For many renters and homeowners, dreading the utility bill has become a scheduled part of the month, namely the electric. This particular bill can cost a pretty penny. Thankfully, there are more than a few useful tips and tricks to help not only a personal budget but also the environment.
From keeping the refrigerator and freezer full to installing a "smart thermostat," energy efficiency and conservation are key to keeping the utility bill low and spirits high. With energy prices going up 2.5% each year since 2016, these hacks can help you dramatically reduce that electric bill.
Programmable Thermostat's Save Time And Energy
On average, a three-ton air conditioner will function at 3,500 watts per hour. According to the EPA, if the AC is running nine hours a day during some of the year's hottest months, the annual bill would amount to around $460. The thing is, there is a way to decrease that number.
Installing a programmable thermostat and controlling the hours the AC or heat is actually on can help to cut costs in a huge way. There will no longer be a need to have the AC blasting when the house is empty, or everyone is sleeping.
Phantom Energy Is The Enemy
It might not seem like it, but leaving appliances plugged in actually adds up. Alan Meier, a senior scientist at the Department of Energy's Berkeley Lab, estimates that roughly 50 objects are plugged in at all times in a typical American household. According to his study, that number accounts for about a quarter of all residential energy.
Those numbers are quite high, making the best course of action stopping the "phantom energy" from increasing the utility bill. To do this, try using power strips and unplugging appliances, such as a microwave or computer, when it's not in use.
Only Place Cooled-Down Food In The Refrigerator
Placing leftovers in the refrigerator is a nightly occurrence for many American families. What many people don't realize is that by placing warm food in the refrigerator, the appliance utilizes more energy to keep the overall inside temperature down. In order to keep prices down and the fridge happy, think about this tip.
Instead of placing hot or even warm food in the refrigerator, wait until it is completely cooled off. Then, wrap it up properly and place it inside! It's a simple trick that will save you a bit of money in the end!
Dimmer Switches Create A Nice Balance
For many homes, light fixtures are a necessary commodity. Unfortunately, that fundamental object used in everyday life uses a boatload of energy, increasing the utility bill astronomically since providers charge for the amount of energy being used and not the amount of light being expelled.
That being the case, switching from regular light switches to dimmer switches is a game-changer for many. Making the change to a dimmer switch allows for control over the brightness of a light. And the dimmer the lighting in the room, the less energy is being used, and the lower the monthly bill.
The Hot Water Temperature Matters
Next time a hot shower sounds like a good idea, just remember that according to the EPA, about 17% of the average home's utility bill comes from the energy it takes to sufficiently heat up water. Thankfully, there is a way to cut the energy consumption so the monthly utility bill doesn't look so horrible.
By doing something as simple as decreasing the maximum temperature on the water heater helps eliminate unnecessary energy consumption. It's recommended to set the thermostat temperature under 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make Sure The Lint Tray Is Empty
Throwing clothing from the washer to the dryer is muscle memory to most. And trivial things, like checking to see if the lint tray is empty, shoot to the back of their minds. Well, that trivial thing is actually sucking up a lot of the dryer's energy, making it so the appliance doesn't function to the best of its ability.
Regularly cleaning out the lint trap, and even scrubbing it down with soap and water each month, will help keep the dryer from overworking and using more energy than necessary. The monthly utility bill will thank you for this little trick.
Insulate Electrical Outlets To Maximize Heating And Cooling
It's something that doesn't cross most people's minds. Still, electrical outlets and switches can let outside air in, diminishing any efforts otherwise put on heating and cooling the rest of the house, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Although a little thing, in the long run, wasted heat and AC can cause the monthly electric bill to rise. Instead of seeing the bill soar a few dollars higher, think about insulating the outlets and switches around your house. Just install electrical outlet sealers behind each outlet and switch to cut electrical costs.
