Homeowners are always asking each other to share tips on how to save on electricity bills and put some money back into their pockets. For those searching for cheap electricity, many Texas cities have the advantage of being within a deregulated electricity market. Deregulation has raised the level of competition in the market, lowering utility prices and raising customer expectations. While this particular method of slashing utility bills may be limited to Texas’ deregulated market, other means of lowering monthly utility costs are available no matter where you live. Check out the tips below to learn different ways to save money on utilities and reduce your expenses while improving the overall energy efficiency of your home.
15 TIPS TO HELP YOU SAVE ON UTILITY EXPENSES
1. Have an HVAC inspection.
Hiring a certified technician to check the home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system is a great way to save electricity and money for the long run. The process involves checking airflow and filters, and treating any components that improve the overall efficiency of the system. The expense of hiring an inspector is offset by the amount of money you will save on your utility costs each month. Even the simple act of fixing leaking ducts can save electricity and up to 20% on your utility bills. Inspections are also advantageous because technicians can catch otherwise undetected problems that would have cost a large sum of money down the road.
2. Choose the right power.
Energy Star is an EPA program that uses energy efficiency to protect the environment while also helping individuals and businesses reduce costs. To aid in these efforts, Energy Star has published guidelines for homeowners to promote optimal conditions in the home for efficiency and saving electricity and money. Consult these guidelines of how to save electricity when deciding how powerful your heating or air conditioning unit needs to be. A unit that is too powerful will use more energy than you need, wasting your money. It will also be less effective at controlling humidity.
3. Clean your air conditioner.
Dirt and dust reduce airflow and impede your air conditioner’s effectiveness. Over time, they gradually build up in the machine, preventing normal circulation. This blockage forces the air conditioner to work harder, which subsequently requires more electricity and will contribute to higher utility bills. To prevent this, clean your air conditioner every month. Also, move curtains or furniture that obstruct airflow to decrease utility costs.
4. Mind the thermostat.
The heating and cooling of homes is a major contributor to the high cost of utilities each month. However, if we make the right adjustments to the way we manipulate our thermostats there is opportunity for considerable savings. According to Energy Star, adjusting your programmable thermostat to run at higher temperatures while you are at work can cut your utility bill by $180 each year. You can also manipulate the temperature on your programmable thermostat to be a few degrees higher or lower while you sleep, guaranteeing easy savings. Save money on utilities by running things a bit warmer at home during hot months or a bit cooler during the winter months.
5. Invest in energy-efficient appliances.
Switching to more efficient appliances all at once is an easy way to have long term savings on your utility costs. Energy-efficient appliances optimize the power they are supplied, ensuring that homeowners get exactly what they need from them, for less. Even better, energy-efficient appliances can be cheaper upfront than their less efficient counterparts. When considering switching your dishwasher, dryer, refrigerator or another large appliance, research available incentives, as you may qualify for a tax credit or rebate just for buying appliances that are energy-efficient.
6. Check the hot water heater.
Double check the settings that your equipment was left on. This is particularly important for your hot water heater, one of the greatest expenses in the home. For those with a tank water heater that maintains a store of warm water, it is common for manufacturers to set the default temperature higher than necessary. One of the most popular ways to save on your utility expenses is to decrease the temperature to between 120 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows you to receive the hot water you desire, requires less energy to maintain and prevents the water from reaching dangerous scalding levels.
7. Cutback on the unnecessary.
Be mindful of what you use infrequently or are able to do without. This is commonly cable services, as it costs a lot to receive programming and the box itself requires electricity. If you have a smart TV, consider cutting the cord from the cable company and supplementing with an internet streaming service. You can also consider removing clunky desktop computers if you don’t use them often and have another primary computer in your home.
8. Look for leaks.
The spaces around doors and windows will gradually wear down due to time and weather, creating tiny leaks for air to escape. These leaks contribute to nearly 30% of loss in heating and cooling energy in the average home and drastically increases your utility bills. Luckily, these small openings can be sealed with caulking and weatherstripping, helping you save as much as 20% of your monthly energy costs. To locate leaks, find the drafty spots in your home and light incense around these doors and windows to see if the smoke moves. If it is drawn outwards, mark the spot. You can then begin the process of sealing.
