Are you looking for ways to save electricity? Are you tired of paying enormous utility bills month after month?
My problem is that my kiddos and my husband leave all the lights on, run the washing machine for a single sweatshirt, and just generally waste electricity right and left.
My dad would be appalled at how much my children waste. When I was a kid, he installed timers on most of our light switches, so they’d automatically turn off after two minutes. It was so annoying that we stopped using those rooms.
He also installed SUPER low-flow shower heads. They dripped about as fast as a leaky faucet. But they did solve the problem of all the kids taking long showers! We all jumped in an out as fast as we could so we didn’t freeze!
I’m not really into sacrificing comfort for savings. Misery just isn’t worth it.
I also don’t want to have to nag and fight my family to make the changes.
I need ways to save on electricity that won’t make my family miserable and won’t require me to nag.
Good news! I’ve found several easy ways to save on electricity each month that your family will probably not even notice and nobody will complain about!
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Ways to Save Electricity
Your electric bill is probably your single largest utility bill — and the best place to look for cost-cutting opportunities. Leaving the lights and electronics on accounts for roughly 12% of a home’s energy usage.
1. First, dress appropriately.
I know, it seems kind of obvious, but I’ve had to work really hard to train my kids to dress appropriately, and I’m probably not alone.
For some reason, they want to wear shorts and t-shirts and run around barefoot all winter. I personally like wearing sweatshirts and warm, fuzzy clothes.
Regardless, I set the thermostat pretty low and remind my kiddos to add a pair of fuzzy socks and a sweater to their ensembles.
2. Set your thermostat a little lower.
Set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees when you’re asleep or away from home. Doing so for eight hours can lower your annual heating and cooling costs by around 10%. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that for every eight hours you lower the thermostat by one degree, you’ll save 1 percent on your bill.
Lowering the temperature when you aren’t at home during the day, or at night, when you can get under the blankets and stay warm, is a simple and smart way to save electricity and maximize savings without sacrificing comfort.
3. Install a programmable thermostat.
By using a programmable thermostat, you won’t forget to lower it before you leave and wind up heating an empty home. This Nest thermostat is an easy way to save money on your electric bill. Using smart learning technology, the Nest Learning Thermostat can learn what you like and automatically adjust itself to your comfort level.
After a couple of days of manual adjustments, the Nest Learning Thermostat can anticipate when you would want to turn the temperature up, to help keep you cozy in the morning, and set the temperature down as you head to bed. The Thermostat also works in combination with your Nest Cellphone App. Remotely change the temperature so that your house can be warm when you come home or, turn the temperature down to save energy while you’re away.
4. Keep your home sealed tight.
If your home isn’t sealed up tight, your heat or AC is leaking into the great outdoors, draining your wallet in the process.
Doors should be sealed up tightly with weather stripping. Gaps should be filled with spray foam and then caulked. You should also install insulation pads inside electrical outlets. These socket sealers only cost a few bucks and take minutes to install, but will save you a bunch over their lifetime, and increase your comfort.
Windows, including the very best double-paned windows, have a much lower R-value than insulated walls. They should be covered with insulated coverings. I sewed our insulated shades and drapes, but you can purchase insulated window coverings, too.
Homes settle as they age, creating gaps. If you have an older home, you might want to invest in draft blockers. My grandma uses these along all of her exterior doors.
Good insulation is a must for everyone, no matter how old or new your home is. Hot air rises, so it’s critical that attics have an R-38 to R-49, or about 12” to 15” of fiberglass or cellulose insulation. Walls should have R-13 to R-19 at a minimum. There are ways to improve insulation in all homes, no matter their age.
You need to make sure there are as few ways as possible for heat and AC to escape in order to reduce your electric bill. Adequate insulation can save you a substantial amount on your heating and cooling costs, plus it will make your family more comfortable.
5. Unplug electronics that aren’t being used.
You’ll save a few bucks a month by turning off your electronics and appliances when they’re not in use. Every little bit adds up! Some electronic gadgets never truly power off; instead, they sit in standby mode using a trickle of power that can add up over devices and time.
These are often items with a remote control, because the remote sensor needs power while waiting for your input. Electronics with digital displays, like your microwave oven clock, are also offenders.
The easiest way to nix this electrical leakage, and thus reduce your electrical bill, is to plug these electronics into a smart power strip, which cuts off the current when the devices aren’t in use.
This is one of those easy little things tips, but it’ll make a pretty big difference over a year without it feeling like a sacrifice. You can save electricity now and benefit immediately.
