Unless you go fully off the grid and operate completely on solar, you'll be dealing with energy bills and paying for electricity. The average US household spends around $122 per month on electricity and consumes about 892 KWH in that same period. Depending on where you live and the season, you may be spending more than that - but you don't have to! There are ways to save money, increase your energy efficiency, and fret less about that monthly electricity bill. Many of these tips require very little time and energy on your part, which makes the payoff even sweeter!
Cut Back on Air Conditioning
Air conditioning is a must-have during hot summer months, and it'd be difficult to go without it entirely. However, there are ways you can cut down on how much you use your air conditioner.
- Raise the temperature when you're not home
- Use a ceiling fan (they add a wind chill effect and circulate cold air)
- Try a smart thermostat
- Change your filters according to the manufacturer's instructions
Each of these tips allows you to reduce how hard your air conditioning system works, and your home will be more energy efficient as a result. Some are part of good HVAC system maintenance, too, like regularly changing your filters. You'll enjoy your HVAC system longer and get better energy usage as a result.
Including a ceiling fan in the living room and bedroom reduces the amount you'll need to run your AC, too. While fans don't generate their own cool air, they add a wind chill of around 8 degrees, meaning it feels that much cooler while the fan is blowing in the correct direction.
Smart thermostats adjust heating and cooling settings so you get the most out of your furnace or air conditioner. They help you keep a lower heating bill in winter and a lower cooling bill in summer, giving you energy savings all year.
Check Your Seals
Even if you follow all the tips in the first suggestion, you may still not see a significant difference in your bill if you have air leaks around your windows, doors, or appliances. Improper seals allow cool or warm air to escape, making your system work harder to maintain the temperature you've set.
Fortunately, repairing or replacing seals is an easy DIY project for most people. You can pick up weatherstripping at any hardware store, including some that already come with the adhesive. All you'll need to do is cut it to size and place it along the edges of your door or window according to the instructions. Spending a few minutes sealing up drafts will pay off energy costs.
If appliances like refrigerators are leaking air, they probably have a damaged rubber seal. If you can see the damage, such as a split, you may be able to repair it with a drop of silicone sealant. If the damage is significant (or you just can't find it to know for certain) you can grab a new seal for as low as $40. Considering how much a leaky seal can cost on your energy bill, it's well worth the investment and the few minutes of time to fix it!
Purchase Energy Efficient Appliances
Even if your old washer and dryer still function perfectly, they're probably not energy efficient if you bought them a decade ago. Older appliances have higher energy consumption even when they're in perfect working order, so you'll see bigger utility bills as a consequence.
On the other hand, modern appliances tend to be much more energy-efficient products. That includes everything from your hot water heater to your dishwasher. Now, you can find an Energy Star label on everything from windows to refrigerators that help you identify the most energy-efficient products available. Alternatively, you can check the Energy Star website and look up your product.
It isn't always feasible to replace all of your appliances at once, of course, but you should try to do it as it's possible. If something breaks down beyond reasonable repair, check labels and do research to ensure you're getting the most energy-efficient replacement.
Additionally, you can help your appliances along by doing things like running the dishwasher only when you have a full load and doing laundry with cold water. All of those things add up to energy savings with your appliances.
Change Your Light Bulbs
Swapping out traditional incandescent light bulbs for LED - do it now! LED uses around 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and that energy efficiency gets passed on to you in the form of savings. LED bulbs also last longer, so you'll be replacing them significantly less often than your incandescent bulbs.
As LED increases in popularity, you can find it in just about every lighting style, too, to get closer to that soft yellow glow of an incandescent bulb. Your electric bills will reflect the change, and you'll find yourself running to the store less frequently to replace a blown bulb.
You can also take things one step further and install smart bulbs. Smart bulbs, or even motion sensor bulbs, respond to the environment. You can program them to turn off and on at a certain time, control them even when you're not nearby, and generally cut down on leaving on unnecessary lights. You'll waste less energy and pay less for it!
Lower Your Water Heater Temperature
If you have your hot water heater turned up too high, you're going to pay more for the heating costs. That's in addition to risking a burn, of course! Find your hot water heater and check the set temperature. Anything above 140 degrees wastes energy, and anything below 120 degrees risks a build-up of bacteria. That's about a 20-degree sweet spot in the middle, and you want your water heater to sit somewhere within it.
This single adjustment may save you hundreds of dollars on your electric bill every year. That isn't a small chunk of change!
Other than cutting the temperature down in general, find ways to save on the amount you're using your hot water heater. Wash clothes with cold water and take quicker showers (preferably with a low-flow showerhead).
Paying the electric bill may be inescapable for most people, but you can do plenty to help yourself out. From finding ways to seal air leaks to opting for a smart programmable thermostat, you can knock that monthly cost down to something more acceptable.
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