A Full Refrigerator And Freezer Is A Happy Monthly Bill
"Close the refrigerator door! You're letting all the cold air out," has most likely been said in more than one household. It's not bad advice, since an open fridge door counts for 7% of its energy use. And while keeping the door closed while not in use definitely helps the monthly bill, it's not the only thing that'll help the appliance use less energy.
By keeping both the fridge and freezer fully stocked, the appliance will use less of its powerful energy. This is because the food and other stores act as pseudo-insulation, cooling things down without a lot of help from the fridge.
Outdoor Solar Lighting Shaves A Lot Of Money Off The Bill
Around the garden, lighting the walkway, or even a stick-on light to help when bringing the dog outside for a night walk, whatever the case may be, outdoor lighting is key for a lot of households. Unfortunately, using regular old lights tends to increase the utility bill, especially if left on.
But what if outdoor lighting didn't even need to be a thought? By installing solar panel lighting outside, part of that monthly bill will all but disappear since solar doesn't use any energy coming from electricity. Honestly, it doesn't get much better than free!
Keeping Refrigerator Coils Clean Is Key
When electronics, appliances, or anything with a motor is dirty, it uses way more energy than it typically would run properly. A refrigerator is no different. If its coils are full of dirt and grim, then the appliance is going to work overtime to make sure everything inside its doors remains cool.
Well, that's great for the food and drinks, but not so much for the utility bill. By checking the refrigerator coils every three months or so, a routine cleaning wouldn't just help utility costs, but it will also prolong the life of the fridge!
Keep The Sun At Bay
Direct sunlight has a nasty way of heating a house at the worst times, like in the middle of the summer. Unfortunately, that has many people running to the thermostat to jack up the air conditioner and cool off the household. But this action doesn't do the utility bill any favors.
Instead, think about closing the curtains to block out any unwanted sunlight. This tiny act will help reduce air conditioner energy consumption, leaving your house a bit cooler and your head a bit more level when looking at the monthly bill. Pro tip: use tinted window film if you enjoy having the curtains open!
Bypass The Dryer And Line-Dry Laundry
When doing laundry, it's typically "faster is better." Unfortunately, faster doesn't equate to cheaper, as dryers use 1,800 to 5,000 watts per load, averaging around $32.85 per year. And while that might not sound like a lot, it is when added to the rest of the electric bill.
Thankfully, there is an easy way to cut out the cost of an otherwise money-sucking dryer -- don't use one! Instead, think about line-drying your clothing. Not only is it technically better for your clothes to not go through a hot tumble cycle, but your wallet will definitely be thanking you for the savings.
Use Ceiling Fans To Their Fullest Extent
For many households, the number one source of energy use comes from the air conditioner. Obviously, AC is one of the best inventions for summer heatwaves, but it's also one of the worst, as it greatly increases monthly utility rates.
To deter the utility bill from completely emptying a savings account, think about utilizing ceiling fans to their fullest extent. This means turning the air conditioning off, opening the windows, and turning on each ceiling fan to help circulate airflow throughout the house or apartment. It might not be as cool, but the monthly bill will look a bit nicer.
Microwaves are Handy In More Than One Way
Microwaves are quite useful. But what many people don't realize is that this particular appliance is useful in more ways than one. It can actually be used to cut down costs on the monthly utility bill, simply by utilizing the microwave instead of the oven.
On average, an oven uses around 2,400 watts, where a microwave only uses 1,200 watts. By cooking something in the microwave for around a half-hour, at ten cents per kWh/day, the monthly price will be around $1.83. The price of the oven is about double. So, do your wallet a favor, and utilize the microwave a bit more often for meals!
An Attic Ceiling Fan To Cool Off Those Hot Summer Evenings
During the summer months, it might have come to your attention that the top levels of your home become increasingly warmer. That's because hot air rises. But there is no need for the utility bill to do the same. Instead of going to the thermostat and switching on the air conditioner to cool the house down, think about this little tip.
Instead of going straight to the AC, think about installing an attic fan if you don't already have one. These fans work wonders, reducing hot airflow through the house while decreasing the utility bill at the same time.
