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Summer is almost here, long sunny days, hot, steamy nights and that means sky-high electric bills. To spare your wallet, we found 49 ways to save on electricity.
Thank Goodness for Air Conditioning
I live in New Orleans whose summers are as hot and steamy as its reputation. My little apartment is only about 600 square feet, but even in such a small space, the effort to keep cool means my electric bills are obscenely high for about six months of the year.
Because I have to sleep under thirty blankets no matter how hot it is, I have to run my air conditioner at a ridiculously low temperature all night for months on end. Because I have to save on electricity in other ways, I am uniquely qualified to write this article!
Heating and Cooling
Because keeping your home warm and cool are the two most significant factors in your electricity bill, you will want to concentrate on making changes in these areas because they will save you the most money.
1. Use a Fan
I didn’t grow up with air conditioning so apart from when I’m sleeping, or the very hottest days, I feel cool enough with just a box fan blowing on me. If that doesn’t feel cool enough to you, drape a damp towel over the fan. Doing so cools the air a little more.
2. And a Ceiling Fan
A ceiling fan uses only about 10% of the electricity that a central air conditioning unit requires and can make a room feel up to ten degrees cooler. In the winter set the ceiling fan to run clockwise to circulate warm air and clockwise in the summer to circulate cool air.
3. And an Attic Fan
An attic fan helps cool the attic. They push the hot air in the attic out while drawing in the cooler outside air. Not only do attic fans help save on energy costs, but they can also extend the life of your shingles.
4. Space Heaters
Rather than heating your entire house, use space heaters in occupied rooms. Close the doors to unused rooms and be sure not to leave space heaters unattended for extended periods of time.
5. Turn it Down
For every degree you lower your thermostat in the winter, you can save about three percent on heating costs.
6. Turn it Up
And for every degree you increase your air conditioner in the summer, you can save about three percent on cooling costs.
7. Don’t Block It
Make sure nothing like curtains or furniture is blocking vents or window air conditioning units.
8. Get With the Times
Replace your old wall mounted thermostat with a programmable one like Nest. Because you can control the settings from anywhere, you can save as much as 10% on your electric bill.
9. Location, Location, Location
Be mindful of where you place your thermostat. If it’s near a drafty or sunny spot, it may be kicking on unnecessarily.
10. Keep Up With Maintenance
Have your HVAC system cleaned once a year, so it runs efficiently and change the filters once a month.
11. Be Shady
Close the blinds or curtains on the sunny side of your home. Planting trees near windows and your air conditioner will make a difference too.
12. Double Doors
13. Install a storm door to help prevent energy loss. Having a clear storm door will also let more light in, reducing the need for lights during the day.
14. Wrap it Up
It’s not the most elegant solution but putting plastic over your windows during the winter will help prevent heat from escaping. You can get simple DIY kits at home improvement stores.
15. Put on a New Coat
Of insulated paint! I didn’t even know there was such a thing before writing this article. You can buy a ceramic additive that will make regular paint insulating paint for use both inside and outside your home. Pretty neat!
16. Close the Flue
If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, make sure the flue is closed when you aren’t burning a fire to keep cold or hot air out. Install glass doors in front of the fireplace for the same reason.
17. Seal it Up
Seal up any cracks and gaps around windows and doors with weather stripping or caulk.
18. Tie the Room Together
If you have hardwood floors or tile, use area rugs to help insulate the floors. There is nothing worse than getting out of a hot shower or warm bed and putting your bare feet on a cold floor!
Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you not to turn on every light in the house? Now you’re the one saying that!
19. Make the Change
If you’re still using old-fashioned light bulbs, make the switch to LED bulbs. LED’s use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, so you save on electricity and light bulbs, double frugal win!
20. Motion Detectors
If you or others in your home are not in the habit of turning off lights in empty rooms, install motion detectors. You can buy them in a home improvement store, and you don’t have to be an electrician to install them. They just plug into existing light sockets.
The lights only come on when someone enters the room and turn themselves off when they no longer detect movement in the room. These are also great because you don’t have to fumble around in the dark searching for a light switch!
21. Set the Mood
Dimming your lights decreases wattage output which lowers your electric bill. There are even dimmers that can be controlled via App like GE Bluetooth Smart Switch which means you can control lights even if you are not at home.
Do be sure to get light bulbs that are compatible with dimmer switches.
22. Use the Sun
Use solar lights for your outdoor lighting. They absorb solar energy during the day to light up after dark so cost you nothing in energy.
Looking for more solar energy tips? Check out the Solar Power Nerd blog to help you get some ideas.
Wasting hot water wastes electricity.
23. Skip the Bath
A nice long soak in the tub is relaxing but taking a bath uses more water than taking a shower so long as you keep your shower to ten minutes or less.
24. Make it Quick
There is nothing better than a long, hot shower when it’s cold outside but keeping your showers short (ten minutes or less as mentioned above) not only saves on energy costs but keeps your skin from getting dry as well.
25. Lower the Flow
Swap out your existing shower head for a low flow model. Less water means less work for your water heater. Using a low flow head won’t make a huge difference in your water pressure so your showers will still be enjoyable.
26. Go Tankless
When your old water heater gives up the ghost, consider replacing it with a tankless water heater. Doing so can cut your hot water energy costs by half.
27. 120 is the Magic Number
Setting your hot water heater to 120 degrees will make your water plenty warm without using up lots of energy. If you have small children, this can also help prevent an accidental scalding.
28. Hit the Cold Button
You will use less electricity when you do laundry on the cold water setting rather than hot. One caveat to this, things like bedding, towels, and underwear should be washed in hot water in order to kill germs and bacteria.
