If you want to know how to lower your electric bill, it’s important to keep in mind that even small changes and updates can make a big difference on both your wallet and the environment. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling are the largest expenses for most homes, accounting for more than half of the energy use in a typical household.
So how do you reduce energy usage and save money? While you may not be able to control factors like how much your electricity provider charges (although we do have a tip for that!), you can lower your electric bill by getting a free or inexpensive energy audit and making small daily changes, like turning off lights when you aren’t using them and unplugging electronics after you shut them off. You can save up to 30% on your energy bill just by making the suggested changes on an audit!
Here are some other smart ways to reduce your energy usage and lower your electric bill.
Throughout the house
1. Install energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs
By purchasing Energy Star-certified appliances and light bulbs, you can save 30% on your energy bill and 40% on your electric lighting charges. While there are some upfront costs, the long-term savings are significant.
2. Unplug electronics to reduce standby power loads
Computers, televisions and cell phones are notorious for sucking up energy even when they’re not in use. But there is a simple solution: plug everything into a power strip and turn it off when you’re not using it. Standby power accounts for 5 to 10% of residential power use, so eliminating it can save you up to $100 per year.
3. Regularly maintain your heating and cooling systems
A technician or specialist can perform an annual check and provide recommendations that can help you reduce your energy costs by up to 40%!
4. Check your area’s peak electricity hours
Did you know many electric companies offer discounts to people who use electricity during off-peak hours? Call your electric company and find out what hours might save you more money.
5. Be strategic with your curtains and blinds
For homes and windows that get some natural light, you can use your curtains and blinds to help control your room temperature. In the winter, leave curtains open during the day for warmer rooms. In the summer, close everything to block the sun.
6. Clean or change your HVAC filters each month
A dirty filter means that your HVAC system needs to work harder, and cleaning it can save you 15% in electricity. If you don’t like to throw away filters each month, you can opt for a reusable one that can be easily hosed off and left to dry before re-installing.
7. Lower your water temperature
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends setting your water temperature at 120°. By doing so, you can cut your water heating costs by 10%. If you have an unnumbered dial on your water heater, use the tips from Family Handyman to change the temperature.
Tip: mark the dial once you find the correct setting to save yourself time in the future.
In the Kitchen
8. Only use the dishwasher to wash dishes
Hand washing actually uses more water than your dishwasher and you can save up to 400 gallons of warm water each month by making sure it’s full each time you turn it on. After the wash cycle, reduce the energy used to heat the dishwasher by leaving it open so dishes can air dry.
9. Clean the top of your refrigerator – and the coils
When dust builds up on top of your fridge and coils, it is less effective and will require more energy to run. Cleaning the coils is a relatively easy job and also extends the life of your fridge.
10. Turn off the ice maker
Did you know that ice makers can increase the energy usage of your fridge by 14-50%? Instead, get an ice tray and manually fill up the ice bin as they freeze.
11. Fill up the freezer
Be sure to keep your freezer full so you aren’t just cooling empty air, which escapes each time you open the door. More things in the freezer will reduce the empty space and actually help items freeze better.
In the laundry room
12. Opt for a high-efficiency washer and dryer
If you are in the market for new laundry room appliances, purchasing an HE top-load washer and front-load dryer can help you use up to 66% less water and decrease your electricity usage.
13. Wait for a full load of laundry.
Even though the water amount is different, many wash machines still use the same amount of electricity to complete a wash cycle, regardless of how full it is. Maximize the efficiency and wait to do laundry until you have enough for a full load of clothes.
14. Use the cold cycle
A whopping 90% of the energy used by a washer is for heating the water. Slash this number by using the cold cycle and cold-water specific detergent, which will also preserve the color and integrity of your clothes, too.
15. Clean the lint from your dryer after each use
Clean the lint catcher before or after each use and check the dryer ducts regularly to increase the efficiency of the entire appliance and reduce fire hazards.
16. Line dry your clothes in warm months
Your clothes dryer accounts for up to 6% of your home’s energy usage and line drying during warmer months can lower your electric bill by about $100 per year. If you live in rural areas, this is a great way to reduce your energy consumption. However, if you live in a home with HOA restrictions, it’s important to check the guidelines before installing a clothesline.
17. Recycle the greywater for your garden
Reduce your water usage and grow your garden for less by having the greywater from your wash machine redirected to your garden. You can get started by making the switch to an eco-friendly detergent and installing a simple system that will help you divert water from your laundry room. Depending on your sewer set up, you may need to explore the different options to use greywater to find one that works best for you.
In the bathroom
18. Install low flow shower heads
Showers and baths account for about 35% of the water used in your home, but a low flow shower head can save you 35 gallons of water during each 10-minute shower, shaving money off both your water and heating bills.
19. Fix leaky faucets and toilets.
Even small leaks can waste over 3000 gallons of water per year and will increase costs due to the water being heated and pumped to the faucet.
In the bedroom
20. Keep your bed warm for less
If you like to climb into a warm bed on those cold winter nights, use a heated blanket or invest in a high-quality down comforter to resist the urge of turning up the thermostat.
21. Close closet doors
This small little action reduces the space you are heating or cooling, reducing costs and energy usage. You can also close the doors and vents in rooms that you don’t frequently use to redirect warm or cool air to commonly trafficked areas.
22. Plant trees in your yard
Most people know that planting trees can increase curb appeal and shade your yard, but have you considered the cost savings to your electric bill? Studies show that it can reduce your electric bill by up to $25 a year. Trees planted on the south or west side of the house generate the most energy savings.
23. Use awnings to shield your home from direct sunlight
In addition to landscaping, you may want to consider installing awnings. Awnings can cut down on your cooling energy use by 26% in hot climates and 33% in more temperate climates.
24. Change the color of your roof
If you live in a sunny climate, a white roof reflects sunlight and can reduce your summer energy usage by up to 40%. For those in cooler climates, a dark roof will help trap some of the heat in your home. And for those who have all four seasons? Think about whether you spend more on heating or cooling and choose your roof color to optimize for that season.
A few simple changes can translate to long-term energy cost savings (as well as environmental benefits). While a few solutions require you to make an initial investment, most of the energy-saving habits we mentioned require very little time or money. Once you lower your electric bill with small steps like unplugging your cell phone charger and putting your computer on a power strip, you might find that you’re ready for some of the more ambitious changes that make your home more environmentally-friendly.
For bigger projects, you may need to hire a contractor but you may also want to look for a new home that will fit your needs better. Either way, there is no harm in talking to a local Realtor that can help you determine your next move!