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44 Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill

Embrace Energy-Efficiency All Year with These Power-Frugal Tips

© 2016 by Kelly Smith; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

A wintertime Green Mountain Electricity Bill; photo © 2016; KSmith Media, LLC

It would be prudent to mention that whenever you are going to make any electrical changes you should consider whether you should DIY or hire a licensed electrician. Lowering your utility bills, both natural gas and electric, is not simply one or two big fixes. Rather, there are a multitude of energy-saving measures that you can take. The real savings over time turns out to be a cumulative effort. With that in mind, here we present you with some of our favorites.

  1. Swap out Conventional to Energy Star Appliances If you have had your appliances 10 years old or more, think about changing them out with new Energy Star models. These use comparably less energy.

  2. Install Dimmer Switches. Not only will you use only as much light as you need, but you will use less power as you lower the light. This was not always the case but today modern dimmers now use a Triac Switch (triode alternating current switch). Instead of diverting the electrical current into a resistor generating heat, the resistor now cuts the circuit on and off, reducing the total amount of energy that flows through the circuit. As a bonus, your bulbs will last longer.

  3. Install Ceiling Fans. When you keep the air flow circulating in your home, and your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard and you can set your thermostat on a more economic setting.

  4. Dry Your Laundry on a Line. Install a clothesline in your back yard, and let the sun and breeze dry your laundry. If you can’t do this, thin about hanging some clothes on a drying rack or on your shower rod.

  5. Abolish Phantom Power Loads. Surprisingly, up to 75% of the energy consumed by home electronics is used when they are turned off. Some examples of these “phantom” users are televisions, VCRs, stereos, computers as well as many kitchen appliances. Anything that displays a time or has other settings is suspect. A good solution is to plug these items into power strips and get into the habit of powering off the strips when equipment is not in use.

  6. Install an Attic Fan. These fans pull cooler air into the home. They also assist in removing hot air.

  7. Keep Your Refrigerator and Your Freezer Full. Food takes up space and functions as insulation. It reduces the time that the refrigerator needs to run to maintain the goal temperature. If your freezer is empty, simply throw in some jugs of water.

  8. Banish the Sun from Your Home. Reduce air conditioning use by closing blinds and curtains on the sunny side of your house. It also helps to install tinted window film.

  9. Install Storm Doors. Storm doors add an extra barrier against the elements, reducing energy loss. Consider putting one on each of your exterior doors.

  10. Schedule an Energy Audit. A great many utility companies make a free home energy audit available to their customers. It is well worth jumping on this opportunity if available. If there is no such offer in your area, perform your own energy audit or call in a professional. It will inform you about the areas where you can cut your energy consumption.

  11. Replace Your HVAC Filters on a Regular Basis. Your HVAC system can only run at peak efficiency by changing the filter according to manufacturer recommendation. This is generally every 30 days.

  12. Schedule Bi-Yearly HVAC Maintenance. You will increase the energy efficiency of your HVAC system and extend its life by having it inspected and serviced by your local HVAC service company.

  13. Avoid the Heat Dry Option on Your Dishwasher. The majority of the energy used by your dishwasher goes to heating water. By turning off the heat dry feature you will minimize the expense.

  14. Set Your Hot Water Heater to a Lower Temperature. 13% of your home’s electricity is expended in heating water. This percentage can be lowered by setting your hot water heater in the range of 130-140 degrees. To reap even more savings, consider installing an insulation jacket. Also, insulate the first 6 feet of pipe that extends from your heater.

  15. Capitalize on Off-Peak Rates. Some electrical providers offer lower electric rates during off-peak hours. If yours does, this is a critical time to wash laundry, do the dishes and run your dishwasher.

  16. Switch from Incandescents to LED Lights. LED light bulbs use 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Switch out the most widely used bulbs in your home. Then, replace the rest as they burn out.

  17. Use Cold Water to Wash Your Laundry. Approximately 90% of the total energy used by washing machines goes to heating water. Set the dial to cold (wash and rinse), and lower your bill.

  18. Wash Only Full Loads. Washing machines and dishwashers use quite a bit of electricity. You can minimize your power cost by washing only full loads.

  19. Do Not Put Uncovered Items in Your Refrigerator. Although it might not be intuitive, the problem here is condensation. The resulting added humidity from uncovered items makes the refrigerator work harder, costing you more cash.

  20. Plan Your Landscaping with Shade in Mind. Plant appropriate trees to shade your home. This way your air conditioning will not have to work as hard. Be sure not to plant them too close, though; the roots can damage your foundation. Consult with an arborist for best results.

  21. Use Dryer Balls. Adding Dryer Balls into the dryer with your load to lower your drying time.

  22. Get a Programmable Thermostat. Then, set it to run less when you're at work and when you're sleeping. A very popular one is the Nest Learning Thermostat, 2nd Generation; it works with Amazon Alexa.

