For many homeowners, the monthly utility bill is the second-largest expense after the mortgage. Reducing your energy usage isn’t just a good investment for the environment—it’s also a great way to keep your budget in check.
In 2016, the average electric bill in the United States was $119 per month—over $1,400 per year. Since then, electricity prices have grown at roughly 2.3% each year, which means in 2018, the average household can expect to spend just under $1,500 on electricity.
Cutting that cost would be a huge relief to many families—what would you do with an extra $700 a year?
There are two “schools” of cutting your electric use in your home:
- Energy conservation means avoiding using unnecessary energy, such as unplugging electronics when not in use, while also limiting your current energy use, such as not turning on your heater at night when a couple of extra blankets will do.
- Energy efficiency involves improving your home so that you will need less energy to keep it comfortable. Going efficient would mean that, rather than turning your heater off, you invest in a “smart” thermostat that would automatically adjust the temperature, or upgrade to an HVAC unit that would need less energy to maintain the same level of comfort in your home.
Going efficient often has a higher price tag than conservation, but efficient home improvements will save you more in the long run—and improve the value of your home. Not all energy efficiency is expensive, however! Being more efficient can be as simple as changing a lightbulb.
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of 50 ways—both big and small—to cut your electric bill in half. By employing these tips, you can accumulate big time annual savings!
1. Start with an Energy Audit
An energy audit will tell you how efficient your home’s energy usage is. You can enlist help from your utility company to conduct an energy audit. Many utility companies offer this as a free service. You can also do your own energy audit too. The main goal is to identify areas you can cut back on energy use.
2. Cut Out Phantom Energy
You are probably wondering what “phantom energy” is. Don’t worry, your home isn’t haunted, but it is sucking energy up like a vampire. Did you know that 75 percent of your energy use is caused by electronics that are turned off?
For example, your toaster could be sucking up 876 watts while on, but zero when off and unplugged!
Your TV, computer, Internet router, and kitchen appliances are making your electric bill higher. This is because they are continually working even while off. To cut your electric bill significantly, use power strips and turn them off when electronics are not in use.
3. Use Dimmer Switches
Installing dimmer switches is another great way to start reducing your electric bill. What makes dimmer switches unique is that they restart every 120 seconds, and the restart isn’t noticeable to the human eye. This essentially modulates how much energy is needed, saving energy and money!
4. Start Line Drying Laundry
Dryers are energy hogs, and cutting them out of your home routine can save you quite a bit of money. For instance, dryers consume between 1,800 watts to 5,000 watts per load. Instead of turning on the dryer, line dry your laundry to chop away at your electric bill.
How much can you save? Let’s say your dryer uses 3,000 watts per load, and you pay $0.10 per kWh. If it takes your dryer 30 minutes to dry a load, you are looking at $2.74 per month and $32.85 per year savings.
5. Keep Your Fridge and Freezer Full
You probably know not to leave your refrigerator or freezer door open—after all, when you open the door, cooled air escapes and your fridge has to use more energy to recondition the air. In fact, on average, open refrigerator doors count for up to 7% of its energy use.
But did you know that keep a full refrigerator can also help cut it’s electricity usage? How? Well, the food and drinks you stuff into your fridge and freezer acts as insulation, keeping your refrigerator from working so hard to cool things off. Energy saved!
6. Keep Refrigerator Coils Clean
Your refrigerator can suck up a lot of energy. A fridge can use anywhere between 201 kWh to 500 kWh per year, depending on the type of fridge you have.
Image via EnergyGuide.be
But you can decrease appliance energy loss by keeping coils clean, because dirty coils make your fridge work harder. Checking and cleaning them every three months can help cut electricity costs, and lengthen the life of your refrigerator too.
7. Install and Use Ceiling Fans
Air conditioner units are among the top energy consumers of any household. By installing ceiling fans, or using the ones you have can help circulate air throughout your home. This will ease the job of you air conditioner.
8. Get an Attic Ceiling Fan
While on the topic of ceiling fans, do you have one in your attic? You may notice how hot it gets in the attic or on the top floor of your home in the summer. Having an attic ceiling fan can reduce hot air and allow your home to be cooled faster.