Low-Flow Showers For Lower Costing Bills
Showers, they're relaxing, rejuvenating, and tend to take a lot of energy to heat properly, resulting in a pricey monthly bill. And while a nice warm shower is preferable to a cold one, paying an arm and a leg for hot water doesn't sound like a good time.
Thankfully, there is a handy solution that will help cut your electric bill. Instead of using a shower head that flows at five to eight gallons/minute, think about purchasing a low-flow showerhead. These flow at a lesser rate of 2.5 or even 1.6 gallons/minute. Less water means less energy to heat the water and a lower bill!
Replace And Clean HVAC Filters
Like refrigerator coils, leaving an HVAC system to the elements is a recipe for a pricey utility bill. While the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit is meant to make indoor air temperatures comfortable, few things are more comfortable than knowing a bill won't be sky-high.
Think about instilling these useful tips in your maintenance routine instead: replace the HVAC panel filters at least once every 30 days, pleated filters every three to four months, the media filter every six months, and clean the permanent filter at least once a month.
LED Lighting Is Way Cheaper In The Long Run
Light bulbs are such a tiny thing but depending on the type; they can pack quite a punch on the utility bill. That's why it's smart to grab LED lights when running to the hardware store, as they are way cheaper than incandescent bulbs in the long run.
For comparison, over a span of 23 years, incandescent lights will run an average household's utility bill around $200, including cost per bulb, watts used, and total electric cost. Using the same metrics with an LED bulb, the price is substantially lower, at a whopping $38 for total operational cost.
LED Nightlights For Bedrooms, The Livingroom, And Bathrooms
For many families, nightlights are a staple of the household, whether it be for a young child in their bedroom or so mom doesn't run into the wall on her way to the bathroom at night. While they might be useful in more than one way, keeping lights on overnight is a fast way to lose money.
The thing is, nightlights are necessary for some homes. If that's the case, think about swapping the nightlight lightbulbs out for LED lights. Not only do they last a very long time, but LED bulbs only cost 25 cents/year!
A Tankless Hot Water Heater Is Great For Savings
It's no secret that hot water heaters use up a lot of energy, resulting in a hefty end of the month electric bill. Between laundry, the dishwasher, and showers, hot water is used quite often, so taking it completely out of the equation is out of the question. Thankfully, there is another way to save money without taking a cold shower.
If your water heater is on the latter end of its life, think about investing in a tankless water heater. According to ENERGY STAR, using a tankless water heater can save up to $100 per year.
Washing And Drying Dishes By Hand Is A Money Saver
While a dishwasher makes doing the nightly dishes a breeze, it also has a bad habit of sucking up more money than people want to spend. As long as the faucet is left running while doing the dishes, washing and drying them by hand can be a huge money saver in the long run.
Instead of automatically filling the dishwasher after dinner, think about grabbing two washing bowls to fill with water. Use one as a cleaning station with soap and the other as a rinsing station. This method might take a tad longer, but wallets will be thanking the process.
Proper Wall Insulation Is A Game Changer
If you find yourself turning on the heat or the air conditioner on full blast at times, it probably has something to do with your house and not necessarily your body temperature. Not only is proper insulation key to a comfortable living environment, but it will also help cut costs, according to the Department of Energy.
According to The North American Hardware and Paint Association, around 50% to 70% of energy consumption is from heating and cooling; it might be wise to think about investing in some proper insulation! It's surprising how cost-effective it is.
Full Loads Of Laundry Are The Name Of The Game
According to igsenergy, on average, a family will use a washer and dryer six hours each per week. This can account for around $115 per year, and that's just from the electricity used to run the two machines! Cutting that bill down is key, and, thankfully, there are a few ways to do so.
One way is to make sure each load of laundry going into the washer is a full one. This will help decrease the number of loads that need to be done throughout the week, helping decrease energy consumption.
