In today's world, it isn't uncommon for families to receive a bill in the mail for $300, $400, or even $500 from the electric company. This can be particularly stressful when times are tight. So what can you do to reduce your electric bill without moving, or spending an arm and a leg? Here's 10 easy ways to reduce your bill immediately, and without breaking the bank.
1. Add Insulation
According to Energy Star, more than half of the energy your home uses goes towards heating and cooling your home. Seeing as though most of your home's heat escapes through the attic, it makes sense to be sure that you have adequate insulation. Insulation keeps the air that you pay to heat inside during the winter, and the hot air out during the summer.
Fiberglass insulation is relatively cheap, and it's easy to install yourself, if you're into that sort of thing. Will it make a difference? You bet it will. Energy Star estimates that you could save up to 20% on your heating and cooling costs by effectively insulating your home.
If you're worried about installing the insulation yourself, just do a quick search on Google. There are plenty of DIY tutorials to choose from that will walk you through the entire process.
2. Apply Weather Stripping
Weather stripping is the material around your doors that seals the gaps around the edges and keeps air from infiltrating your home. It's simple to install and can make a big difference if your current stripping is old or damaged.
Replacing old, withering weather stripping is another inexpensive and easy project that will help to reduce your electric bill.
3. Insulate Your Outlets
This small, often overlooked, project can be source of air leaks. Outlets and light switches need insulation too, especially when they are on an outside wall.
All you need is special outlet and switch plate seals to do the job, which can be found at any hardware store. These seals are made specifically for outlets and switch plates, so you don't have to worry about them catching fire.
4. Install A Programmable Thermostat
The USDE estimates you’ll save 10% off your utility bill just by installing a programmable thermostat. While not extremely difficult, it is a bit more involved than insulating switch plates. Just be sure to read the instructions that come with the thermostat.
As a rule of thumb, the more you turn your thermostat down during the winter, and up during the summer, the more money you'll save. If your house is empty during the day, you may be able to turn the system off completely and set the temperature to return to normal around the time you get home. This may take a bit of experimenting to find out how long it takes to heat or cool your home to the desired temperature.
A programmable thermostat may be one of the smartest investments when trying to reduce your energy bill.
5. Install A Low-Flow Shower Head
The average shower head puts out between 4 and 5 gallons of water per minute. A low-flow shower head only puts out 1.5 gallons and is still able to provide plenty of pressure. Not only will you spend less money heating your water, but you'll conserve water as well, which is good for you and for the environment.
6. Insulate Your Water Heater
If you have an older water heater, you could save up to 10% on the cost of heating your water simply by insulating it. This enables you to heat your water more efficiently by preventing heat loss.
This is another really simple and relatively cheap investment that can pay off big time.
7. Wash Your Clothes In Cold Water
Did you know that 90% of the energy your washer uses goes into heating the water? Seeing how the average US family does about 400 loads per year, switching to cold water can really add up.
According to Treehugger, washing every load on the hot/warm cycle for a year is equivalent to burning about 182 gallons of gasoline. In an average car, that will take you about 3,500 miles! However, using cold water to wash the same number of loads would equal just 8 gallons of gas. Talk about a short trip. HUGE difference.
8. Pack The Dishwasher And Wash Large Pots & Pans By Hand
This one is a 'two-fer' as we say in Texas. To minimize the number of loads in the dishwasher, never run a half load. Large pots and pans take up a lot of space in the dishwasher, increasing the number of loads you'll have to do.
Want a pro tip? Turn off the 'heat dry' function and let your dishes air dry for even more savings.
9. Buy Energy Star Appliances
Energy Star rated refrigerators, washers, and water heaters use a fraction of the energy as their non-rated counterparts. While these appliances are usually priced competitively, you may have to fork over a little extra coin for Energy Star products. But don't fret, you will always get your money back in the long run. Always look for the Energy Star logo when buying large appliances.
10. Cook Strategically
It takes a lot of energy to heat up your oven. If you're cooking something small, consider using a toaster oven instead. Microwaves also use a fraction of the energy required by your oven. Whenever possible, consider using the microwave to heat things up.
When it comes to saving money, identify the appliances in your house that use both water and energy. Dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters are ideal candidates to be replaced by newer, more efficient models.
When it come to saving on electricity, your air conditioner is the biggest menace that you face. Insulate accordingly, and automate appropriately. The less you use your A/C the lower your bill will be.