Saving on Your Electricity Bill

save money on your electricity billThere’s no getting around it: in order to save money on your electricity bill you need to reduce the amount of energy being consumed around the home. That much is obvious.

There is a large variety of ways you can cut down on residential electricity usage, with some requiring less effort and expense than others.

But you may be surprised by just how much you can cut down your bill. Many of us are guilty of extremely inefficient energy usage: the good news is that many of the changes are not difficult to make.

Easy Ways to Reduce Your Electricity Bill

  • Turn off appliances like televisions, DVD players, phone chargers and so forth at the power-point when they are not being used. If you don’t, leaving them in standby mode is burning electricity for no purpose and wasting your money.
  • Washing machines should ideally be set to cold water wash (or warm if need be), not hot. And instead of throwing the washing straight into the dryer, why not hang it up to dry on a line?
  • If you use a dishwasher, use the energy saver cycle and make sure the load is full before running.
  • Your refrigerator may be set to a lower temperature than it really needs. Refrigerators can be responsible for  approximately 20 percent of all home electricity usage, so making even a small adjustment to the temperature will save you money. The ideal temperature is 37 to 40°F (3 to 5°C)
  • If you have an old refrigerator, you may want to consider getting a newer, more energy efficient model. Old models are generally inefficient and burn a lot of power.
  • Electric water heaters are another appliance where changes can be made – turn down your water heater to 130°F (55°C). Many water heaters are set to 140 degrees (60°C), and this small change will make a noticeable difference to your bill. While some suggest lowering it to 120°F (49°C), this does increase the risk of Legionnaire’s disease.
  • If you have air-conditioning, be sure to keep the filters clean as a dirty filter reduces the efficiency of the unit. Also, many of us have the temperature set far too low during the summer: raising it even by a few degrees will further help reduce your electricity bill.
  • Consider using fans instead of turning on the air conditioner – they are far more energy-efficient.
  • When boiling water for a cup of coffee or tea, be sure to not over-fill the kettle. Many of us fill or half-the the kettle by instinct, and doing it just for one hot drink is a waste of your money.
  • Energy-efficient lightbulbs consume anything from 20% to 75% less electricity than regular incandescents (the old style lightbulb), and can last many times longer – this is a change that is easy to make and brings great rewards. They are a little more expensive to buy, but the reduction in energy consumption is worth it.
  • When shopping for appliances, look for models featuring the Energy Saver label: cheaper models are often less energy efficient and may actually work out more expensive in the long run when you factor in energy costs.
  • In addition, choose appliances that are the correct size for your needs. Steer clear of oversized appliances if you do not really require that much capacity.
  • Do you use an electric blanket during the winter? If so, why not try an old fashioned hot water bottle instead? Remove the electric blanket for a week and try it: not only will this reduce electricity usage, it also means you will not be sleeping in the electromagnetic field that an electric blanket creates. Water from the hot water bottle can be used in the garden the following day.
  • Switching electricity companies: depending which state you live in (Texas is the leader here), you may be able to reduce your bill simply by switching energy providers. This is very common in countries like the UK and Australia, and parts of Canada. As you are only actually switching the retailer and not the power supply company, there is no disruption to service.

Tips for Insulating Your Home

If you use electric heating or air conditioning at home, a longer term strategy for reducing your bill is to ensure your home is properly insulated. Insulation reduces the heat exchange between surfaces, meaning your home loses less warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer.

Walls, ceilings and attics should all – ideally – have insulation. These areas make up the envelope of your home and are crucial when it comes to keeping the temperature inside regulated.

It will also add to the resale value of your home, due to it’s increased energy efficiency.

There are different types of home insulation, including fiberglass, mineral wool and cellulose.

  • Fiberglass is the most commonly used type of home insulation. You can get loose fill or batts. The batts are easier to install than loose fill. Both types of fiberglass insulation are water-resistant and flame resistant. With batt insulation, the backing is placed towards the center of the home.
  • Mineral wool insulation is a bit more expensive and less common than fiberglass, but doesn’t make the skin itchy the way working with fiberglass insulation does. Cellulose insulation is an organic loose material made with recycled paper that is chemically treated to be moisture and pest resistant.

Regardless of which type of insulation you choose, make sure to insulate all possible walls, floors and ceilings. Some countries – including Australia and the United Kingdom – have government subsidized programs for home insulation. This is far less common in the United states: check DSIRE for more information.

Weatherizing Your Home

Weatherizing is easy and relatively low cost, and also helps insulate your home. Use caulk and weather stripping to seal cracks around windows and doors where air leaks in and out. Caulking can be done for around $1 per window (or less), and weatherstripping each door can cost less than $10. Despite the low expense, weatherizing can save over 1000lbs of CO2 emissions per annum in the average residence.

Improving Your Home’s Exterior Can Save Electricity
Did you know by making a few improvements to the exterior of your home, you can save on the cost of your electricity bill? For example, the paint color of your house can make a difference. Those living in cold climates should choose dark shades while those in hot climates should choose light shades when it comes to house painting.

Homeowners in warm climates can also benefit by planting plenty of shade trees on the property. The shade provided by ample tree life can make a difference in energy consumption. It’s estimated that by painting your home an energy-saving color and planting shade trees, you can save over 2 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

While some of these electricity saving tips may seem minor, over a longer period of time you will see a considerable reduction in your monthly electricity bill.