Raise your hand if you love spending money on electricity! (Yeah, that’s what we thought.) Depending on where you live, and who you live with, your electric bills might run anywhere from around $75 to $150+. Cutting down your energy Expense is not only an easy way to put some more cash in your Safe-to-Spend, it’s also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Yay Earth!
But beyond turning off the lights behind you and unplugging electronics that aren’t in use, what else can you do to reduce your electricity costs? Oh, let us count the ways!
Take advantage of discount and incentive programs
Lots of companies have programs that can help you save money on electricity. A little bit of research can go a long way toward lowering your bills. Do a little digging on your utility provider’s website to see if they offer any programs like the following:
Get discounts for reducing use during peak hours
Many power companies offer rebates or discounts to customers who reduce their consumption during peak hours. Check your provider’s website (or call their support number, if necessary) to see if a program like this is available to you, and when you should participate.
Then, set a reminder on your phone to remember to turn off the lights, turn off the heater or air conditioner, and unplug any devices that passively draw power during those hours each day.
Avoid ‘surge pricing’
The basic unit of measurement for the electricity you use is the kilowatt hour. Your electric bill is calculated based on the number of kilowatt hours you use each month. But kilowatt hours don’t cost the same all the time; they’re more expensive during times of highest usage, and cheaper during low-use hours–usually at night.
Check with your power company to find out when kilowatt hours are cheapest, and use this to your advantage by charging devices (including your car, if you have an electric one), running the dishwasher, doing laundry, and using things that pull a lot of electricity (like vacuums) during the least expensive hours when possible.
Go paperless and save
Are you getting paper statements in the mail? Not only is it a waste of resources, it’s also a waste of money. Many utility companies give you a discount if you sign up for paperless statements–and you’ll wind up with less junk in your recycling bin, too. Log into your online account to change your settings to go paperless.
Make your bill more predictable
Power costs can be unpredictable, because your usage varies a lot throughout the year (depending on weather, travel, and lifestyle changes), which makes them hard to budget for.
Most electric companies offer an option to make your bills more predictable by averaging your energy usage from the past year and creating a bill that’s the same every month, regardless of your usage. This can be a good option if you find that the peaks and valleys of utility costs regularly strain your budget or put you in the red. Most water and gas companies offer a similar option.
Make small habit changes
Once you’ve negotiated the best possible deals using the programs offered by your providers, you have the power to reduce your bills even further with simple changes to your habits and equipment. If you’re picturing shivering in a frigid room while a single candle burns, fear not–you don’t have to re-enact a gothic novel to lower your utility bills.
Try these small changes to your habits, maybe introducing just one a week, and the savings will start to mount:
Upgrade your light bulbs
Every time a lightbulb burns out, replace it with a more energy efficient LED light bulb. LED lightbulbs use between 25-80% less energy than their incandescent counterparts. Swapping your five most used lightbulbs with LEDs can save you $75 a year!
Drop your thermostat in the winter….
Drop your thermostat by one degree in the winter. It’s enough to save on your energy bill, but not so much that you’ll suffer.
… and bump it up in the summer
Bump up the setting on your air conditioner one degree in the summer. ACs suck a lot of power, so reducing your use even a little can make a big difference.
Invest in smart power strips
Smart power strips look a lot like regular power strips, but offer this energy saving bonus: They allow you to monitor and control power to each electrical outlet in the strip to improve energy efficiency and prevent household electronics from wasting power.
Upgrade to a programmable thermostat
Heating and air conditioning take a lot of energy to run, so reducing your use even a little can make a big difference. While you can adjust your thermostat manually each day when you leave for work, you might enjoy upgrading to a programmable thermostat, which can analyze your heating/cooling habits and do all the adjustment for you.
Do less laundry
Do you throw things in the laundry hamper after just a few hours of wear? Do you run multiple half-full loads of laundry every week?
While you probably want to wash your workout clothes after a sweaty gym sesh, you might not have to wash other clothing as frequently as you think. You can probably get away with wearing your jeans and sweaters a few more times before throwing them in the wash. (This will also help them last longer - double win!)
Next time you start to toss your barely-worn clothes in the hamper, ask yourself if you could hang them and wear them again before washing.
Use dryer balls and air dry your clothes
Dryer balls are an inexpensive way to cut down the drying time on your clothes (by up to 25%!), which can help you reduce your energy costs.
Another way to cut your energy consumption is to air dry some of your clothes. Air drying is also gentler on your clothes, so it might help you keep them looking nice longer!
Change your air filters
While air filters do cost money, not changing them frequently enough might be costing you more in the long term. When your air filters get clogged with gunk, you HVAC system has to work a lot harder to pump out air, which means, you guessed it - higher electric bills.
Set a reminder on your calendar to change the filters according to the manufacturer’s instructions, or more often if you’re prone to allergies. Depending on where you live, you might want to change them more frequently during peak winter and summer months, when you HVAC unit is running at maximum capacity. (Save money on your air filters by buying them in bulk online!)
Harness your power to save!
No one loves spending money on electricity, so why spend more than you have to? Use these energy saving tips to slash that bill and save not only your budget, but the planet!
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