Rich or poor, we could all use a little frugality in our lives. After all, who wants to waste money on electricity bills when there are far more fun ways to spend it? Remember your grandmother? — the one who insisted on wearing a sweater instead of putting on the heat, well she was a smart lady and we can learn a few things about the way our frugal ancestors lived. With today’s modern amenities and energy saving appliances, there really is no excuse to be an energy-hog. Conserving energy is better for our pocket books and our planet. Let’s look at 10 ways to save money on your electricity bill— things that you can implement today and possibly see results as soon as the next bill arrives. By now you already know that you need to seal your home with caulking and weatherstripping, so we are not going to beat that idea into you any more, but read through these insightful tips to see what else you can do to save some green (in our pocketbooks and on our planet).
1) Saving Money With A Smart Home Increase your comfort levels and save money by making your home smart. There are so many ways to convert your home into a smart, energy-efficient , well-oiled machine just by embracing some modern technologies. Programmable thermostats are a great first step that can make your home more energy savvy. Modern thermostats, such as this one by Nest, learn your families temperature habits and begin to mimic them, turning off the heat/air when you are not home or turning it up during the hottest/coldest times of day when climate control is a must. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the average family can save $180 per year just by installing a properly programmed thermostat. You can make your whole home “smart” by using one of the numerous whole home automation kits that are currently on the market. These automation systems allow you to control your lighting, temperatures, alarm and even window coverings from your phone. What a great modern convenience that will save big on your electricity bills! Invest in modern technology and make your home an energy genius.
2) Install Ceiling Fans Your homes are often too stuffy due to poor air circulation. Ceiling fans allow air to be circulated more efficiently, saving you a lot of money in costly air conditioning. You can actually turn your air conditioning a few degrees warmer when a ceiling fan is pushing cool air down onto you—adding up to a lot of savings by the end of a hot summer. While a ceiling fan doesn’t really have a drastic effect on the actual temperature of the house, it does make you feel cooler when you are sitting or sleeping under one. Why? Because the air flow on your skin is evaporating sweat and making you feel cooler. A ceiling fan can even help lower energy costs into the winter months. Simply look for the reverse switch near the top of your fan unit, making the fan blades rotate in the opposite direction, thereby pushing the hot air that is trapped up near the ceiling down to you and your living space.
3) Replace Lightbulbs By now everyone is aware of this fact: Switching out your lightbulbs to the amazingly efficient LED’s is just plain smart. At first these new LED’s were a decorators nightmare with their ugly bright coils that ruin the look of your high-end lamps and add a harsh glare, making the room anything but inviting. However, the appearance of this technology has improved over time— there are a lot of options available that look like real lightbulbs (hiding the coils inside) and they emit attractive shades of light. Considering the fact that the average household uses 11% of its energy budget on lighting—it is definitely time to switch to modern LED’s that can reduce lighting energy use by 50% to 75 %, according to InterNACHI. Get a warmly lit room and save money with modern LED bulbs—it’s the best of both!
4) Unplug Here is a little known fact: Even when your appliances are not in use, they are still sucking power if they are plugged in. Look around your home, how many appliances are currently plugged in that are not in use? Your computer? Your toaster? Your lamps? Your televisions? According to the US Department of Energy these appliances are adding 10% to 15% to your annual energy bill. Unplugging these unused items can add up to a yearly savings of up to 220$. Here is the problem: it would be a major pain to go around unplugging devices on a daily basis. You could decide to simply unplug the devices that you rarely use or you could invest in a few power strips which allow you to turn off multiple devices with the click of one switch. Either way, unplugging is a smart energy-saving tip that everyone should consider.
5) Replace Your Water Heater With a Tankless One This step is a bit more time-consuming and costly but let’s read about it anyway—after all, the initial investment is worth it when you live in a busy household that uses a lot of hot water, and it’s better than yelling at your kids every five seconds to, “Hurry up and get out of the shower, already!” Tankless water heaters provide hot water on an as-needed basis; They are not using up a lot of wasted energy by constantly heating a full tank of stored water. Tankless water heaters only heat the water when it is turned on. According to Energy.gov, an energy star-rated tankless water heater can save the average household around $100 per year. While these tankless units are more costly than their less efficient counterparts, they typically last longer (typical lifespan of 20 years), making the investment more worthwhile. If you don’t want to spend the extra money on a new water heater, then consider simply turning down the thermostat by a few degrees on your current water heater—it’s better than doing nothing, and every little bit helps in the long run.
