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With a large portion of Houston residents seeing increased energy costs from the recent winter storms, many are looking for ways to lower their Houston energy bills.
To help, we've compiled a list of methods that you can use to slash those energy bills, including a few that are exclusive to Houston residents.
Consider Switching Electricity Providers
First, since you have the power to choose your electricity provider, you should consider switching electricity providers. This method can help you start to instantly save on your electricity bill without changing anything about your electricity usage or behavior.
With ElectricityRates.com, you can wield your power to choose and compare multiple electricity providers and plans side-by-side, so you can lock in a low-cost fixed-rate plan that keeps your bill predictable. Enter your ZIP Code above to compare Houston electricity rates.
Step 1: Determine What's Using The Most Energy In Your Home
After seeing if you can save on your electricity bill by switching providers, you should then move on to see what's actually causing the most energy consumption in your home.
For natural gas, you can use CenterPoint's Home Energy Analyzer. This will tell you how much natural gas you use and what's consuming it.
Unfortunately, it's not as simple for your electricity, so you have a few options here:
- Manually Calculate Each Appliance's Energy Consumption – Effective, but will likely require more time than you're willing to put in.
- Create An Account Through Smart Meter Texas – This will tell you how much electricity you use and when, which could help you narrow down what's causing most of your energy consumption.
- Use Household Averages – Probably the easiest and most logical method.
On average, heating, cooling and water heating make up the majority of the average household's energy consumption. If you're a Houston resident, your heating usually doesn't take up much energy (outside of extreme weather events), so your A/C and water heater are a great place to start looking to cut back.
How To Lower Your A/C Consumption
You can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption in one of two ways:
- Using your A/C less
- Increasing the efficiency of your A/C
All of the following methods do one of these two things. Some of these methods will seem like common sense. However, you should read them all to see some of the exclusive opportunities only available for Houston residents.
Raise The Thermostat Temp
According to energystar.gov, you can save 10% on your energy bills every year by turning up your thermostat by 7-10. The higher the temperature on your thermostat, the less your A/C has to work to keep your home cool.
Open Windows And Use Fans
When the temperatures are mild enough, always use windows and fans over your central A/C to cool your place down. A fan uses around 1% of the total energy a central A/C system uses in the same time period.
Use A Portable A/C Unit
If you spend a solid portion of your time in one part of your home, consider getting a small window A/C unit. That way, you can cool down the area of your home that you actually use, and not waste energy on the areas you don't.
Ensure Your Home's Insulation Is Solid
A poorly insulated home can cause cool air to leak out of the home and force your A/C to run for a longer period of time. Have a licensed energy professional come out to your home to see if you're home is properly insulated.
CenterPoint CoolSaver A/C Tune-Up
CenterPoint's CoolSaver A/C Tune-Up is a free tune-up offered by CenterPoint Energy. An A/C tune-up can get your air conditioner running like new, with some estimating that you can cut your A/C's energy consumption by 27%.
And since it's free, there's really no reason not to take advantage of CenterPoint's offer.
Get A Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats can help you lower your energy bills by learning your habits. Since it's connected to your phone, some models can tell when you're not home and turn off your A/C. You can also program it to turn on/off and raise/lower the temperature at specific times.
Since it's all automated, you won't have to worry about leaving the A/C on accidentally and wasting energy. Some smart thermostats can even keep track of how long your HVAC system is running each month.
Right now, CenterPoint customers in Texas can save $50 on a smart thermostat with an instant rebate.
Upgrade Your HVAC Unit
Sometimes there's no avoiding it and you need to upgrade that old inefficient HVAC system. If this is the case, you can save a good amount of money each month by upgrading to an energy-efficient model.
To help you save on these energy-efficient models, CenterPoint offers rebates on them so you can save both now and in the future. To get more information, CenterPoint directs you to email them at CNPEE@centerpointenergy.com.
How To Lower Your Water Heating Consumption
On average, your water heater is the next biggest consumer of energy behind your A/C and heating system. Here are a few ways that you can work to lower its consumption.
See If You Can Lower The Temperature
When a technician installs a hot water heater, they often set its temperature at 140. Most likely, you can turn this down to 120 and not even notice a difference.
Insulate Your Hot Water Tank
If you want to, you can also insulate your hot water tank. Just like your home, this helps keep the heat inside the tank where it belongs.
Upgrade Your Hot Water Tank
While CenterPoint Energy does not have any rebates, today you can find extremely efficient hot water tanks at relatively affordable prices. Here are some of the types of water heaters you should consider, depending on whether your hot water tank uses electricity or natural gas:
- Electric Water Heater – If you have an electric water heater, try to find a heat pump water heater. These systems are two-three times more efficient than regular electric water heaters.
- Natural Gas Water Heater – If your water heater uses natural gas, consider a tankless water heater. These water heaters only heat the water you use, so you don't waste energy on keeping a full tank warm when you don't need to.
Other Techniques And Strategies To Keep In Mind
While all the above is great, there are other things that you can do to lower your energy bills. We suggest that you keep these techniques and strategies in mind.
Look For Energy Efficient Appliances
Whenever you're purchasing new household electrical appliances, look to find ones that are ENERGY STAR-certified. These appliances have been tested and proven to be more energy-efficient than other models.
You don't have to spend a bunch of money on a new dishwasher or refrigerator to get started. You can find ENERGY STAR-certified light bulbs that are not only extremely efficient and long-lasting, but are also affordable.
Purchase Smart Products
We already discussed the benefits of a smart thermostat, but other smart products can also help you save energy. Smart products of all kinds let your schedule and automate your appliances so you only use them when you need to. You can even turn your regular electronics into smart products with a smart plug.
If you want to learn more about other ways you can save on your energy bills, check out our in-depth guide on lowering your energy bills.