19 Secrets to a Lower Energy Bill
Running your own home isn’t cheap. Dishes need to be cleaned, laundry washed and dried, bedrooms heated and cooled, and dinner made. These hundreds of little things each day add up to an expensive energy bill. But taking just a few of the following steps can reduce your energy bill by up to 50%.
Energy generally goes into three different areas in your house: heating water, heating or cooling air, and powering appliances. There are myriad ways to decrease the energy going into each of these areas.
According to Energy Star, 13% of the average annual energy bill goes towards heating water. Out of a yearly energy bill of $1,320, this comes out as about $170. Adopting each of these three simple tips would save you up to $150 annually.
1. Decrease the temperature your water heater heats the water to. Usually it heats to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but you could decrease it to 130 or even 120, depending on how hot you like your showers. This would reduce your annual water bill by 6-10% per 10 degrees you lower it.
2. Insulate the water heater itself and the first six feet of pipe coming out of it. This would reduce your annual water bill by 7-16%.
3. Wash your clothes with cold water. If your household runs three loads of laundry a week, mostly in warm water, doing all your laundry in cold water instead could save you more than $90 annually.
Approximately 42% of the average energy bill goes towards heating and cooling your home to a comfortable temperature. Applying each of the following techniques could save you upwards of $400.
4. Increase the temperatures to which the refrigerator and freezer cool the food to 40 and 5 degrees, respectively. This will still be cold enough to keep your food fresh while also using less energy.
5. Turn the thermostat 10 or 15 degrees closer to the outside temperature each time you leave the house. Most thermostats can be set to do this automatically at a certain time each day. Over a year, this simple act could save you 10% on your energy bill.
6. Learn to live a little colder in the winter and a little warmer in the summer. Even turning the thermostat from 70 to 72 in the summer can have a huge difference, and 70 to 68 in the winter can do the same. If 68 is too cold—as it is for me—I would suggest wearing more fuzzy socks and sweaters. (Interestingly enough, having an open fireplace—even when lit—increases the energy bill because the filtering system can take hot air from your living room and push it out through the chimney.)
7. Air-drying clothes instead of using the dryer can also benefit your wallet. I’m personally not a huge fan of this one—it makes my clothes uncomfortably stiff—but it’s almost worth it to save $100 annually. Additionally, using the dryer during the day in the winter can help heat the house.
8. Add extra insulation to your home in order to help it retain its heat or cold better. In this same vein, make sure that any gaps between door and wall or window and wall are completely filled.
9. Check that all filters on dryer, refrigerator, and throughout the house are clean.
10. Install ceiling fans. Switch the direction the fans rotate in winter and summer so that they circulate the correct temperature of air.
11. Plant trees. The shade trees provide helps insulate your home.
Typically 45% of your total energy bill goes into powering washers, dryers, refrigerators, lights, electronics, and other household appliances. Introducing these things into your lifestyle might save you $100 annually.
12. Use power strips for appliances and switch off the appliances when not in use. Leaving cords plugged in, even when the appliance is not in use, turns the appliances into vampires that suck extra, useless energy.
13. Switch fluorescent lights to LEDs, which require less energy. Turn the lights off when you leave the room—or even invest in motion-activated lights.
14. Cook with the microwave instead of the stove/oven.
15. Don’t preheat the oven, when possible.
16. Switching from a paid-per-watt to a prepaid energy bill could help you to be more conscientious of your energy; if you use up your allocated energy, it simply clicks off.
17. Purchase more efficient appliances. Companies such as Energy Star claim to save you $575 annually with their energy-efficient lines of appliances.
18. There are apps or audits that can help you know what you can do personally to decrease your energy bill.
19. Install solar! Over 20 years, solar will save you $60,000.
If you somehow find the will within yourself to incorporate each of the steps above, your savings will be immense. Bear in mind that my calculations are based on a set of assumptions that your home might not fulfill; your savings might be different than those projected. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if these steps saved you 50% on your energy bill.
I wish you luck in your quest towards cleaner energy.