15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill


My family is looking to move into a new house in the near future. With all the added rooms and exciting DIY projects on the horizon, I realize we'll also need to more carefully watch our utilities costs. More space equals more places to heat, plug in lamps, and otherwise use electricity. (See also: 4 Ways to Win the War With Your Electric Bill This Summer)

Whether you live in a small studio apartment or a sprawling McMansion, there are some smart, easy ways you can cut down on your electric bill. And many of these tips are things you can implement today to garner savings immediately. As always, if you have more tips to share, please leave them in the comments!

1. Open and Close

For some of us, switching on lights is more habit than necessity. So, in the daylight, avoid using lamps and other illuminating devices. Instead, open blinds to let the sun flood in. On the other hand, you can keep a home considerably cooler on hot days by closing curtains. I know this from personal experience! Before hitting high on your AC unit, you might want to try this trick.

2. Set the Bar

Have you looked at your water heater lately? Chances are your temperature might be set above the energy efficient suggestion of 120 degrees (or often marked "warm" or as a triangle on your heater's settings). If you need scalding hot water for tea or cooking, heat it on the stove.

3. Maintain It

Something as silly as a dirty furnace filter can cost you money when it comes to heating costs. The same goes with any other machine or component you must maintain. Plus, keeping your operations up-to-date is safer than neglecting them, and it may extend the life of the appliance — meaning even bigger savings. (See also: Make Your Fridge Last Forever)

4. Unplug Yourself

This tip is twofold: Unplug your electronics when they're not in use — including battery chargers and power adapters — they still suck power from outlets and power strips even when off. Better yet, truly unplug by heading outdoors to read a book or to exercise. Totally free!

5. Negotiate

Take stock of your bills from the past year and see if you can strike a deal with your provider(s). You may also explore spreading out your costs so they are the same each month versus fluctuating seasonally to help make your budget more predictable. Don't be shy to shop around if there's more than one electric provider in your area.

6. Shift Your Day

While you're at it, ask your provider if there are "off peak" or "time-of-use" rates or times of the day when electricity costs less. You can choose to do your laundry, blow-dry your hair, cook a great meal, wash your dishes, or do any other task at the cheaper rate.

7. Slow the Flow

I think we all remember the "Seinfeld" episode with the superintendent switches out the showerheads to low flow. If you're really into pinching pennies, swapping yours out can mean less water to heat over the course of your shower. Limiting yourself to a shorter shower, too, is another drop in the bucket.

8. Upgrade Your Thermostat

When we had to upgrade to a new furnace (ouch!), our contractor also updated us to a programmable thermostat. By setting designated temperatures for night and day, we have definitely saved money. Plus, now I don't have to remember to adjust the temperature every night before bed.

9. Survey Bulbs

By now I think most of us are familiar with compact fluorescent bulbs as a great alternative to conventional incandescents. But did you know there are other energy efficient options like LED? A little extra money up front can mean up to $40 to $135 per bulb over a bulb's lifetime.

10. Put Your Laptop to Sleep

Enable your computer's energy savings features, they could save you upwards of $30 each year on electricity costs per computer. Sounds like an insignificant amount, but it's still your money and a super simple fix.

11. Put a Damper on Things

If your home features a fireplace, be sure to close the flue when its not in use. Otherwise the outdoor air, whether hot or cold, will infiltrate your home and suck energy (to adjust your home's temperature) along with it.

12. Fan Yourself

No matter the time of year, ceiling fans can be useful for inexpensive temperature control. In the summer, run them on low to keep air flow up and air-conditioning costs down. In the winter, use the switch to reverse the blades to draw warm air down into a room from the ceiling.

13. Cook Smart (I)

Use the correct sized burners when heating up a tea kettle or dinner on the stove. For example, using a "six-inch pan on an eight-inch electric burner can waste more than 40% of the heat produced."

14. Cook Smart (II)

While you're at it, resist the urge to check on baked goods by opening the door, which can drop the temperature by up to 25 degrees. If you need to use your appliance's self-cleaning option, try planning it after cooking a meal to use less energy heating to the highest temperatures.

15. Switch It Off

And one of the simplest ways to save money on your electric bill is to always remember to turn off lights or other electronic devices when you're leaving a room. It sounds ridiculously easy, but it can take some getting used to for the whole family. You may wish to place a reminder note at each switch as a first step in the right direction.

How do you conserve energy and keep your electric bill in check? Please share in comments!

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