How To Lower Your Electricity Bill
There are countless articles compiling random energy-saving tips to help lower your electric bill.
This page is not one of them.
Instead, this guide is an actionable strategy you can use to make the biggest impact possible on your electric bill. It all starts with understanding what’s consuming the most energy in your home.
- To best save money on your electricity bill, cut usage on what uses the most energy in your home.
- In the average home, heating (29%) and cooling (17%) use the most energy.
- If you live in a deregulated energy state, switching electricity suppliers may be the easiest way to lower your electric bill.
The Best Way To Lower Your Electricity Bill
Start with the biggest energy consumers.
To make as big an impact as possible, we need to understand that certain things that take up more energy than others. If you really want to save, go after the biggest energy consumers first.
Energystar.gov lets us know what uses the most energy in the average American household:
- Heating: 29%
- Cooling: 17%
- Water Heating: 14%
- Appliances: 13%
- Lighting: 12%
- Other: 11%
- Electronics: 4%
Your actual usage may vary. The climate you live in has a large impact on your heating and cooling use. But the average is a good place to start.
Usually, homes heat with natural gas, electricity, or fuel oil. So heating may not be a part of your electric bill.
Either way, you can still use these tactics to save money on heat.
Lower Your Heat Usage
Every place will be different, but try to keep the room temperature as low as comfortably possible. An extra layer or two of clothing can help.
You can test this by lowering it one degree each day until you are too cold. After that, go back up a degree. If you find that you are comfortable again, you have found a solid temperature for you.
When nobody is home, lower the thermostat to 55° F to maximize your energy savings. If you are gone for regular intervals throughout the week, you can use a programmable thermostat to lower the temperature when you are gone or have a smart thermostat do it for you.
Check For Leaks
Inspect your doors and windows on a regular basis to check for air leaks. If there are any, make sure you seal it with caulk or have a professional come out and do it.
Use Your Windows/Glass To Your Advantage
There are two ways you can take advantage of your home’s windows for saving energy:
- If you are planning to replace your windows, get high-efficiency ones. These usually two-pane or three-pane windows that insulate your house better.
- If you have the sun directly hitting some of your windows, open the blinds and allow the sun to heat the room and take the pressure off your heating system.
Cooling is the second largest item on your electric bill, but if you live in a warmer climate, it is most likely the largest.
Many of the heating techniques described above will work for cooling as well. They just have to be slightly altered.
Lower Air Conditioning Usage
Flip the technique described in the heating section. Turn it up a degree every day until you are too hot, then down a degree to find the highest comfortable temperature.
You can turn your air conditioning off when you leave, but be careful depending on how hot it is (especially if you have pets in the home).
Also, a hotter house means the fridge has to work harder. If it is pushed too hard, it could break. If you want to make sure that does not happen, set your air conditioning to 86° F while you are away.
Use Your (light-colored) Curtains To Your Advantage
Light-colored curtains reflect sunlight and therefore reflect heat. So if you have sunlight directly hitting your window, close the blinds to help reflect the sun’s heat away.
Open Windows When Possible
Airflow over air conditioning any day. This can be especially beneficial at night when it is cooler.
Use A Portable AC Unit
If you are in a small area of your house for most of the day, get a portable window unit.
This way, you don’t have to waste energy cooling the entire house when you don’t need it.
Stay In The Basement
Your basement is the coolest place in your home. If you don’t have an issue with it, you can stay down there to avoid the summer heat. Then you can turn down the air conditioning.
Most water heaters are powered by gas, but there are some electric water heaters as well. Again, these methods will work either way.
Lower The Temperature
When hot water tanks are installed, they are usually set to 140°F. You can likely turn this down to 120°F without noticing any difference.
If you do notice a difference, you can always turn the water temperature back up.
Insulate the Tank
Just like your house, your water tank will lose heat due to poor insulation. Insulating the tank will help your water heater from having to work as hard.
Use Cold Water When Possible
You may not be willing to take cold showers, but using cold water when you are brushing your teeth or doing laundry can help you cut back on that electricity bill.
Your appliances are your washers, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, etc.
To save energy on home appliances, find the right ones and use them sparingly.
Get The Right Appliances
Nowadays most appliances give you estimates on how much each one will cost in a year. Choose energy-efficient models when you purchase them.
You can compare energy-efficient models by comparing their ENERGY STAR ratings. Appliance stores usually have these numbers displayed next to the unit.
Cutting Back Appliance Usage
There are a few simple steps you can take to cut back on appliance usage:
- Don’t leave the fridge door open longer than you need to.
- Use the dishwasher only when it is full.
- Adjust the water level on the washer depending on the size of the load.
- Hang dry clothes, either through a clothesline or a collapsible drying rack.
At 12% of the total energy usage, lighting is right behind appliances. Even though it is not the largest source of energy consumption in the home, consuming less through your lighting can be an easy way to lower your electricity bill.
Switch To LED Light Bulbs
LED light bulbs are more energy-efficient than traditional light bulbs, using only a quarter of the energy and lasting up to 25 times longer.
Certain LED bulbs can also be programmed to turn on and off with timers, so you don’t leave one on all night.
Switch Lights Off
When you are not using your lights, turn them off.
Use Window Light
Use natural light in place of light bulbs whenever possible.
This could be anything that does not fall into the other categories. Energystar.gov uses dehumidifiers and game consoles as examples.
These “other” items for you could be anything. However, you can use an energy monitor to see how much power these random items take up. You may find that random item you were using was taking up much more energy than you expected.
Electronics take up the smallest percentage of home energy consumption, but when you are trying to do everything you can to save money on your electric bill, all the little savings can add up.
Get Smart Power Strips
You have probably heard that even if your electronics are plugged in, they still draw power.
Smart power strips will detect when devices are in standby mode and cut off the power supply.
You could go around taking the plug out of every outlet when you are not using it, but a smart power strip takes the thinking out of it.
Take Your Phone Off The Charger When It Is Fully Charged
If your phone is plugged in at full charge, the outlet will still have to draw power to keep it at 100%.
So take it off the charger and put it in power-saving mode when you are not using it. This is not only good for your electric bill, but it is also good for your phone’s battery. Keeping lithium-ion batteries on the charger at 100% will hurt the life of the battery.
If you live in a deregulated state, you can enter your zip code and switch to a cheaper energy supplier in just a few clicks. Combine switching with all the methods mentioned above, and you could end up saving a boatload!