9. Change your bulbs.
Replace burned out light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. LED bulbs are the most efficient on the market, can last up to 50 times as an incandescent bulb, and converts 80-90% of their energy into light. Non-efficient light bulbs can only convert around 20% of their energy and the other 80% is emitted as heat which raises the temperature within homes. Switching out even a few of the most commonly used lights with energy-efficient bulbs will have a major impact on saving money on your utility bill.
10. Do your chores at night.
Dishwashers, dryers and other regularly used appliances produce a considerable amount of heat. If used during the day, when you aim to cool your house down, your air conditioner is forced to work harder. Switch to a nighttime chore routine to minimize this expense, which is an added bonus during the colder months as you can use the heat generated by your appliances at night to supplement the raising your thermostat.
11. Use your blinds.
Consider insulated window treatments for controlling the amount of light that enters a room can help keep it cool without incurring a high cost. A lot of electricity is lost through windows and these treatments help block unwanted heat from entering and keep the desired cool air within the home. During the colder months, open your windows to allow the sun’s rays to increase the temperature and close them at sunset to keep your home warm naturally, saving you money.
12. Enjoy the breeze.
Open your windows to allow the natural breeze to cool your home. This works well for beating the heat at night when the temperature starts to dip. You can also use ceiling fans to cool down your rooms while using considerably less electricity than the air conditioner. Remember, fans do not change the temperature of a room, they merely circulate cool air. So unless someone is in the room when a fan is being used, don’t turn them on, and always be sure to turn them off when you leave otherwise you are wasting money.
13. Not using it? Unplug it!
Microwaves, cell phones, laptop chargers, and other small appliances can generate heat and use electricity when not in use. This electricity consumption is known as vampire energy and costs Americans roughly $19 billion each year and individual households several hundred dollars each year. As you plug in your devices to be operated or charged, use a power strip to connect all of them to the same source of energy. When you are done using it, turn the power strip off to cut the power of all the electronics. This simple act will allow you to see a five to ten percent drop in monthly energy costs.
14. Use the dishwasher.
Given the amount of energy used by dishwashers, it may seem that the best choice is to rely on hand washing. However, washing dishes by hand likely costs you more money as many people leave water running, consuming energy to heat it while wasting water. Though dishwashers require a lot of water to operate, they can use it more efficiently to clean. Additionally, the temperatures that dishwashers can reach are much greater than can be achieved by hand washing, thus more effectively sanitizing your dishes. Note that the electricity consumption dishwashers engage in requires its use to be maximized, so refrain from running it until it is full.
15. Install for low flow shower heads and faucets.
Install low flow shower heads and faucet aerators to minimize wasted water, the energy required of your water heater, to make an impact on how you save on energy costs and your water bill. Low flow shower heads are a low-cost option that work by restricting the flow of water, preventing unnecessary waste and reducing the amount of cold water that needs to be warmed. Though this may cause some to believe the capability of their shower head is impaired, the low flow head leaves water pressure unaffected, offering the same experience users are accustomed to without the unnecessary water use. Sink aerators have the same capability.
BEYOND THE TIPS: MAKING BIG CHANGES
Consider the energy source.
While you now know how to save on the electric bill by making changes to your energy usage across the board, Finding the primary source of your expenses each month will prove especially valuable. Consider the things you do most frequently and the processes and devices that consume the most amount of electricity regularly. Appliances can be a contributor as they require a lot of electricity while in use. Bad habits can also play a role in your electricity consumption so be sure to hit the lights off in empty rooms, don’t leave the shower or sink faucet running, and don’t fall asleep in front of the TV.
Know your options.
Especially in places like Texas, energy costs can vary widely from company to company. Do your research and learn the average monthly cost of utilities before you decide on a provider. There are many resources that list various rates and plans offered by companies in your area and you can always reach out to service providers. Knowing your current plan and the amount of money you pay can help you better understand the kind of plan you’re looking for in addition to the offerings that would help keep your expenses low.
Ask about available plans.
Time of use plans, fixed rate plans, and prepaid electricity are options that companies may offer to help reduce your energy costs. Ask questions in order to make an educated decision. Taking your time and getting a good understanding for what is out there will ensure you the best possible plan for your utility use and bill. While there are many tips on saving money on your monthly utility expenses, these will certainly get you well on your way!