6) Open Windows at Night, Shut Curtains During Day Anybody can do this and it doesn’t cost you a dime to implement. Your homes can cool down by 10 to 15 degrees at night by simply opening up your windows and letting the fresh air in! Add to this a ceiling fan and you may actually be a tad chilly even in mid-July. During daylight hours, the bright, glaring midday sun can heat up our homes drastically, causing us to crank the Air conditioning (A/C) unit to high. Instead, try installing blackout curtain panels to your windows or blackout shades. By closing these window treatments when the sun is high, you block out the harsh, hot rays and cool your home dramatically—without the A/C. This takes us back to the modern conveniences of smart home automation which would allow us to control our window panels/blinds with the touch of a button—even when we are not home. Now that is efficiency at its best!
7) Harness the Power of Sun While solar panels are not something we can implement easily, they are becoming more popular for homeowners who prefer to go green. Solar panel systems can be costly with some units running upwards of $10,000, but most States have Federal credit that can alleviate this cost drastically. You can research tax incentives by State. Here is the amazing news—Forbes cites that solar panels are equivalent to planting 88 trees per year, drastically reducing your carbon footprint AND saving an average of 84$ per month on your electricity bills. That sounds like a win-win— for you and for the environment. On top of the initial price of these units, you also have to incur the cost of hiring a professional to install it, making your upfront costs pretty drastic. This is why there are a lot of people leasing or financing solar panels systems— low interest rates and the increase in value of your home make this something worthy of contemplation.
8) Research Your Local Energy Savings Programs Are your appliances old and outdated? Do you still have that washer and dryer set you got 13 years ago when you were first married? These old but trusty appliances are energy hogs and are costing you a lot! In the United States, the purchase of Energy Star appliances is on the rise. Want to know exactly how much money you can save by replacing your refrigerator or any other big appliance with an Energy Star one? Click here for this handy calculator that tells you just exactly how much money you are wasting each month. Upgrading to Energy Star appliances also comes with great rebates that reduce the upfront cost by as much as $100 per appliance. With so many Energy Star appliances flooding the market, it may be hard to find one that isn’t energy efficient in the near future, forcing us all to get a bit more green. Research your local energy savings programs to see what is offered—upgrading to more efficient appliances can really save you money!
9) Replace Your Furnace Filter Furnace filters can be expensive. With most disposable models costing up to $20 and needing to be changed every 3 months. This makes some of us neglect changing our filters on a timely basis and extending their use up to 6 months, but this is a costly mistake. The use of old, dirty filters causes our heating and ventilating systems to run less efficiently, causing strain on the system and costing us more money. A strained ventilation system equals a shorter life span, and it would definitely be more expensive to cause an un-timely death of our home heating systems than to just go out and buy a new filter every three months. You can also purchase re-usable furnace filters that can be taken out for cleaning and then popped back in place. These filters cost a bit more upfront, but are worth considering if the idea of buying a new one every three months seems too much. Replace your dirty furnace filters today and breathe fresh air into your home.
10) Use Cold Water Brrrr! No one wants to take a cold shower, so we will not recommend that—even though it would save you a lot in hot water heating costs. However, your clothes on the other hand would be happy to be washed in cold water, in fact, they would probably last longer if you did. With the availability of detergents that are meant for cold water washing, most clothes can be properly cleaned in cold water, unless they are really soiled. The absolute ultimate way to save on your monthly electricity bills would be to wash most of your clothes on the cold cycle in an Energy Star washer, so give your high electricity bill the cold shoulder by washing in cold water whenever possible—your clothes and your wallet will thank you.
Frugality can be fun—especially when money that would otherwise be wasted on electricity bills can be used for the finer things in life. There are so many ways to reduce your electricity bills— using smart technology; changing lightbulbs to LED’s; installing ceiling fans; unplugging unused devices; shutting our curtains during day/opening windows at night; replacing dirty furnace filters; upgrading to Energy Star appliances; using solar power; using more cold water; and installing a tankless water heater and the list goes on…. Start investing in your future (and the planet) by saving money and reducing your carbon footprint with these easy to implement energy-saving tasks. When the next electricity bill arrives, you will be glad you did. What do you do to save money on your electricity bills?