9. Keep the Sun Out
Direct sunlight can quickly turn up the heat, especially in the summer months. By keeping the sun out, you can reduce air conditioner energy consumption. Close blinds and curtains on the sunny side of your home, or even using tinted window film to start cutting your electric bill in half.
10. Get Annual HVAC Maintenance
Your HVAC system accounts for a large portion of your electricity bill. According to Energy.gov, “Air conditioners use about 6% of all the electricity produced in the United States, at an annual cost of about $29 billion to homeowners.”
To ensure your HVAC is operating efficiently, get annual maintenance done on it. The inspection can identify any wear and tear that could be causing your HVAC system to be working harder than needed.
11. Clean HVAC Filters
Cleaning your HVAC filter also promotes efficiency. Cleaning or changing your HVAC filter every 30 days can help you cut electricity costs.
A few helpful filter-changing tips include:
- Panel Filters – Replace every 30 days
- Pleated Filters – Replace every 3 to 4 months
- Media Filter – Replace every 6 months
- Permanent Filters – Clean once a month
The added bonus is that your home will also have cleaner air flowing through it. This is a definite bonus during allergy season!
12. Turn Off Your Stove
This is an easy tip to implement to help cut electricity costs. When you use your electric stovetop or oven, turn it off a few minutes before your food is done. The heat built up can continue to cook your food while you cook off a few dollars a year from your electric bill.
13. Use LED Lighting
LED lights can reduce your lighting energy consumption by 90 percent. This can save you quite a bit of money long-term!
Image via EnergyGuide.be
You don’t necessarily need to replace every incandescent bulb in your house with an LED one, just the major rooms in your home.
14. Wash and Dry Dishes by Hand
Eliminating your dishwasher can save you money. However, it all depends on how much water you use, and the temperature of the water. Cutting down on any appliance use in the kitchen will ultimately help you cut your electric bill in half. It is just important to understand the alternative costs.
15. Turn Off Dishwasher Heat Dry
If you can’t ditch the dishwasher, or if washing dishes by hand is not as cost-effective as your dishwasher, you can still cut electricity costs. To maximize energy savings, turn off the heat dry selection on your dishwasher. This can reduce energy needed to heat water.
16. Insulate Electrical Outlets
Did you know your electrical outlets and switches could leak heat and let in cool air? To maximize your heating and cooling efforts, insulate those outlets and switches.
This is actually a pretty easy way to cut electricity costs. Buy a pack of electrical outlet sealers and install them behind outlets and switches. Want to go the extra mile? Place child-safety plugs into outlets after insulation is installed.
17. Install Storm Doors
Storm doors can save you a little bit on your electric bill. Installing them also makes you eligible for a $500 tax credit. The average storm door costs around $200, but if you only need two or three of them, the tax credit alone makes it worth it.
18. Do Energy Saving Landscaping
There is a lot of focus inside the home when it comes to cutting electricity costs. However, you can take energy saving outside too. How? By doing a little energy saving landscaping.
Planting trees to shade your home and your air conditioning unit can help naturally insulate your home, thus saving energy on heating and cooling. Decreasing the amount of rock and cement is also another great way to combine landscaping with energy efficiency.
19. Lower Your Hot Water Heater Temperature
Want to cut your electric bill in half? How hot is your water? Did you know that water heating accounts for over 1,000 kWh of electricity consumption per year?
Image via ShrinkThatFootprint.com
Around 13 percent of your home’s electricity is associated with heating water. To cut some of this energy consumption, set your water heater to under 140 degrees.
20. Use a Tankless Hot Water Heater
While on the topic of water heating, you can cut your electric bill significantly by switching to a tankless hot water heater. In fact, a tankless hot water heater can save you $100 per year, according to ENERGY STARr.
Image via Energy.gov
If your hot water heater is in its golden years, think about replacing it with a tankless one to reduce electricity costs.
21. Leverage Off-Peak Rates
Some cities and towns offer reduced electricity rates during certain hours of the day (off-peak hours). If you capitalize on these off-peak rates, you can shave a little off your electric bill. For instance, do your laundry or run your dishwasher during these hours.
22. Buy ENERGY STAR® Appliances
When it’s time to replace appliances, purchasing ENERGY STAR models can help you cut electricity costs long-term. For example, an ENERGY STAR Washer can cut water usage per load by 10 gallons.
