After a summer of high-priced air conditioning and electric costs, Americans are bracing for the next round of expensive electric bills. Rising utility bills, according to NPR, are being driven by the surge in the price of natural gas, which generates 38% of the electricity in the United States.
Take Advantage of Off-Peak Hours
Peak electric hours will vary depending on your energy provider. You can find out what peak and non-peak hours are by contacting your provider and shifting power use, like cooking or doing laundry, to times of day when energy is cheaper.
Use LED Lights
According to the DOE’s Energy Saver program, lighting accounts for 15% of the typical household’s energy costs.
LED lighting uses 90% less energy than a conventional standard halogen light bulb. Every light bulb you switch to an LED bulb allows you to shave $3 to $4 off the total cost of your annual energy bill.
You also might consider trying to get by with fewer light bulbs. For instance, if you have a lamp that uses four light bulbs, consider installing only two or three and keeping just one turned on.
In addition to using LED light bulbs when possible, remember to keep the lights turned off in rooms you are not in.
Eliminate Your Dishwasher
Rather than do a load of dishes in your dishwasher, consider washing and drying them by hand. This is especially helpful in reducing electric bill costs if you don’t have very many dishes to wash and dry.
Get Smart About Doing Laundry
There are several ways you can keep your laundry cycles from adding up on your electric bills. A few helpful tips include the following:
- Washing clothes in cold water. Put your clothes on the cold setting, instead of hot, to decrease the washer’s energy consumption.
- Do only full loads of laundry. You should not be washing just a few socks or a shirt at a time. Wait until you have enough laundry for a full load. Commit to washing only full loads; this will help cut down on the time you need to spend doing laundry.
- Line-dry when possible. Dryers consume a great amount of energy per spin cycle. If possible, line-dry your clothing, towels and blankets instead of relying on the dryer. If this is not feasible, dry clothes in the dryer for half the cycle — e.g., letting them dry for 20 to 30 minutes instead of a full hour.
- Clean out the dryer lint vent. Keeping lint built up makes your dryer less efficient over time. Clean it out on a regular basis.
Turn Off Your Work Computer
If you work from home, turn your computer completely off when it’s not in use. You also can put the computer to sleep, but this generally means the computer will still be on and using low power. The best approach may be to simply turn off your computer and all of its necessary equipment, including your monitor and mouse.
Similarly, personal laptop computers tend to come with a brick, a large box that uses energy continuously when it’s plugged in. Try to unplug the cord from the wall every time you’re not using your laptop to keep from draining energy.
Take Shorter Showers
If you’re looking for ways to reduce the amount of hot water you use in the shower, it may be beneficial to take what is referred to as a “military shower.”
In a military shower, you turn the shower on to get wet. Then, turn it off and lather up. Turn the shower back on to rinse and then off once you’re done. This approach may not give you much room for “lather, rinse, repeat,” but it does ensure you spend less time in the shower and heat up much less water.
Don’t Put Hot Food in the Refrigerator
If you have hot leftovers you’d like to store for later, let them cool off before putting them in the refrigerator. Putting warm food in the fridge actually raises the temperature and makes the refrigerator work harder. Make sure to cover the food and drinks stored in the refrigerator, too, so they will taste better.
Don’t Open the Fridge and Freezer Repeatedly
Try to curb the habit of opening the fridge and freezer repeatedly or drinking while standing in front of the open fridge. Cold air escapes every time you do this, and it’s a serious waste of electricity.
Wear Socks Indoors
If you get cold easily, one of the simplest ways to fix this without turning on the heat is by wearing layers. This includes wearing socks indoors.
Invest In a Smart Thermostat
This is hardly a secret: If you need help figuring out when to adjust your AC or heater, you may want to purchase a smart or programmable thermostat. This automatically helps adjust the temperature, whether you’re home or away.
Turn Off the Oven Before the Food Is Done Cooking
If you set your timer to 15 minutes to cook dinner in the oven, turn off the oven a few minutes before the meal is done. The heat built up inside the oven will continue to cook the food. Plus, this ensures your dinner doesn’t come out overcooked.
Review Your Electric Bill
While all of the tips above may be helpful in shaving some money off your electric bill, the most important “secret” is to review your statement. You can track and compare energy usage over time to better determine which areas you may need to cut back on, such as keeping the AC or heat on, and start making adjustments accordingly.
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