While natural disasters are unpredictable and may leave high energy bills in their wake, many homeowners can take some small steps to lower their energy use during normal circumstances. Looking for the best ways to save electricity? Here are tips to lower those energy bills.
Change Bad Habits
One way to slowly make a dent in electricity usage is to change some bad habits. Leaving the lights on when they aren’t in use is something many homeowners do out of habit. When leaving a room, turn off the lights. This may take some time for the habit to form, but it could save some energy waste.
Turn off the television if nobody is watching it, too! If you like the background noise, try playing some ambient music on a smartphone (that runs on a rechargeable battery). Don’t leave hot water running while washing hands or brushing teeth; if the hot water heater is electric, this could be wasting valuable hot water and making the hot water heater do more work!
Turn Down the Hot Water Heater
Most everyone loves hot baths and showers. But the temperature on your hot water heater could be affecting the electricity bill. If the thermostat is set too hot, it could lead to burns, too. For optimum energy savings, set the hot water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the Department of Energy explains that those with compromised immune systems or a “chronic respiratory disease” may bump up the temperature to 140 degrees. This temperature does increase the risk of scalding, though.
How much money can homeowners save by turning down the hot water heater to 120 degrees? If it was originally set to 140 degrees, which, per the Department of Energy, is the temperature set by some manufacturers, homeowners’ savings can be between four percent to 22 percent.
How hard is it to adjust the temperature? Pretty simple! However, homeowners should turn off the electricity before embarking on this project and consult their owner’s manual.
Adjust the HVAC Temperature
Summer and winter can lead to extreme temperatures. These polar cold snaps or burning heat waves can cause the HVAC to run overtime. If the temperature is set too high (during winter) or too low (during summer), this could lead to quite a high bill when the temperatures go extreme.
To save money, set the thermostat during winter to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. While this may feel a bit chilly to some, it’s still fairly balmy. When summer hits, keep the air conditioning temperature set to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. On extremely hot days, this temperature will still feel cool.
Monitor Window Coverings & Insulation Needs
During summer, keep the hot sun from warming up the home by closing drapes and blinds. During winter, let the sunlight in. Make sure windows are insulated, too. If the house is too drafty or seems to be too warm, additional wall or attic insulation may be necessary. Consider having a professional check out insulation needs.
One way to spot a poorly insulated attic is after it snows. A well-insulated attic will lead to a cooler roof; the snow will not melt as easily. Attics with poor insulation will let heat escape, and the snow on the roof will melt more easily.
Homes that are poorly insulated also may lead to the HVAC working overtime…and possibly higher bills!
Be Mindful About Appliances
Everyone has had an incident where they spilled something on a favorite item of clothing. The instinct is to take care of that stain immediately…and throw the garment in the wash (if it’s washable). Don’t waste water or electricity by running partial loads of laundry. Instead, fill the load completely and toss in that yucky item.
When doing the laundry, wash clothes on the coolest setting possible. This may save hot water and electricity. However, if clothes have gross stains that could harbor bacteria, opt for hot water (if the item can be washed on hot).
The same rule applies to the dishwasher. Running partial loads may just be a waste of energy and money. Instead, wait for the dishes to fill up the dishwasher before starting a wash cycle.
Don’t Linger in the Shower
A simple way to save electricity? Don’t take a long shower! If the hot water heater is electric, then that long hot shower is making the heater work harder. Instead, opt for a shorter shower. Homeowners may even set an alarm.
Buy Energy-Efficient Appliances
If the refrigerator, washer/dryer or other appliance needs to be replaced, opt for an energy-efficient replacement. These appliances maximize energy use and may help homeowners save money over time.
Energy-efficient appliances come in different price points. Shop around to find the best deals! Some may even qualify for rebates!
Swap Out Old Light Bulbs
Homeowners may still have a supply of incandescent bulbs. If those old bulbs are still lighting the home, switch them out for LED, which are more energy-efficient. This is an easy way to save electricity!
Use the Internet of Things
It’s a smart world, and now with so many different devices, we can program appliances to turn on and off with the command of our voice. Smart plugs and power strips are compatible with different virtual assistants. Apps connected to devices also can allow homeowners to turn off appliances remotely.
The Internet of Things can help some busy homeowners keep an eye on electricity-sucking appliances and make adjustments as needed.
Conduct a Home Energy Audit
Opening up an electricity bill and being jolted by the price isn’t a good feeling. Homeowners may not have any clue why their most recent bill is so high. Are windows poorly insulated? Is there a leak somewhere? Did someone kick up the thermostat?
To take control of those electricity costs, conduct a home energy audit. While you can hire a professional to handle the audit, homeowners also can conduct a home energy audit by themselves. Visit each room of the home and examine electrical outlets including power strips; unplug any appliance or gadget that isn’t in use. This is also the time to check and adjust the temperature on the HVAC. Remember to open up cabinets under sinks and examine pipes for any leaks. Dripping faucets also need to be repaired. Check windows and feel for any cool air that’s leaking into the home.
To assist with the home energy audit, homeowners also can download HomeSelfe. Take a photo of each room, and the app will find any energy drains. Homeowners also will be prompted to enter data about energy costs and use. HomeSelfe also can help homeowners find rebates, too. The app is free to download from either Google Play the App Store.
Take control of the electricity costs today. Make small changes to correct bad habits, adjust thermostats on the HVAC and the hot water heater, wait to run the dishwasher and washing machine until loads are full, switch to LED bulbs, and consider using the Internet of Things to maximize control over energy use. Homeowners who can’t seem to figure out why their bill is so high also can conduct a home energy audit to discover the energy drains in the home.