29. Put on a Jacket
Not on yourself, although doing so is more cost effective than turning the heat up, on your hot water heater. Insulating it will save energy.
30. Good News!
I was happily surprised by this one, and you probably will be too. It’s actually more energy efficient to use a dishwasher to wash dishes than it is to wash them by hand. But don’t let the heat dry portion of the dishwasher’s cycle to run.
Opening the dishwasher and letting the dishes air dry can save between 15-50% on energy use. The heat dry option doesn’t work on plastic dishes like Tupperware anyway.
You have a house full of appliances, and you probably aren’t using them as efficiently as you could be.
31. Update Your Appliances
If your appliances are ten years old or older, they are probably using more energy than new models. Upgrading to newer, Energy Star models will save on your energy bills because they run more efficiently.
32. Stock Your Fridge and Freezer
Keeping your fridge and freezer well stocked helps to insulate them and reduces the amount of time they have to run. If you are single and don’t keep a lot of food in your fridge and freezer, you can fill them with plastic bottles of water.
Note the words “well stocked.” You don’t want to cram the refrigerator or freezer so full that air can’t freely circulate. That air circulation is part of what keeps food cold or frozen.
33. Get the Temperature Right
Set the temperature in your refrigerator to 38 degrees and your freezer to five degrees. These temperatures are low enough to keep your food safe, and anything lower just uses up unnecessary energy.
34. Clean Your Fridge
Cleaning the coils on your refrigerator will help it run more efficiently. You can use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner to do this, and you will be amazed at how much dust and pet hair (if you have a pet) are trapped in those coils. Be sure to unplug the refrigerator before cleaning the coils.
35. Get it All
When you are gathering ingredients from the refrigerator to cook a meal, get everything at once, so you aren’t opening the door over and over.
36. Cool It
Don’t put hot leftovers in the refrigerator. Doing so heats up the inside of the fridge and can increase the risk of food poisoning. Let food cool to room temperature before refrigerating it. Be sure to refrigerate leftovers within two hours otherwise you risk contamination.
37. Ditch the Deep Freeze
A chest freezer can be a great way to save money if you have a big family and stock it with food that has gone on sale. But if you don’t have a big family to feed, it’s unlikely that you can use up the extra food in a deep freeze before it gets freezer burn.
If you are single or a small family, ditch the second freezer.
38. Slow it Down
Look for recipes that use a slow cooker rather than the oven. You can find thousands of them online, even dessert recipes. A slow cooker uses less energy than the oven and won’t heat up your house. A slow cooker also allows you to buy cheaper, tougher cuts of meat because the long cooking time renders even the stringiest cuts become tender.
39. Speed it Up
Conversely, use a microwave rather than your oven. Like a slow cooker, a microwave uses less energy and won’t heat up your home.
40. Fill it Up
Your dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer use the same amount of energy ever how much you fill them so don’t run them unless you have a full load.
41. End it Early
You can turn off the oven or burners a few minutes before the allotted cooking time is over. The residual heat will finish cooking your food. Just be sure not to open the oven door until it’s time to take your dish out. Every time you open the door, the oven can lose as much as 25 degrees. You can check on your dish by turning on the oven light and taking a look through the glass front.
42. It’s 100%
You can’t charge a cell phone or laptop beyond 100% so once a device is fully charged, unplug the charger. Some people leave a charger plugged in even when they are not charging a device. This not only wastes energy, but it can also be a fire hazard.
43. Dim the Screen
Dim your phone and laptop screens to cut down on battery usage and having to charge them frequently.
44. Ditch the Desk Top
When your desktop computer needs replacing, buy a laptop rather than another desktop. Desktop computers use more energy. While you are still using a desktop, be sure to turn it off when you aren’t using it, at least overnight.
45. Time Your Chores
Some energy providers offer lower rates during off-peak times. If your provider does, do things like laundry and dishes during those times.
Power strip that is. Even if appliances are turned off, they are still drawing electricity if they remain plugged in. It’s a hassle to run around every morning unplugging stuff but if you plug things like the coffee pot, toaster, and blender into a power strip, you can just hit the off button, and that will stop these energy vampires from rocketing up your bill.
47. Skip the Dryer
Line drying your laundry if you have outdoor space or using a drying rack if you don’t will save you money on your energy bill and save wear and tear and your clothes. The lint in a dryer’s lint trap is coming from your clothes being worn away.
I’ll concede that line or rack dried bath towels don’t feel very nice though, sort of hard and crunchy. As a compromise, let them dry naturally until they are just slightly damp and then toss them into the dryer for a few minutes.
If you do use a dryer, be sure to clean out the lint trap after each loan and wash the screen with warm, soapy water every few months. And be sure to stop the cycle when the clothes are dry. They aren’t going to get any dryer if you leave them in there and you’re wasting energy.
A few helpful stragglers.
48. Shop Around
In most places, there is only one energy provider, so consumers are faced with a monopoly with no option to shop around for a better deal. But that isn’t true everywhere.
If you’re in Texas, you can go to Power to Choose and see if you have an alternative.
49. Get Audited
Many local energy providers offer free energy audits to their customers. The audit will assess how much energy you use and provide suggestions to make your home more energy efficient. If your provider doesn’t offer audits, you can do your own with the help of Energy.gov.
Saving on Electricity is Frugal
Being frugal means spending money on things you care about and saving money when you can. Electricity is vital but not exactly a fun expense so we want to save money on it when we can.
Even making just a few of these changes can have an impact on your electricity bill so you will have more money for more exciting things!