You have taken the time to compare electricity rates. You have switched your electricity service provider and enrolled in a plan that will result in savings on your electricity bills right off the bat. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are installed in every fixture in the house, and you turn your electronics off when not in use to prevent electricity waste. All your large appliances are Energy Star rated and you've weather stripped all doors and windows. In other words, you have done pretty much everything you can to lower electric bills, right?
Yes, these are all strategies that will help reduce your electric bill, and you will see savings as a result. But you can lower the number on your bill even further by making sure that you and your family have the right household habits. Here are some habits that may call for a change in your current routines:
- Use your microwave oven as often as possible in lieu of traditional cooking methods. Microwaves cook food in a quarter of stove or oven cooking times.
- When microwaving, place the food as closely as possible to the edge of the oven's rotating tray. It will cook faster than food placed in the center.
- For food that is best cooked in an oven rather than a microwave, use a small counter top unit whenever possible. Food will cook faster and more electrically efficient in a small unit than in a full size oven.
- Whether using a counter top or full size oven, avoid opening the door to see how food is doing. Instead, turn on the unit's interior light to check on progress.
- Let hot food cool down to almost room temperature before putting it into the refrigerator.
- An overfull refrigerator is not energy efficient, no matter what its Energy Star rating. Arrange shelves, bins, and food to allow for good air flow.
- Run only full loads in your dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer.
- Turn off your dishwasher when it reaches the heat dry cycle, or disable this feature if you can. Open the door to allow dishes to air dry instead.
- Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible.
- Remove lint from your clothes dryer filter before each use.
- Toss a pair of dry hand towels into the dryer for the next load. Studies have shown that drying time can be reduced by up to 20 minutes if two dry wash cloths are included in the load.
- Turn off the TV and stereo when nobody is watching and don't leave either of these on to keep Fido or Kitty company when you are away from home.
- Unplug all battery chargers (cell phones, power tools, MP3 players, etc.) when not being used to charge a device.
- Unplug all small appliances that have digital readouts (e.g. coffee makers and microwaves ovens with clocks) when not being used.
Adopting household habits like these will pay off in the long term in the form of even lower electric bills.