10 ways to lower your electricity bill
Posted by American Homes 4 Rent Team
9m read time
Nov 23, 2021
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average household spends approximately $115.49 per month on electricity. That can fluctuate based on your electricity consumption, where you’re located, the time of year, market changes, and a host of other factors.
You may not be able to control things like a calendar or what’s going on in your neighborhood, but you can start fighting back against high costs by taking some steps in your own home.
Are you constantly thinking: “Hey, my electricity bill is too high!” Here are ten ways to lower electricity bill payments.
1. Unplug your electronics
Unplugging electronics when you’re not using them is an incredibly easy way to help with electricity bill costs. Not every appliance or device needs to be unplugged, but you’ll want to focus on the extreme energy-users—pleasantly called “vampire loads”— which suck up energy even when in sleep mode and can make up to 23% of your home’s electrical bill.
To start, unplug your phone charger from the wall after it’s charged back to 100%. Then, do the same with other smaller devices and appliances that aren’t regularly used. A toaster, coffee maker, or food processor can easily be plugged in when you need it, and stored away when you don’t. Plus, you’ll save extra counter space!
Don’t go too wild unplugging everything, though. Some appliances, like your stove, dishwasher, or water heater, can stay plugged in all the time. Unplugging them could save energy, but it will also introduce a host of other problems and may limit the effectiveness of the appliances when you plug them back in.
It’s also a good idea to power down your computer or other devices—think TVs or game systems—instead of putting them into standby or sleep mode at the end of the night.
You can also use smart power strips, which automatically turn off your devices when they’re not in use. If you’re more of the forgetful type, smart strips could be a solid investment when your electricity bill is too high.
2. Swap out light bulbs
Chances are you have incandescent or LED lights for most of the light fixtures around your home. Those certainly brighten up a room, but they’re not the most energy efficient. In fact, an incandescent light bulb only uses 10% of its energy to produce light; the remaining 90% is wasted as heat.
If you used energy-saving alternative bulbs instead, like compact fluorescent bulbs, you could save nearly $30 in energy costs per bulb over the life of the bulbs. That means a house with 15 bulbs would knock off almost $500 from your energy bill.
While fluorescent bulbs were once ridiculed for being loud and ugly, newer technology has helped make them sleeker and more appealing. They’re also less expensive than they used to be, giving you a double dose of savings.
3. Use heat-generating appliances at night
When electricity use is high, electricity supply becomes more constrained. This is known as peak demand, and can have an impact on your electrical bill. When it’s hotter outside, appliances that use heat make your air conditioner work harder to keep everything cool. Conversely, the colder winter months could increase fuel costs as gas demand grows, making appliances like water heaters and furnaces pricier.
Maureen McNamara, Senior Energy Efficiency Program Manager at the United States Environmental Protection Agency, says the best time to use appliances is when overall electricity use is low. Peak demand can differ by geography, weather, and hour and day of the week, but a good rule of thumb is the hours of 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. are off-peak hours. If you’re looking for how to lower electricity bill payments, these off-peak hours are the ideal times to use appliances.
Of course, it’s not always practical to run appliances during those hours. Sure, you might be able to brew a pot of coffee at 7:30 in the morning, but waiting until 9 p.m. to cook dinner is a different story altogether. As an alternative, try meal-prepping later at night, using an oven to make lunch and dinner for the week and using the microwave during peak hours, which uses less heat than an oven.
There are also other appliance tips for how to reduce electricity bills that can help you conserve energy.
4. Adjust your laundry habits
Your washing machine and dryer are a vital tool for keeping clothes clean, but they can also be energy drainers. To save money on your electricity bill, follow a few simple steps.
- Only wash full loads of laundry. A half load of laundry may not go against every fiber of your being, but it will go against your energy bill. Though there are some energy-saving appliances out there, many washing machines use the same amount of water regardless of how much clothing is inside, so you may as well get your money’s worth.
- Wash with cold water. Washing your clothes with cold water conserves heat. Your water heater won’t have to do double duty to keep your outfits clean.
- Air dry clothing and towels. If you’ve got a lot of thin clothes and towels or don’t need to wear anything in the immediate future, give air drying a try. A clothesline still works wonders—despite what old movies may have suggested, the likelihood of someone actually stealing your clothes is low—or lay out clothing on a table or on furniture around the house while it dries.
- Use dryer balls. When you do use a dryer, wool dryer balls are 100 percent natural and speed up the drying process. As a bonus, they reduce static cling and make your clothes even more snuggly and cozy than usual. Putting on a fresh shirt out of the dryer already feels great—why not improve upon that feeling while saving energy at the same time?