Image via Energy.gov
That is 10 less gallons of water your washer has to heat. Other ENERGY STAR appliances include, refrigerators, dishwashers, dryers, air conditioners, freezers, heat pumps, and more. Many of these products are also eligible for ENERGY STAR rebates and tax credits, too.
23. Use Cold Water for Laundry
Do you do your laundry using hot water? This is not uncommon, but it is also a cause for higher electric bills. Your washer’s energy consumption can be 90 percent less if you use cold water instead of hot. This is due to the decreased cost in heating the water. A cost saving method to definitely consider!
24. Do Only Full Laundry Loads
Speaking of laundry, one easy way to make a dent in your electric bill is to only do laundry when you have full loads ready. This will decrease the amount of loads you do, as well as cut energy consumption.
25. Go Low-Flow During Showers
Less water flow during showers means less water to heat. This makes installing low-flow shower heads an easy way to start cutting your electric bill in half.
Traditional shower heads flow at about five to eight gallons per minute. A low-flow shower head flows at around 2.5 gallons per minute with some as low as 1.6 gallons per minute.
26. Use a Programmable Thermostat
Controlling your home’s temperature is an essential way to cut electricity costs. By using a programmable thermostat, you can use less energy when you’re at work, sleeping, or out for the weekend.
27. More Blankets!
Winter months can drive up heating costs. As we mentioned earlier, one of the easiest ways to cut seasonal electricity costs is to simply use more blankets instead of cranking the heat while sleeping.
28. Empty the Dryer Lint Trap
Do you scrape out the dryer lint before doing a load of laundry? Built up lint can make your dryer less efficient, sucking up more energy. Clean out the lint and scrub the lint trap filter with soap and water every few months to keep your dryer from overworking.
29. Buy Some Dryer Balls
It’s no surprise that running your dryer less will help you cut electricity costs. Dryer balls are great for cutting drying times. In fact, dryer balls can cut drying time by 25 percent. If line drying your clothes is not possible, dryer balls are a great energy saving alternative.
30. Install Motion Sensors
Lighting can drain energy fast, and it can be annoying to keep turning lights on and off as you move around your home. Installing light motion sensors can help. Light motion sensors can be used inside, as well as outside.
Motion sensors can help you shave a few dollars off your monthly electricity bill, especially if you pair motion sensors with LED lighting.
31. Employ Smart Strip Surge Protectors
To keep your electronics and appliances from using energy while turned off, but still plugged in, use Smart Strip surge protectors. These intelligent power strips will turn off power to plugs when things are off. This can help you eliminate those phantom loads.
32. Use a Water Heater Timer
Your water heater will heat water regardless if you need it. This is definitely an area you can save some money. A water heater timer allows you to set heating times for when you actually need it. This can reduce your hot water electricity costs by as much as 12 percent.
33. LED Night Lights Instead
If you use nightlights, it’s time to switch them out for LED nightlights to save you money. For instance, an LED nightlight only costs 25 cents per year. They also normally last a lifetime.
34. Install Outdoor Solar Lighting
One of the best ways to shave money off your electric bill is to not use electricity at all. This makes outdoor solar lighting beneficial. They soak up solar energy during the day, and then light up the outside of your home at night for free. Does it get any better than that?
35. Cover Refrigerated Food and Drink
Did you know that condensation makes your refrigerator work harder? Covering food and drinks before placing them in your fridge cuts down on the cool moist air your fridge needs to try to keep cold. Less moisture, less energy consumed. Your food will also taste better later if covered, so a win-win.
36. Only Put Cooled Food in the Fridge
Another way to keep your fridge from working too hard is to let your food cool before storing it in your fridge or freezer. Why? Well, warm food will actually raise the temperature, causing your refrigerator to kick into high gear to regulate it.
37. Do Hot Water Heater Maintenance
Keeping your water heater working efficiently will definitely save your money on electricity costs. Doing hot water heater maintenance can make this happen. One main issue is sediment build up, so draining the sediment using the side valve a few times a year can be beneficial.
