Central Air Conditioning
This is the granddaddy of them all when it comes to beefing up your utility bill. Keeping your home cool in the summer is appealing, but it comes with a luxury price tag.
A central air conditioning system uses 15,000 watts of power per hour. If your electric cost is 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, you’re paying $1.50 an hour to run this system, which can run 24/7 in warm climates. Make sure you are using your system effectively by adjusting the temperature appropriately and closing off areas of the house that aren’t being used.
Heat pumps can be more cost-effective than baseboard heating, but it’s important to make sure you’re using the right pump for your home and your climate. Being able to shut off heat or cooling to rooms that aren’t being used will also help keep your energy costs down.
Note that a heat pump is usually right up there with central air in terms of the impact on your utility bill. A heat pump uses about 15,000 watts of power, translating to a cost of $1.50 an hour.
Your water heater uses 4,000 watts of electricity per hour, so it’s costing you 40 cents an hour. Fortunately, your water heater doesn’t run all day long — it only runs when it’s actually heating water. The less hot water you use, and the lower the temperature of that water is, the less energy your water heater will use.
Adjusting your water heater to the lower temperature setting will save energy. Make sure you are using hot water efficiently by only running the dishwasher when it’s completely full, and only using hot water to wash clothes when it’s absolutely necessary.
At 4,000 watts per hour, your clothes dryer is costing 40 cents an hour to run. To reduce your costs, make sure you’re only drying a full load of clothes. Use the drying sensor if you have one, rather than the timed drying option.
If the weather cooperates, hang sheets outside to dry. You’ll save money and, as a little treat, you’ll also get that fresh, outdoors smell.
Dirty Laundry: 35 Ways to Save Money on Clothes
A water pump uses about 3,000 watts of power per hour, costing you 30 cents an hour to run. To save money when running your water pump, make sure you have the right type of pump for your home and that it’s only running when it needs to be.
Besides being a safety hazard, a space heater is an energy hog. The average one uses 1.500 watts of energy — a cost of 15 cents per hour.
Rather than using a space heater to keep a space warm, address the underlying issue. You might need additional insulation in the room you’re trying to heat, or you might be able to block drafts by sealing around doors and windows. Either way, staying warm in the winter is the perfect spring DIY project.
By consuming 1,200 watts of electricity, your hair dryer is costing you 12 cents per hour. You can reduce your costs by reducing usage or letting your hair air dry first — and then use the dryer just for styling. Using the low setting instead of high will reduce your energy usage as well.
A single burner on your electric range uses 1,000 watts of power each hour, which will cost you 10 cents. Because electric stoves retain heat after they are turned off, you can turn off the burner a few minutes before the end of the cooking time.
If you’re making pasta, for example, turn the burner off five minutes before the pasta is done. The water will continue to remain hot enough to finish cooking the pasta and you’ll save some energy for your actual job.
Your refrigerator uses about 1,000 watts of power per hour, costing 10 cents per hour. While you can’t unplug your refrigerator to reduce energy usage, you can take other steps.
Keep foods covered in the refrigerator, as the moisture released by foods makes the compressor have to work harder. If you’re in the market for a new refrigerator, make sure you get one that’s the right size for your family — a full refrigerator uses less energy than one that’s half-empty.
We need to use energy to charge our cell phones, but leaving that charger plugged in when your phone is fully charged or not plugged in can increase your utility bill. A phone charger that stays plugged in uses .26 watts of energy, even if your phone isn’t charging.
If your phone is connected but fully charged, it’s using 2.24 watts. This might not sound like a lot, but think about how many phone chargers you have in your house.
Computers and Monitors
Your computer and monitor are energy vampires that use power even when they are turned off. At 400 watts per hour, each desktop computer in your house is costing 4 cents an hour to run.
To save energy, plug desktops, monitors and laptops into a power strip that you can turn off when the machines are not in use. Laptops are more energy efficient than desktops, but leaving them plugged in will drain energy even when you’re not using them.
Walk around your house and look at the devices you have that are plugged in. Many have a light on them to tell you that they’re using energy, but some don’t.
You can save money by unplugging these devices when you’re not using them. Look for electric razors, electric toothbrushes, coffee makers and so on. These all seem like innocent household items, but they are actually dumb expenses you should cut from your budget.
A ceiling fan can be a good alternative to air conditioning in areas where it doesn’t get insanely hot. At 35 watts of consumption, leaving your ceiling fan on all day will cost you about 8 cents, but shutting it off when you’re not in the room will cost even less. A reversible fan is the best choice since it can pull warm air up out of the room in summer and push it down into the room in winter.
Incandescent Light Bulb
The average incandescent light bulb uses 60 watts of power, costing you 6 cents for every hour it’s on. By replacing your incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient bulbs, you can use 25 to 80 percent less energy.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) and halogen incandescent bulbs use less energy and last longer, although they are more expensive to buy. Of these three types, LEDs are the most efficient, reducing the cost to light a room by 75-80 percent and lasting 25,000 hours compared with the 1,000-hour life of a traditional incandescent bulb.
The average dishwasher costs 18 cents per hour. Running your dishwasher only when it is full will help you save energy. Some people try to save money by handwashing dishes instead, but it’s hard to estimate whether this is more efficient or not. And, most important for many, using a dishwasher is certainly less time-consuming.
Household appliances are becoming more efficient all the time, so look for the most efficient model when it’s time to replace your refrigerator, dishwasher, laundry pair or other appliance. Replacing an old appliance, even if it’s still working, may make economic sense if the energy savings are there.