5. Give your dishwasher a break
Save some water by putting any food left on your dishes into the compost and then putting everything into the dishwasher as is. Pre-washing plates and glasses can limit the effectiveness of a dishwasher, since the sensors inside will think dishes are cleaner than they are.
However, most of the energy consumed by your dishwasher goes to heating water. A nice way to limit that energy is to turn off the heat dry feature of your dishwasher. Like using a clothesline, you can let your dishes air dry, or most dishwashers’ air dry function works well enough even without the heat drying feature on.
In the worst case scenario, your dishes may still have a bit of water on them, and you can dry using a hand towel. At best, you’ll minimize your energy drain and see how to reduce electricity bill costs.
6. Pay attention to your fridge and freezer
Your fridge and freezer may keep your food cooler than a polar bear’s toenails, but if you’re not careful, they can quickly add up to high electricity usage.
These six moves will help keep those costs more manageable and lower your electricity bill:
Keep your fridge and freezer fully stocked. Food serves as insulation for your fridge. The more items that are in there, the less amount of time the fridge needs to run to stay cool.
Eliminate dust. If the condenser coils behind and/or under the refrigerator are covered in dust, your appliance is working harder to operate—costing you more money in the long run. Run a cloth over your fridge and freezer drawers and shelves, and use an air compressor or vacuum underneath and behind it to work out any additional dust.
Adjust your temperature. Ideally, your fridge will be at 37 degrees Fahrenheit with your freezer at zero degrees Fahrenheit. Having either colder than that will use up more energy and increase your electricity bill.
Cool down food before putting it into the fridge. You also don’t want your refrigerator to be too hot. Placing hot foods into the fridge, whether freshly out of the oven or piping off the stove, will increase the interior temperature and cause more legwork for your refrigerator.
Do not put uncovered food or drinks in the refrigerator. Uncovered dishes or glasses are a hotbed for condensation. That makes the fridge work harder, which ups your monthly spend.
Turn off your ice maker. An automatic ice maker can increase a fridge’s energy usage by up to 20 percent. Unless you’re making ice sculptures in your home, you probably don’t need that much ice. Keep it off until you need another batch of ice or use ice cube trays.
7. Replace HVAC air filters
A general rule is to replace your air filters and furnace filters every 90 days. Filters collect dirt, dust, and allergens, and as they do so, they become less effective at filtering that debris out from the air.
However, if you have allergies, pets, or younger children, you may want to replace your air filter even more regularly. Children and residents with allergies are more sensitive to the air, so air quality needs to be optimal for as long as possible. Meanwhile, your pets shed and leave dander all over the house—sometimes directly on your clothing, too—and all their dirt and dust add up quickly.
8. Take advantage of your fans
No, not your legion of fans like a rock star has (just be thankful for them). We’re talking about the ceiling fans in your home.
By keeping your fans circulating in your home, your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard. The air from the fan blades can cool off a room, so there’s no need to set your thermostat a couple of degrees cooler.
Just don’t perform any rock star-esque jumps right under the fan, or you might hurt your head.
9. Cut down on the shower time
The average shower lasts about eight minutes, with the average showerhead using a water flow of 2.1 gallons per minute. If you’re not a math whiz, that’s nearly 17 gallons of water every time you hop in the shower!
Even cutting down your shower time by one minute would save a ton of water. Let’s say you shower 360 days out of the year—sometimes we need a little leeway—and spend one less minute with the water running. Over the course of the year, you’d save 756 gallons of hot water on average. That’s one of the easiest ways to lower your electricity bill!
You could also look at turning down the heat level on your water heater. The appliance works harder the hotter the heat it must produce, so reducing the temperature would also reduce the energy it expends.
10. Draw curtains to keep the sun out
No matter where you live, you have at least one room in your house that faces the sun. And its rays can quickly heat up the room, especially if there’s no covering on your windows or doors.
Curtains and drapes, particularly medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings, can reduce heat gains by 33%. You could even look at installing products like cellular shades, which can reduce unwanted solar heat by up to 60%.
As a result, your rooms will stay cooler throughout the day. Your air conditioning unit won’t need to pump as much cold air into the house, and you’ll see your energy bill decrease.
It might be an adjustment at first to adopt these energy-saving steps. However, once you start incorporating these tips into your daily life, they’ll become a much more fluid part of your routine.
And all those techniques add up. By the time your next electricity bill rolls around, you just may be surprised by how much you’ve saved!
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