Dryer Balls Save Drying Time And Energy
Between a washer and dryer, a dryer uses more electricity. And if there is one thing people don't want to be added to their monthly bill, it's something that, if used in a specific way, doesn't have to be so expensive. So, if hang drying is out the question, try using dryer balls.
Dryer Balls help circulate the air in dryers cutting down on drying time by a solid 25%. Before running that next drying load, think about ordering some of these drying balls off Amazon; the monthly utility bill will look better for it.
Make Ice the Old Fashion Way -- Bags And Trays
Whether it's adding some cool cubes to a beverage, icing a sore muscle, or making a smoothie, ice is used in more than one way. And it makes life very easy when that ice is made in a nice little container in the freezer, continually making it, so people don't have to worry about picking up a bag at the store.
Well, considering that nifty ice maker uses a boatload of energy, ice bags, and even trays aren't the worst options. When turning an ice maker off, the energy the refrigerator uses can decrease as much as 20%.
Insulate The Hot Water Heater For Money Savings
According to The U.S. Energy Information Administration, nine percent of electricity use is from heating water. That's a solid percentage that translates over to a cash value at the end of the month. It might be useful to think about incorporating this trick next time hot water heater maintenance comes around.
Instead of settling for that nine percent, think about insulating the hot water heater. By insulating the heater, not only will its efficiency be up, but the overall electricity cost will go down, around $30/year.
Motion Sensor Lighting Is A Game Changer
It might not seem like it, but turning lights on and off throughout the day uses a lot of energy, increasing the monthly utility bill in the process. The good news is there is a way to shave a few extra dollars off that bill.
Motion sensor detection lights are a great way to decrease energy consumption. Able to be installed inside or outside, these types of light fixtures will turn on and off depending on movement in any given room. This way, the lights are off in case someone forgets to flip the switch. Pro tip: add an LED bulb to the motion sensor light for extra savings!
Lids On Pots And Pans Cuts Down On Stove-Top Energy
If there is one thing that is used a lot for dinner, it's the oven and stovetop. The unfortunate thing about this particular appliance is that it uses quite a bit of energy, amounting to a hefty monthly utility bill in some cases.
The good news is there is a way to help cut that bill. By simply using pot and pan lids, food will cook at a quicker rate, allowing for people to turn off their stove in a timely manner, by doing so, cutting off energy consumption at a quicker rate.
That Second Fridge Belongs In The Basement
A common mistake among homeowners is sticking their second refrigerator in the garage. While the garage might make sense, it's not the most cost-efficient location, with the ever-changing temperatures and poor insulation of a garage making the appliance work overtime to keep the food cold.
That's why it's a better idea to place a second refrigerator in the basement. The underground room typically stays at a cooler temperature while remaining insulated like the rest of the house. Of course, if cutting costs is the idea, getting rid of the second refrigerator is the best course of action!
Energy-Saving Landscaping Does Wonders
While most people tend to think about what they can do inside the house to save money on monthly electric bills, the outside is all but forgotten. The funny thing is that people can do certain landscaping outside of their homes to save extra cash.
Instead of cranking the air conditioner way up to cool down the house, think about planting trees for shade. This way, the interior is naturally cool, and the central air won't have to consume so much energy.
Preheating The Oven Is A Thing Of The Past
Since preheating the oven is pretty much step one of every recipe needing to be stuck in the oven, it's easy to forget that preheating is a waste of energy. Contrary to popular belief, food doesn't benefit any more or less with the preheating of the oven.
So, if you're interested in minimizing the monthly utility bill, think about using this little trick. Instead of preheating the oven, set it to the required temperature, and stick the food right on in! Not only will the food be perfectly fine and cooked through in time, but it'll also save on energy consumption.
It's As Simple As Turning Off The Lights
Has anyone ever yelled "turn the light off" when you leave a room? Well, they're on to something since leaving a light on uses quite a bit of energy consumption, resulting in a high utility bill.
