Do you get a sinking feeling every time you open utility bills? It doesn’t have to be this way. Lowering your electric bill by a few dollars each month can add up to a chunk of money saved over the course of the year. But how to save electricity and cut your bill, without making major sacrifices to the comfort in your home?
It is possible! Below you will find 25 smart ways to save both energy and money. You will find out how to save on electricity, how to pay less for your service and how to make simple changes in your home and save money.
1# Switch Electric Suppliers
There are currently 18 US states with electricity deregulation. In practice, it means that if you pay energy bills in one of these states each month, you have the power to choose what the price will be. Switching electric suppliers is easy, secure and it often involves only a few clicks of your computer mouse.
That is not to say that you shouldn’t do your research before you make the jump. Our website ElectricRate has done the heavy lifting for you –when you enter your zip code, we compare all the available electric rates in your area to show you only the best deals.
2# Use Free Electricity
We know, free electricity sounds too good to be true. However, many electric suppliers offer plans with free nights or free weekend options, where the electricity you use at home between Friday and Sunday, or overnight comes with a zero price tag. Suppliers don’t offer free energy out of altruism, but because they want to shift the load to off-peak times when it’s cheaper. If you are willing to run your washing machine or a dishwasher at night, you can be saving a lot of money at the end of the month.
3# Shop for an Introductory Rate
Many electric suppliers offer introductory rates or promo codes to new customers, that will enable you to lock in a great deal for a cheaper price. Many suppliers also offer a free smart home product, such as a programmable thermostat, when you first sign up, to encourage you to start saving electricity.
4# Find the Right Energy Tariff
Energy plans are like shoes. One size does not fit all. The electric suppliers offer many different energy plans and you should be familiar with each option’s pros and cons. However, navigating through complex unfamiliar information about power rates can be daunting, so we did the heavy lifting for you. Below is a brief overview of the most commonly offered energy products:
|Fixed Term Plans - This plan will lock the price you pay per kWh for the duration of the contract, no matter how much the wholesale electricity price varies. These plans are most often the cheaper option, but usually carry cancellation fees, if you decide to exit the contract early.|
|Variable Rate Plans - There is no locked in rate and the price you pay for a unit of electricity might be cheaper one month and more expensive the next month. The plus side is that there is no commitment to stick to it for a fixed period and you can switch anytime.|
|Green / renewable plans - If you are concerned about your carbon footprint, many electric suppliers offer you the choice of an energy plan, sourced entirely or partially from renewable energy, such as wind or solar. These plans can have either variable- or a fixed rate form.|
|Prepaid plans - This plan lets you pre-purchase power for your home at a set price, like a prepaid cell phone. This isn’t for the forgetful ones - if you don’t remember to top up your plan, you might find yourself without electricity half-way through a hot shower.|
5# Know your Energy Usage
The advertised electricity rates you will find on electric suppliers’ websites are almost always based on specific energy usage and they vary, according to how much electricity do you use on a regular basis. The key to avoiding overpaying for electricity is having a good idea about how many kWh / month does your household or business normally use.
The easiest way to find out how much power you use is to look at your electricity bill, but there are also various online tools to help you estimate it.
Now that we looked at how to reduce utility bills, without yet having to use less energy, let’s dive into the tips to save electricity by reducing your usage. This part usually gets a bad rep, because no one likes to change the way they behave at home, utility bills be damned!
The good news is that there are multiple easy ways to save electricity at home, which will require only very small adjustments from you and honestly, you probably won’t even notice the difference.
Imagine each room in your home to be full of easter eggs, containing utility bill savings. Let’s find them all!
6# Cook in Bulk
Your kitchen appliances use the same amount of energy, whether they are full or half-full, so whether you boil two potatoes or a pot-full, your energy consumption is about the same! Use your weekends to meal prep for the upcoming week if you can – you will both reduce your utility bill and be grateful to have a meal ready when you get home after a long day at work.
7# Use your Lids
On average, you preserve about 3% more energy when you cover your pots and pans with a lid, then without. That might not seem like a lot, but it sure adds up over the month. Plus, your water will boil faster, so you’ll be done with cooking sooner.
8# Turn Off the Oven
If you turn the oven off about 5 – 10 minutes before the meal is done cooking, the leftover heat will easily finish the job fo you.
9# Invest in ENERGY STAR Appliances
A home outfitted with ENERGY STAR certified products will use about 35% less energy and potentially save you $250 or more per year on utility bills. It might cost you a bit more upfront, but these appliances will pay for themselves in the first cycle in electricity savings.
10# Stop Pre-Rinsing
This little nugget of information might save you a chunk of time and money – here it goes. Most of the newer model dishwashers are already designed to break down food particles from dishes, so there is no need to pre-rinse them. Your dishes will be sparkling clean regardless and you will save up to 6000 gallons of water.
11# Get a Water-Saving Showerhead
Did you know that you use an estimated 60 liters of water every time you shower? This affects your electric bill in two ways – you pay money for the used water and you pay money for heating that water. To eliminate this shower conundrum, you could invest in water-saving showerheads that restrict the volume of water that flows through them. These clever tools can save up to half the used water and pay for themselves within two months of using.
