5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill

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Shower tub (Photo:@WR36 via Twenty20)
An electricity bill can be a hard thing to decipher, especially if you’re seeing big fluctuations month to month. If your electric bills are making you scratch your head, there are some simple changes you can make to curb the energy-gobbling habits. Not only will working on being more energy-efficient improve your utility bills, it also reduces your household’s carbon footprint. So, without further ado, here are five ways to cut your electricity costs.

1. Turn lights off when you exit a room

Your dad had a point when he pestered you about leaving lights on in empty rooms. If you’re trying to cut electricity costs (and improve the lifetime of your lightbulbs), remember, empty rooms = no lights. It’s also advisable to not use an overhead light while using other sources of light (like a reading lamp, for example). However, never sacrifice visibility for energy savings — we’re not suggesting you walk around with a candlestick like a Victorian heroine (in fact, we’re telling you not to!).
On the topic of lighting, a little-known fact about lightbulbs is the type you use has the power to impact your air conditioning. Some bulbs generate a lot of heat, which can heat up your home and make your air conditioning work harder, which means higher energy costs. For extra energy-reducing credit, consider swapping out your bulbs for more energy-efficient LED bulbs.

2. Install a programmable thermostat

Constantly adjusting the thermostat to the most suitable temperature can be a pain to remember. If you make a habit of leaving the air conditioner or heat blasting while you’re at work, it can easily impact your home’s energy efficiency. A programmable thermostat not only takes the remembering out of the equation, it also takes the guesswork out of finding the most efficient/ comfortable temperature for your home. That means programmable thermostat is a great way to save and stay comfortable.
However, if you opt out of using a programmable thermostat, that doesn’t mean you’re destined for an outrageous electricity bill. Instead, try adjusting your thermostat seven to ten degrees warmer in the summer and seven to ten degrees cooler in the winter. Living a little north or south out of a “just right” temperature could save you up to 10% on your electric bill.

3. Replace your air filter regularly

Air filters are often out of sight and out of mind. But, if you’re interested in saving on electricity costs (and being mindful of your air quality), remember to regularly replace your air filters. An air filter that needs replacing puts unnecessary strain on your heating and cooling system. Making sure your filter is fresh can save you up to 7.5% of your total energy consumption. That means you could save up to $7.50 for every $100 you spend on energy usage.
Generally, air filters should be replaced every three months (write that in your calendar). Clean filters also keep your HVAC system in better shape, which could save you from costly repairs down the road.

4. Identify and repair leaks around doors and windows

If you get an expected whopper of an electricity bill, leaks, drafty windows, or other openings in your home’s exterior could very well be the cause. Your home should be sealed to the outdoors, not only to keep hot and cool air from getting in, but also to keep them from getting out.
To identify air leaks, check if you can see daylight shining through the cracks between doors and their frames. Also, try running your hand along the edges of your windows. Feeling a draft is an indication of a leak.
If you’re unsure whether or not you feel a draft, try the match test. Blow out a match in front of your window or door, if the smoke spirals toward the gap between the door or window and its frame, that’s an indication you have a leak. Leaks can be fixed by installing weatherstripping or investing in new windows or doors.
Openings to the outside may not be as obvious as checking your windows and doors. It’s also a good idea to regularly check your attic and basement to make sure there aren’t any holes or damage that could be impacting your energy bill.

5. Reduce your hot water use

Your water heater is responsible for a big chunk of your household’s energy usage. If you’re looking to reduce your energy bill, try scaling back your hot showers to warm showers. Also, try taking fewer showers (your hair and skin will thank you!). Likewise, don’t use hot water to wash dishes or brush your teeth.
No judgment if you want to keep your shower water hot. But, your clothes won’t mind a chilly dip. Make sure that you always have your washing machine set to cold. Using hot water to wash your clothes makes your hot water heater work overtime (and hot water is also more likely to shrink your clothes).