38. Insulate Your Hot Water Heater
Next time you’re planning water heater maintenance, think about adding some insulation too. Insulating your water heater can improve efficiency and decrease electricity costs (up to $30 a year). You can even insulate the first six feet or so of water heater piping to go the extra mile in cutting household energy consumption.
Image via TheGreenScholar.com
39. Properly Insulate Your Home
Speaking of insulation, is your home properly insulated? According to the Department of Energy, “Properly insulating your home not only reduces heating and cooling costs, but also improves comfort.”
Since 50 percent to 70 percent of energy consumption comes from heating and cooling your home, you may want to ensure it is as efficient and cost effective as possible. Proper insulation can do just that.
40. Use Weather-Stripping
Weather-stripping is another tactic that can help you cut your electric bill in half. First you should go around your home and identify any gaps between windows and doors. Next, seal them to improve your heating and cooling costs. In fact, weather-stripping can decrease heating and cooling costs by up to 20 percent.
41. Insulating Paint
If it is time to paint the inside or outside of your home, consider using insulating paint. Insulating paint can help reduce your electricity costs by keeping heating and cooling efforts efficient.
Insulating paint was found to have a 20 percent reduction in heat gain on freshly painted walls exposed to direct sunlight. There is also an additive you can add to regular paint to make it of the insulated variety.
42. Put that Second Fridge or Freezer in the Basement
Moving your second fridge or freezer to the basement is an easy energy saving tip you can literally do today. That is, if you have a basement. Most homes will have a second fridge or freezer in the garage. However, the poor insulation and changing temperatures can cause that fridge or freezer to work harder, thus running up your electric bill.
If you really want to cut your energy usage, however—get rid of it entirely.
43. Use Lids When Cooking
Another simple way to start cutting your electric bill in half is to cook with lids. No surprise that food will cook faster when covered, and the faster food cooks, the sooner you can turn off your stove to save energy.
44. Stop Preheating Your Oven
We’ve all done it—in fact, many recipes require it! But contrary to popular belief, food that requires lengthy cook times doesn’t actually need or benefit from a preheated oven. Food for thought when reducing electricity costs.
45. Get More Use Out of Your Microwave
Microwaves can actually be very useful for cutting your electric bill in half. For one, microwaves use less electricity. For example, a microwave uses around 1,200 watts. An oven uses around 2,400 watts.
If you cook something for 30 minutes in a microwave at 10 cents per kWh per day, your monthly cost is $1.83. If you use an oven, you will pay double. Microwaves also do not heat up your home, which is good if you are trying to reduce cooling costs in the summer.
46. Turn Your Lights Off
This is a must if you want to cut electricity costs. Turning off your lights will reduce energy consumption related to lighting, as well as energy consumption used to cool your home. This is because most light bulbs produce heat, even CFL bulbs.
47. Do Maintenance on Ducts and Vents
Your ducts and vents can leak air and cause your electric bill to be much higher than needed. You can have air leaks in torn ducts, leaks near the furnace, or poorly sealed vents.
Image via AllQualityAir.com
Doing duct and vent checks yearly will help you identify any leaks and fix them. This can help you save big on your electric bill.
48. Turn Off Your Refrigerator Ice Maker
Did you know that you could decrease your refrigerator’s energy consumption by turning off its ice maker? That’s right. By eliminating the ice maker you can decrease your fridge’s energy use by as much as 20 percent.
49. Regulate Refrigerator Temp
You may think that the lower your refrigerator temp is set, the less energy consumed. However, this is not the case. Lower fridge settings can actually increase your electric bill.
The ideal refrigerator temp setting should be between 37 degrees to 40 degrees for most efficient use. This is a quick and easy tip to shave money off your electricity costs.
50. Cut Back Ironing Time
Did you know that an iron uses 800 watts to 2,000 watts? If you iron daily, you could be adding nearly a dollar to your electric bill every month. If you have to iron, try not to let your iron sit for too long when warming up, and be sure to maximize ironing time by doing all your clothes for the week in one sitting.
Cut Your Electric Bill in Half Starting Today
Not all the above tips will significantly reduce your electric bill on their own. However, by implementing a number of these energy saving tips together, you can eliminate a large chunk of your electricity costs.
Start with the easy ones and work your way up to the big projects. With a few lifestyle changes and elbow grease, you can be well on your way to a much lower electric bill.