  23. Pile on the Blankets. An extra blanket on your bed in the winter months is often all it takes to push back the thermostat another couple degrees.

  24. Clean Your Dryer Lint Trap. Remove the lint from your dryer trap after each load to maximize your dryer’s efficiency. Then, scrub it down with soapy water and a brush once every couple months to remove any additional lint trapped in the screen.

  25. Install a Tankless Hot Water Heater. The time will come when you need to replace your hot water heater. When you do, consider changing it out with a tankless hot water heater; also referred to as an on-demand hot water heater. They can cut your hot water energy cost by half since they only heat water when needed. In larger homes, multiple heaters can be configured in different zones.

  26. Add Insulation Behind Electrical Outlets and Switch Plates. Purchase a package of foam electrical outlet sealers and install one behind all of your switches and outlets. This is a quick, frugal, and efficient fix.

  27. Clean up Refrigerator Coils Any time a refrigerator develops dirty condenser coils it will have to work harder to do its job. Schedule this maintenance on your refrigerator at least once every 3 months in order to optimize efficiency.

  28. Let Food Cool Before Putting It in Your Fridge. Putting hot foods in your refrigerator raises the temperature inside. This causes your fridge to work harder.

  29. Shut Your Oven and Stove Off Early. Turning your stove or oven off shortly before the food is done will allow the built-up heat finish the cooking. If you are an avid chef and own a Pizza stone just leave it on the bottom rack and you can shut down the oven even earlier due to the stored thermal energy!

  30. Beef up Security with Motion Sensors. It’s a smart idea to install motion sensors both inside and outside your home. This will ensure that your lights only fire up when called for.

  31. Install a Radiant Barrier in Your Attic. A radiant barrier in your attic is your first line of defence both in the summer and winter. 2 types are available — paint and foil. Quality foil will stop up to 98% of thermal transfer; paint effectiveness depends on factors such as concentration of aggregate in the paint and how many coats are applied.

  32. Add a Water Heater Timer. Conventional hot water heaters heat water day and night 24/7. Installing a water heater timer will allow your to schedule it to run only when needed. Generally, you may expect to experience 5% 12% lower cost of use.

  33. Switch out to Low-Flow Shower Heads. It’s only common sense; less water through the shower head equals less water to heat. As a bonus, your monthly water bill will benefit.

  34. Check Off an Energy-Efficiency Checklist. Consulting this checklist will ensure that you haven’t missed opportunities.

  35. Go with Outdoor Solar Lights. The sun is already beaming; why not take advantage of it? You can employ solar lights many of your outdoor lighting needs. They store the sun’s thermal energy during the daytime and use it to power your light fixtures at night.

  36. Invest in Insulating Paint. The non-profit EnergyIdeas Clearinghouse which is a partnership joining Washington State University and the nonprofit organization Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, determined that when experiencing ideal situations, insulating paints does offer a “reduction in heat gain” of around 20% on freshly-painted walls that are exposed to the sun. Bottom line; don’t waste your money on shady exterior walls.

  37. Put the Secondary Fridge in Your Basement, Not in Your Garage. Your garage tend to experience extreme temperatures. Hot during the summertime and cold during the wintertime. Either causes the fridge to labor harder Given a choice, install the second refrigerator, or freezer for that matter, in your basement. The temperature is bound to be more constant there.

  38. Do Your Cooking with the Lids On. It’s another no-brainer; food will cook more rapidly with the lids on; the heat cannot escape.

  39. Do Not Preheat Your Oven Unless Necessary. For example, for casseroles and other types of dishes that need long cooking times preheating your oven really is not critical.

  40. Periodically Remove Sediment From the Hot Water Heater. The sediment build-up in heaters will lower the efficiency of your heating elements. Using the valve located on the side of the heater to drain the sediment twice yearly. Isolate the power to the heater, let it cool, and use a garden hose to direct the water out of your home.

  41. Wrap Insulation on the Hot Water Heater. Adding an insulating jacket to a hot water heater will go a long way to preventing heat loss.

  42. Is Your Home Properly Insulated? If not, take care of it. Adding insulation is generally a good jumping off point when improving energy efficiency since the cost is so low and the results are immediate.

  43. Beef up Your Weatherstripping. Inspect around all your windows and doors. Look for any gaps and feel for any drafts. Install weatherstripping where needed and use caulk where called for.

  44. Make Use of the Microwave Rather than the Oven. Microwaves ovens will use less electricity than conventional ovens and do not build up as much heat in your kitchen.

Winter will soon be here and summer will soon follow, so take the time to prepare your house to lower your electric bill all year long. For further things you can do to both winterize and summerize your home, please refer to the energy conservation links below.

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