One of the questions most consumers ask when researching home utilities is, “How can I save on energy and lower my bill?”
The typical responses include tips like “turn off your lights when you don’t need them” or “unplug electronic appliances to avoid standby mode.” There are, however, more specific things you can do that might not immediately come to mind. Here are a few energy saving tips to lower your bills.
One of the most frequent activities in many households is doing laundry. It’s no secret that washers and dryers eat up a lot of energy. So when doing your laundry:
- use machines at capacity (full loads)
- try to use cold water when possible
- when drying a second load, set a timer to unload the first load and immediately make the switch when the drum is still heated
- and remember to clean the lint filter after every load to avoid clogging, which causes the dryer to be less efficient due to limited airflow
Similar to washers and dryers, you can save energy by using the dishwasher only at capacity. Also, if you own a newer model, you most likely don’t have to pre-rinse your dishes with warm water because the machine will do the job for you – another way to save on water and heat costs.
Keep It Cool
While consistently blowing cool air, you might not always be able to tell how cool the air really is and if your air conditioner unit is, in fact, working efficiently. After a while (especially in old models), air filters can get dirty and the Freon coolant levels too low. The result? Air conditioners start – without you noticing a difference in the efficiency level – using up much more energy to maintain the same cool air that you have become used to. So make sure to frequently clean or exchange the filter and keep the Freon coolant at the right level to avoid an increase in your electric bill.
Turn Down the Heat
Here are two statistics you might find interesting:
1) The Alliance to Save Energy says you save approximately three percent on heating costs for every one degree you lower the thermostat.
2) The EPA has stated that a heater set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher can cost you more than $400 on a yearly basis just to bring fresh water up to high temperatures. So turn it down to about 120 on average and turn it off entirely when you are not at home for longer periods of time, because it could keep heating your water to maintain a kind of standby mode.
Speaking of heating; you should consider installing a programmable thermostat, which automatically controls cooling and heating appliances at maximum efficiency. Also, like with air conditioners, you can save on gas by investing into newer heater models, such as modern natural gas furnaces or natural gas water heaters, which might save you as much as 20% in operating costs.
Anytime hot or cool air enters the building some temperature-related appliance starts working harder to make up for the difference. So it’s not only important to keep windows and doors closed as much as possible, but to also seal any cracks that might exist between your windows (or doors) and their frames with materials like foam, caulk, or draft guards. Pay special attention to places like the attic, crawl spaces and the basement.
In addition to sealing cracks, consider installing insulation around the house, especially in the attic, to keep outside conditions from impacting your inside temperatures.
Use Your Shades
Shades not only block outside light from entering your room, but they are also great devices to help control your home’s interior temperatures. For example, keeping your shades closed at night during winter months can help block heat from escaping “out the window.”
Similarly, if you keep them shut during hot summer days, sunlight will be blocked and it will stay much cooler inside. During winter months, you should keep shades open during cold days to allow sunlight to enter and keep it warm inside.
Last but not least, check in with your electricity provider, because some of them offer different rates at different hours, for example lower prices during “off-peak periods” when less people than usual utilize energy (e.g. weekends, holidays, and weekdays from approximately 10 p.m. to 10 a.m.). In some cases, prices vary by as much as 40 percent.
A few changes can mean the difference between your average utility bill, and one that eats up your savings. You can perform an Energy audit of your home, or use Homeselfe for a guided audit and report that will tell you exactly what needs to be done to lower your electric bill.