6. Use energy-efficient light bulbs.
Instead of running out and immediately replacing all of your light bulbs, (there is no point in wasting a working light bulb) just replace them with an energy-efficient bulb as they go out. Compact Flourescent (CFL) take a few minutes to warm up to maximum brightness, but uses only 1/3 to 1/5 the power of an incandescent bulb (Edison’s kind) and lasts 8 to 15 times longer.
LED bulbs last even longer than CFL and cost less to operate, plus they reach maximum brightness right away instead of taking a few minutes to warm up. They do cost a little more upfront, but save you money in the end.
You can save, on average, $75 per year by swapping out the bulbs in your most used light fixtures with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs that bear the Energy Star label.
We love these commercial-grade LED bulbs with a 25k hour lifespan. They are supposed to last 22 years and save up to $137.50 over the bulb’s lifespan vs. incandescent. I can’t vouch for that, but I can tell you I haven’t had to change a bulb since we replaced ours!
7. Change your furnace air filters.
Despite the fact that they’re pretty pricey, regularly changing your air filters will actually save you money. Dirty air filters mean that your central air unit has to work harder. Not only will this increase your power bill, it will also mean that your unit is more likely to need expensive repairs and ultimate not last as long as it would otherwise.
Changing air filters frequently is one of the easiest ways to save electricity.
8.Wash only full loads and use cold water as much as possible.
Washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot water will save you money, because heating the water uses a lot of electricity. Also, instead of doing multiple small loads, wait until you have enough clothes to do a full load.
Smaller loads cost the same amount of money per cycle, so it makes sense to wait until you have enough dirty clothes to fill the washing machine.
9. Line dry your clothing.
Line drying your clothes may be less convenient than shoving them straight into the dryer. However, it’s gentler on clothing, so they last longer, and it’s one of the best ways to save on electricity, so you’ll save money.
I don’t line dry everything, but I do line dry well over half of it, because it saves so much money. I made a cute clothes-drying rack out of our old baby crib. The side was in great shape, so I just painted it blue and screwed hooks into the ceiling joists to hang it.
When it’s warm, though, I hang laundry outside to dry.
I also keep this inexpensive foldable drying rack folded in the space next to my dryer for when I need extra drying space. I use it all the time, because I do a whole lot of laundry with eight kids!
10. Turn your water heater down.
It’s actually kind of dangerous to keep your water heater turned up very high. Anything over 120 degrees could scald a child. It’s also a waste of money, because you rarely use water that hot. For most purposes, you would mixing that water with cold anyway.
Turning your water heater down is one of those great ways to save on electricity without sacrificing comfort.
11. Replace your old appliances.
Don’t rush out to upgrade right away if your appliances still work well, but when one appliance breaks down consider replacing it with the best energy-saving appliance you can afford. According to Energy Star, some products can pay you back hundreds of dollars in energy savings over a year’s time.
While shopping around for energy-efficient appliances, look for rebates and discounts. There are sometimes tax exemptions for the purchase of Energy Star appliances as well. It’s worth looking into.
If you’re looking for great ways to save electricity, don’t put your old fridge in the garage. I see so many people make that mistake! It ends up a money sink — a place for food to go and die — that was never energy efficient to being with and will be less so in a garage, where it is exposed to heat and cold extremes.
12. Adjust your fridge and freezer temperature.
Set your fridge to 38 degrees and your freezer to 5 degrees. This will keep your food fresh, but your fridge and freezer won’t need to work as hard to maintain the temperature. It’s an easy way to save electricity!
13. Do chores at night.
If your power company has dual time rates, it may save you a good deal of money to complete your chores when the rate is cheaper. Run your dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer later at night, after the rates have gone down.
Utility companies often charge more for energy that’s used during peak times.
14. Plant trees.
Not only are trees beautiful and fun, but if you locate them strategically they’ll shade and cool your home during the summer, and allow sunlight through to warm your home during the winter. The Arbor Day Foundation estimates that homeowners can save up to 20% each year on their energy bill just by planting trees around their home.
You’ll increase your comfort (and beautify your yard!) while you save electricity and money!
15. Get an energy audit.
Utility providers will often conduct a home energy audit, sometimes for free, and can identify additional ways to reduce your energy usage. They’ll let you know where you have air leaks and whether your insulation is sufficient.
Even if your local power company doesn’t provide home energy audits, you can hire an auditor on your own. For less than a hundred bucks he’ll give you a very specific, personalized plan to improve your energy efficiency.
I hope you’ve found a few ways to save on electricity you can use. Just a few simple, inexpensive (or free!) changes can easily lower your utility bills by a significant amount. Any investments you make toward energy efficiency will pay off in the long run.
What are your favorite ways to save electricity?
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