How to Tame Your Electric Bill

how to save money on electric bill

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Nobody enjoys finding bills in the mail, and when it comes to owning and operating a home, those bills can be pretty hefty. According to the Energy Information Administration, the average US household spends approximately $112 per month on energy bills.

That said, you don’t have to sit by and watch these numbers continue to climb. Instead, there are plenty of things you can do right now to slash your utility bills, leaving more money in your pocket at the end of every month.

If you’re wondering how to save money on the electric bill, the following steps can make a huge difference.

Heating and Cooling

Depending on where you live in the US, you’re likely using your HVAC system quite a bit, whether it’s to keep the inside warm during colder times of the year or to cool down the indoors when the heat is rising. Either way, heating and cooling are probably contributing quite a bit to your monthly utility bill and should be targeted when trying to reduce your bill.

Here are a few ways to do just that.

Install ceiling fans – If you don’t already have ceiling fans installed in your home, the time to do so is now. Ceiling fans can help take a chunk out of your utility bills by cutting back on how hard your air conditioner or furnace has to work to keep the indoor air temperature comfortable. One of the more obvious ways that ceiling fans can do this is by providing some air movement and fanning action, which can come in handy when it’s particularly warm out.

But ceiling fans aren’t just useful when it’s hot. They should actually be used all throughout the year, regardless of what the temperature is. When it’s hot, heat will rise and eventually be eliminated from your home through the higher parts of the building. A ceiling fan can help move this process along by making the heat rise faster. In this case, set the fan to spin counter-clockwise.

On the other hand, ceiling fans can help push heat back down when it’s cold out, which helps avoid any much-needed heat from escaping during the winter. To make this happen, make sure the ceiling fan is set to spin clockwise.

When the air in your home is circulating properly, your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard, which means savings on your utility bill.

Seal air leaks – Your home could be filled with leaks that you might not even be aware of. Unfortunately, all those leaks could be allowing warm or cool air to escape. After your HVAC system has been working around the clock to keep the indoor air at a certain temperature, the last thing you want is to let some of that work go to waste.

As such, scope out all your windows, doors, A/C ducts, and vents to see if there are any gaps that may be allowing air to seep out. If the gaps are too small to see with the naked eye, there is a simple test you can conduct. Make sure all windows and exterior doors are shut and all exhaust fans are turned on. Light an incense stick and hold it near the edges of these sites. If the smoke is drawn in or out of the home, there’s probably a draft, which signifies air leakage.

Once you’ve identified these air leaks, seal them up right away.

Get a programmable thermostat – This isn’t exactly the newest solution on the market, but it’s highly effective at helping to cut back on the costs of heating and cooling. These handy gadgets allow you to automatically set your thermostat back during the day when you’re not home, then turn back up shortly before you return. There’s no sense in keeping the A/C or furnace running at full throttle if no one is home. You can save as much as 10% on your heating and cooling costs this way.

Install dimmer switches – Still wondering how to save money on electricity? How about installing a few dimmer switches? We all know that lights should be turned off in spaces that are not being used, but what about the actual amount of light in rooms we are using? Do we really need all that bright light when we’re just trying to relax and watch TV? Dimmer switches can help in this case.

You can brighten the room only as much as needed, which will not only help save energy in lighting but also create the perfect ambiance in a space. On average, you can save about 20% of the energy required to light each bulb if you reduce your lights to 75% capacity using dimmer switches.

Plant trees outside the perimeter of your home – You can effectively reduce how much your home heats up in warmer months of the year by planting shade trees around your home’s exterior. Doing so will help lower the amount of sun-produced heat warming up your home, therefore allowing you to cut down on the A/C.

Man changing the thermostat in his home.
Adjusting the temperature in your home is only one of many ways to cut costs on your electricity bill.

Water Usage

Water waste is a huge deal, especially when it comes to residential usage. In fact, Americans waste as much as one trillion gallons of water every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If you want to know how to save money on the electric bill, tackling water waste can be a big factor.

The thing about the water you use at home is that it usually needs to be heated first, especially if you’re taking a shower or washing the dishes. That’s where a water heater comes in. The more water you use, the more energy will be needed to heat whatever amount of water being consumed. In fact, water heating is the second-biggest expense in terms of operating a home.

But you can cut back on water waste and your monthly utility bill by taking a few steps.

Install a low-flow shower head – The average showerhead has a maximum water flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute, which means that you’re using as much as 2.5 gallons of water every minute that your showerhead is running. And when you consider the fact that the water is most likely heated, you can imagine how much water and electricity is being used with each passing minute.

With a low-flow showerhead, the flow rate of water during a shower will be effectively decreased, resulting in less water used, as well as less water being heated up.

Replace your old toilets with low-flow models – Much like low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets can also save quite a bit of water. Many old toilets use a ton of water, with anywhere between 3 to 6 gallons of water used with every flush. The current standard for toilets in the U.S. is 1.6 gallons per flush, so you’d be saving quite a bit of water if you replace your old toilets with newer models.

As far as reducing the amount of electricity needed to heat up the water used in your home, consider the following options.

Reduce the temperature of your water heater – Water heaters use up plenty of energy, but how hot do you really need your home’s water to be? By lowering the temperature on your water heater by about 20°F, you can save as much as 20% in water heating costs every year. When asking how to save money on your electric bill consider dropping down the water heater temperature by a few degrees.

Do the laundry in cold water – Do you really need to wash your whites in warm or hot water? About 90% of the energy that washing machines use is to heat the water, so if you do every load in cold water, you can save quite a bit of electricity and money.

Run the dishwasher in cold water – The same principle for using cold water with your laundry machine applies to your dishwasher. To cut back on the amount of heat used getting your dishes clean with your dishwasher, run your cycles using cool water instead.

As far as cutting back on the heat needed to dry the dishes is concerned, consider using rinsing agents so you don’t have to rely on heat to prevent water spots on your dishes and glassware. Or else, let your dishes air dry instead.

Appliance Usage

There are so many things in your home that use up electricity aside from your HVAC system and water usage/heating, including your refrigerator, oven, microwave, toaster, and anything else that’s plugged into an outlet. In fact, the average home has about 40 items that are always plugged in and using electricity around the clock, even if they’re not being used.

While you definitely need to keep these things powered up, you also don’t need to use up more energy than necessary. You might think your laptop isn’t sucking the energy out of your home when it’s closed, but as long as it’s plugged in, it’s still drawing power.

The easiest and most obvious way to avoid wasting energy this way and find out how to save money on your electric bill is to simply unplug things when they’re not being used. This extends beyond just your laptop, it can include things such as your coffee maker, toaster oven, blender, video game system, and even television sets, among other things. Added up, you could be saving around $100 every year.

Of course, it can get really annoying and cumbersome to have to individually unplug everything, so a simple solution would be to plug everything into a power strip. Then, all you’d have to do is turn the power strip off with one flick of the switch. “Smart” power strips can give you the added benefit of automatically cutting the power to gadgets that are on standby. Taking this step can help you slash as much as 30% off your electricity bill.

Final Thoughts

Powering up a home and keeping it comfortable costs money, but how much you spend on your utility bills relies a lot on how smart you are with your energy usage. If you want to know how to save money on electricity, consider adopting any one – or all – of the aforementioned tips to help you spend less than you do now.

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