Ways to Save on Your Electric Bills

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5 minutes read

Last updated: 07/16/2020
Ways to Save on Your Electric Bills

Easy Ways to Save on your Electric Bill

Air conditioning accounts for about 17% of the electricity used in an average American household. Reducing the load of your air conditioner is the most effective way to lower your electric bill. The Department of Energy (DoE) recommends a temperature of 78°F in the summer while you’re home and need cooling. Set your thermostat as high possible to keep comfortable in the summer.

Turn your thermostat up when you’re not at home. If you’re away from home for several hours, adjust your thermostat by 10 to 15°F. When you turn the AC back down, don’t set it to a setting colder than the desired temperature. Your home won’t cool down any faster. 

When the system turns back on, the cool airflow creates a wind chill effect, which helps you feel more comfortable until the desired cooling temperature is reached.

When your air conditioning unit is running (or the heating in the winter), keep your doors and windows shut so the cooled air (or heat) can’t escape. Close the vents in any unused rooms and keep the doors shut as well. Your AC will run more efficiently cooling the rest of your home.

Turning off unneeded equipment helps you save a few kilowatt-hours from stand-by mode over the year and helps reduce the amount of heat added to your home.

When you’re away from the house for an extended period of time, consider turning your AC system off. Unless humidity is an issue where you live, there’s no need to run the AC unit when no one is home and benefiting from it.

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Improve the Efficiency of Your Appliances

Install a programmable thermostat to automate your air conditioning schedule. A programmable thermostat will adjust the temperature automatically on a predetermined schedule. It also lets you adjust the settings to “away mode” with the simple push of a button when you leave the house. 

Consider getting a thermostat with Wi-Fi capability, so you can control the temperature remotely in case you forgot or when plans change. Don’t place any lamps, TVs or other appliances near the thermostat. The sensor will pick up the heat and keep the air conditioner running longer than needed.

Check the filter of your air conditioning system regularly and make sure it’s clean. Clean it or replace it according to the product specifications as soon as it gets dirty. 

Turn down the temperature of your electric water heater to 120°F or keep it at the “warm setting”. To increase the efficiency make sure the hot water pipes leaving the water heater are insulated. Touch your water heater to see if it’s warm or hot. If so it’s losing heat and should be insulated.

Use your dishwasher to save energy and water. Dishwashers require less hot water than washing dishes by hand. To save energy, wash only full loads of dishes and clothes and skip the heat dry cycle on your dishwasher. Washing your laundry with cold water will get it just as clean as using warm water but it’ll save you money on your utility bill. In the spring and summer, consider air-drying your clothes to save energy. 

When you do use the dryer, clean out the lint screen before every load to increase its efficiency.

Try to move activities that generate a lot of heat to the off hours (in the early morning or later in the evening) if possible. Running TVs, computers, washers or dryers as well as ironing not only consumes electricity, it also adds heat to your home. Even small devices such as plugged in cell phone chargers will add some heat. Your AC will then have to remove the added heat, using more electricity.

Schedule regular maintenance of your air conditioning system by a licensed contractor. If you detect any leaks or damage to your system, call for repairs immediately. It’ll help keeping your AC unit run more efficiently.

Renovate and Upgrade Your Home

A small project to start with is replacing incandescent or CFL lights with LEDs. LEDs use up to 90% less electricity than incandescent lights. They also run much cooler, reducing the heat load for your air conditioning system.

Add weatherstripping or caulk to seal air leaks around your doors and windows. It’s cheap and easy to install. Seal any cracks to keep warm or cold air from leaking into your home.

When your air-conditioning system or electric water heater need to be replaced, install an Energy Star rated model. Energy Star certified units are about 15% more efficient than standard models.

Install dimmers and occupancy sensors (motion sensors). Dimmers will let you adjust the light level and occupancy sensors can turn your lights on and off automatically. They’re especially useful for outside lighting.

Change Your Habits

Take advantage of natural cooling. When it cools off at night, turn off your AC and open your windows overnight. Shut the windows and blinds before the sun rises to capture the cool air inside and reduce the sun's heat during the day.

If you have ceiling fans, consider turning up the thermostat a little and use fans to cool your home. With the wind chill effect from a fan you can raise the thermostat temperature a by few degrees without reduction in comfort. Turn off the ceiling fans when you leave the room.

Every appliance adds heat to your home, even small electronics such as computers, radios or televisions. Turn them off whenever you’re not using them. They also draw power in stand-by mode; plug them into a power strip and turn it off whenever you don’t use the devices.

Keep your showers short. Americans use an average of 2.1 gallons of heated water per minute in the shower. When you keep your showers short, your water heater needs to replace less hot water and you produce less steam and heat for your AC unit to remove.

Compare Your Electricity Rates to Other Suppliers

If you live in a state with deregulated energy, you can choose from a variety of Retail Electric Providers (REP) to purchase your electricity from. Compare their rates and sign up for a different supplier if they offer cheaper rates. If you’re not at home during most of the day, you may be able to benefit from time-of-use rates or variable-rate plans. If you’d like to learn more about Xoom, one of our preferred energy providers, check them out here.
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