12# Wash your Clothes on Cold
Did you know that an incredible 75% of the energy required for a load of laundry goes into heating the water? One estimate suggests that washing your clothes of cold on 60 degrees Fahrenheit can save you at least $60 annually in utilities. Cold wash is good for your clothes too – it makes the colors last longer and clothes retain their size and shape. No brainer!
13# Insulate your Water Tank
When on standby, your uninsulated water tank is responsible for 25%–45% energy losses. One of the clever and surprisingly cheap ways to save money and energy is buying a tank jacket or blanket from your hardware store (approx. $20) and watching this simple DIY guide to insulating your tank.
14# Reduce your Hot Water Temperature
No one likes cold water when you shower. But if your water heater thermostat is set at 140ºF by default, you might not only be burning through $61 annually in standby heat losses but potentially also facing a safety hazard—scalding. Reducing your water heater temperature to 120ºF will not only save you money but will slow mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes.
15# Be Stingy with Water
We know.. Who doesn’t like to draw a long bath or spend twenty minutes in the hot shower every day? Or consider this scenario – you turned on the shower, but water is not hot enough. So you brush your teeth, check your mail – all the while the water runs. Some research suggests, that 41% of hot water energy goes to waste. Our point? Save a lot of money on energy bills by using less water with these simple ways to save:
- Not letting the water run continuously while you brush your teeth or apply shampoo in your hair
- Taking quick showers instead of long baths
- Using the lowest water setting for your laundry load
16# Get a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat will automatically turn off or reduce the heating and cooling of your living space when you are away or asleep and can save you up to $180 per year. Some newer versions can learn your daily routines and program themselves, like the Nest thermostat from Google. A pro tip –some electric suppliers offer a free programmable thermostat device when you sign up for one of their electric plans, so keep an eye out when you shop for energy rates
17# Invest in Energy-Efficient LED Light Bulbs
When you need to buy new light bulbs, replace them with LEDs. Incredibly, LED light bulbs use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting. That means that if you currently have 30 light bulbs at home, you can save up to $200 in a year if you upgrade all light bulbs to LEDs. Plus, they will last you a lot longer!
18# Turn Off your Computer
We know, no one wants to wait for the PC or the laptop to reboot in the morning (though it often takes less than 2 minutes). However, by not putting your laptop in the sleeping mode or turning it off, you’re burning through an extra 34 dollars on your annual energy bill. When you switch off for the day, your computer should too! If you want to save energy and reduce your electricity costs, get in the habit of always putting your computer in sleeping mode before going to bed.
19# Use Indoor Plants
One of our favorite ways to save on energy? Indoor plants such as Golden Pothos and Gerbera daisies release moisture and moist air is better at trapping in heat. That means that you can reduce your thermostat a bit lower and at the same time, enjoy the jungle-like green looks and feels while resting on your sofa with a good book.
20# Replace your Traditional Gas or Wood Fireplace
A traditional fireplace literally burns through energy by sending heat through the chimney, in addition to not being very environmentally-friendly. Consider an eco cousin of the wood fireplace – a smoke-free gel fireplace, that doesn’t need gas, wood or a chimney. A basic model starts at $200.
21# Install New Energy-Conserving Windows
Heat gain and heat loss through windows are responsible for 25%–30% of your energy bill. If you are selecting windows for new construction, you should select the ENERGY STAR label, which can save you at least $100 over the course of the year.
22# Increase the Energy Efficiency of Your Installed Windows
Upgrading the windows in your entire house can be expensive. If your windows are still in good condition, the most cost-efficient option to increase the comfort for your home and save money on energy is following a few simple steps:
- Add exterior shading, shutters, screens, and awnings to provide an extra layer of insulation
- Add storm windows or panels
- Weatherize your windows with this cool DIY guide
23# Unplug Electronics Before Bedtime
Get in a habit of unplugging appliances you are not using, or before you go to bed – be it lamps, laptops or a stereo. Even items that are turned off with a button still consume electricity and when added up, cost you a few extra dollars on your utility bill. Consider getting a smart power strip, which shuts off electronics that are no longer in use, to avoid high standby power costs.
24# Close your Blinds
…in summer and open them up in winter. You can save a significant amount of money on your energy bills by using your blinds to your advantage. Closed blinds can reduce the room temperature by a few degrees and eliminate the need to turn on the air conditioner or a ceiling fan. In winter, they let the sunshine in and make the room warmer.
25# Turn the Lights Off Before You Go To Sleep
A 60-watt light bulb uses 60 watts of electricity per hour, which can add up at the end of the day. If you regularly fall asleep with your lights on at home, this can add up on your utility bills. If you are one of the people who doesn’t like pitch dark when falling asleep, consider adding a dimmer switch to your lights to save money.
There you have it – your 25 easter eggs. Don’t get overwhelmed by starting to replace everything at your home at once. Just like with an actual easter hunt, you need a strategy and a plan – and then tackle these clever ways to save money one by one.
You can start by reading this guide on how to reduce electric bills by switching suppliers.