on or turn off in advance.
One of the benefits of the remote connectivity is that you can make sure that all of your lights are off when they aren’t in use. You can check them from work or school, making changes with a simple tap. Plus, you can leave the lights off all day but turn them on before arriving home at night. That way, you don’t have to worry about returning to a dark house.
7. Replace HVAC Air Filters Regularly
A dirty HVAC air filter taxes your heating and cooling system, causing it to use far more energy to operate. By replacing your filters more frequently, you ensure greater efficiency, leading to a lower electric bill. In most cases, HVAC air filters are incredibly inexpensive. Plus, you can buy them in bulk, reducing the per-filter cost even more.
How often you should change your HVAC filter could depend on a number of factors, including air conditions in your area, how much you’re using the system, the kind of filter you’re using, and more. However, making a switch every month or two is usually a smart move if operational efficiency is your primary goal.
8. Adjust Your Blinds
Blinds on your windows can actually play a big role in lowering your electric bill. By keeping them shut, they can keep cold air out in the winter and hot air out in the summer.
Plus, by adjusting the angle, you can make them more effective. During the summer, you want the tops close to the windows, covering them with the bottom of the piece above. That directs warm air out, helping to keep your home cooler.
In the winter, the opposite position is best. By switching the blind angle, warm air stays inside, helping to keep your home more comfortable while lowering your energy use.
Even if you only leave the blinds fully closed when you aren’t at home, it can make a difference. So, consider shutting them when you’re at work or school, allowing you to use less energy while you’re home is empty.
9. Get an Energy Audit
Many utility companies will actually give you personalized suggestions to help you lower your electricity costs. If you’re a homeowner, your local electricity provider may be able to conduct an energy audit for free. During the appointment, they’ll examine various aspects of your home and look for areas where improvements could be made.
Usually, the energy audit will reveal air leaks or spots where your insulation is low. Along the way, they’ll identify problem areas and give you suggestions about how you can fix the problems. However, you may get a variety of other suggestions beyond air sealing and insulating tips, allowing you to get expert advice at no cost to you.
10. Shop Around
If you live in a deregulated market, you can usually choose between several electricity providers. By comparing the rate plans available through the various local utility services, you may be able to find a rate that reduces what you owe each month.
As you research your options, review any contract details carefully. Term lengths can vary significantly, ranging from 12 months to three years, usually.
Additionally, how you’re charged can vary. Some contracts involve flat-fee pricing, charging you a set amount to have access to a specific number of kWh. If you use less than your allotment, you still pay for all of the allotted kWh. However, if you go over the allotment, the cost per kWh can go up dramatically.
Others don’t use flat-fee pricing. With those, you’ll pay for each kWh used, ensuring you don’t pay for the electricity you didn’t need. However, there are still limits for the most favorable rates and, if you exceed the contracted kWh total in a given period, the price per kWh also rises significantly.
It’s also important to note that wholesale electricity prices can surge, resulting in shockingly high bills. The most prime example of this occurred in Texas in early 2021, when a winter storm caused electricity prices to spike. Make sure to review your contracts to see how wholesale price changes impact your cost, allowing you to anticipate sudden increases should uncommon weather events occur.
Ultimately, all of the tips above are great ways to lower your electric bill. By using several of them together, you may be able to make a large dent in one of your recurring expenses, freeing up space in your budget for other things.