Household bills can add up to a fortune every month if you’re not careful, and sometimes it can feel impossible to lower the cost of your power bill. We often hear the same energy-saving tips, over and over again: “turn off the lights”, “use less water”, or “put on a sweater”, and while each of these will make an impact on your energy bill, sometimes it’s just not enough.
This is why we wanted to share 10 less common, but even more effective, ways to lower your energy usage. If you follow each of the tips in this article, you could cut your energy bill by up to 50 percent!
#1: Unplug Your Electronics
All things plugged in will draw energy, even when they’re turned off! Any device with a transformer (the black boxes on power cords), draws energy whether it is in use or not, including chargers! This is often referred to as “phantom” energy makes up 5-10 percent of a family home’s annual energy usage, that’s an entire month’s bill!
Instead of plugging them directly into the wall, plug them into a power strip & turn off the power switch when you’re not using them to save on electricity. There are also many types of “smart” power strips to make it even easier. Some operate on motion sensors or timers, while others have an “always-on” socket that acts as a master device to control power to other devices.
#2: Clean Your Air Filters
HVAC systems are often ignored, but frequently changing the air filter helps with efficiency as a dirty or clogged filter causes your HVAC system to work harder, which uses much more fuel or electricity to keep your home warm or cool. Considering your HVAC system makes up approximately 50 percent of your energy use and that a dirty filter could cause it’s energy consumption to be 15 percent higher, you could be saving as much as 7.5 percent on your total energy bill just by regularly changing the filter!
New air filters for HVAC systems usually cost between $10-$20 and professionals recommend changing them at least every 3 months. These filters usually pay for themselves when you consider the energy savings. For example, a home with an average monthly energy bill of $100 would save approximately $7.50 per month by changing the filter, which adds up to $22.50 over 3 months.
#3: Weatherproof Your Home
Caulk and weatherstrip your window and door frames to prevent air leaks. This small step can improve your home’s efficiency by up to 20 percent.
Caulking is considered the classic weatherization tactic. It is cheap, it works, and anyone can do it. For best results, use an acrylic latex caulk with added silicon, it costs slightly more than traditional caulk, but will last you up to 10 years. The most important places to caulk include: joints between the top of windows and the ceiling, around ceiling lights, around bathroom vents, and above soil stack penetrations.
In cracks that are too wide for caulk, use long strips of foam or vinyl weatherstripping. Weatherstripping usually comes in rolls and can be pushed into place by hand. Key areas to weatherstrip include: around the chimney, access panel(s) to the attic, and sill plates near the house foundation.
#4: Upgrade Your Appliances
While upgrading appliances can be a big investment upfront, if you choose more energy-efficient models you’ll actually save in the long run when you consider the electricity cost to power the appliance. Additionally, many local utilities offer rebates for purchasing an eco-friendly certified appliance.
Eco-friendly appliances not only use less water but have also been proven to use between 20-50 percent less energy than traditional appliances. With older fridges being one of the worst culprits, using DOUBLE the energy of a new, eco-friendly fridge on average. Meaning that you could save about $270 over the next five years just by purchasing a new, efficient refrigerator.
#5: Improve Laundry Efficiency
Washing your laundry with cold water and in bigger loads will help reduce the amount of energy and water you’re using. Particularly in older machines, up to 90 percent of the energy used by your washer is used to heat the water, meaning just by switching the setting on your washing machine you could dramatically reduce your energy bill.
Despite many clothing tags calling for warm water washing, virtually all clothes can be washed in cold water without damaging them. Switching to cold water washing is now easier than ever since there are countless cold-water laundry detergents on the market.
#6: Lower The Temperature
While we like to be toasty while we sleep, lowering the temperature in your home at night will help save a lot of energy. Additionally, keeping your bedroom at a colder temperature can actually help you sleep better. As previously mentioned, with your HVAC making up about 50 percent of your energy bill, by lowering the temperature from 70F (21C) to 61F (16C) at night you could be saving as much as 10 percent on your energy bill.
A common argument against this is that it costs more to heat your home from a colder temperature, virtually eliminating any savings. However, this is a misconception. The amount of energy needed to bring your home back to normal temperature is approximately the same as the energy that was saved when it first dropped. Meaning that the longer your house remains at a lower temperature, the more money you save.
#7: Get a Smart Thermostat
Have you ever considered how crazy it is to leave the heat on when you leave the house? Most people have access to a programmable thermostat that allows them to turn it off at certain times to save on energy. But the traditional programmable thermostat can only do so much, installing a smart thermostat will allow you to save even more without having to think about it! Many different models exist, all with their unique features, some are even capable of learning your behaviors and automatically adjusting their settings accordingly.
#8: Swap Your Bulbs
Swap out any remaining incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. While some energy-saving incandescent bulbs now use up to 25 percent less energy, this is nothing compared to the savings you’ll see from CFL or LED bulbs.
A typical CFL bulb will pay for itself in energy savings after less than 9 months, and then will start saving you money. Not only does it use about 30 percent of the energy needed for an incandescent bulb, but it also lasts ten times longer. An LED bulb uses even less energy than a CFL bulb, requiring only 20-25 percent of the energy used by an incandescent bulb, and lasting up to 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb.
#9: Put Your Lights on a Timer
We’ve all gone to bed and left the front porch light on all night. Put your exterior lights on a timer and sleep knowing you aren’t tossing money out the window. Certain timers can even automatically adjust their schedule throughout the year to account for changing sunrise and sunset times. Additionally, while it would consume some energy, purchasing a timer would also provide additional security when you are away from your home for an extended period of time by giving the illusion that you are home, without having to leave the lights on for the entire day.
#10: Get a Low-Flow Shower Head
Lastly, install low-flow showerheads. It’s a small adjustment to make that you’ll quickly get used to. A standard showerhead uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute, it is recommended to use one that uses no more than 2 gallons per minute for optimal energy savings. By using a low-flow showerhead you could save up to 3.5 percent on your energy bill and save 2,900 gallons of water annually. While a low-flow showerhead may cost up to $35, it could save the average household $40 annually in energy costs.
Get Saving Today
Home energy costs usually make up a large portion of a households budget, which makes it a natural first target for lowering total household expenditure. While many people believe that the amount you pay is uncontrollable, the truth is that you have nearly total control over how much you need to pay.