Not only that, but lights also give off heat, making it so any air conditioner that's on will have to work overtime to cool the house down. Pretty much, it comes down to making a conscious effort to turn the lights off each time you leave a room. And, yes, this means LED lights, too.
Make Sure Ducts And Vents Get The Maintenance They Deserve
A house is a lot of work, and some of that work is necessary if cutting down on bills is a priority. That means routine maintenance on things like air ducts and heating vents. The upkeep of these specific aspects of a house is crucial in saving money, as they are very much able to waste solid amounts of it if not looked after properly.
Air leaks, poorly sealed vents, and even leaks near the furnace can account for an increase in a monthly utility bill. So, a helpful tip to ensure you're not wasting money is to routinely check ducts and vents and fix them as needed.
Refrigerator Temperatures Should Be Regulated
While energy-efficient refrigerators are the new normal, that doesn't mean they completely stop consuming energy. In fact, they're still one of the highest consumers in a household, accounting for anywhere between $35-$200/year, depending on the model. Because of that, it's important to regulate the temperature of the appliance.
Contrary to popular belief, the fact that a refrigerator temperature is low doesn't mean the energy consumption is low. In fact, it's still high. To save energy and lower the monthly bill, make sure the refrigerator's temperature is between 37 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything lower and you'll be wasting energy and money.
Iron Clothing All At Once
Ironing clothing comes in very handy when dry-cleaning isn't an option, and wrinkles need to disappear. However, while small, an iron uses 800 to 2,000 watts, amounting to an increased monthly bill, depending on how often you iron your clothing. If you use the iron every day, a few extra dollars might find their way onto the bill.
So, let's make sure that doesn't happen. Instead of ironing every day, think about taking each article of clothing you expect to iron throughout the week and take care of it in one fell swoop. Of course, don't let the iron stay sitting for too long!
Insulating Paint Will Help Cut Heating And Air Costs
When thinking about repainting the interior of your house, considering this little trick. Monthly utility bills tend to have a nice figure next to heating and central air. So, to keep that number down and your spirits up, think about looking at something other than regular paint.
It's been said that insulated paint has a 20% reduction in heat gain in the house compared to regular household paints. This will help keep heating and central air costs down, as the paint will help insulate the house's various rooms.
Cover Food Before Placing It In The Refrigerator
While many people do this, a friendly reminder never hurt anyone. Before placing food and even drinks in the fridge, make sure to cover them. Not only will the food taste better later, but by covering food, the fridge will expel less energy, resulting in a lower utility bill.
When food and drinks are placed in the fridge without a proper cover, the fridge works overtime to produce the cool, moist air that keeps contents cold. What it comes down to is the less moisture in the air, the less energy is being used.
Water Heater Timers Can Save Up To 12% On Electricity Costs
The thing about hot water heaters is that they have a bad habit of heating water even when hot water isn't needed. It's one of the biggest energy consumers for households, something very much reflected on the monthly utility bill. The good news is there is a way to stop the heater from upping the electric bill.
Instead of letting the hot water heater run at all times of the day, think about installing a timer. This way, you're able to set specific hours in which you'd like the heater to work. By doing this, you'll decrease your hot water electricity costs by around 12%.
More Blankets, More Money!
When the winter months hit, heating bills tend to skyrocket. It makes sense, though, considering no one really likes to be shivering in their household. But instead of jacking up the heat, and therefore increasing the monthly bill, try this little trick out for size.
Instead of heading straight to the thermostat to but the heat on, think about going to a Target, Home Goods, or even Walmart instead. There, pick up the coziest blanket and/or robe you can find. It sounds silly, but the easiest way to cut the heating bill is by leaving the thermostat alone and piling on the blankets.
Consume Less Energy By Using Cold Water For Laundry
Loads of laundry are washed multiple times a week, depending on the person and how many people are in a household. And while clean clothes are great, the amount of energy consumed by the washer for the purposes of warm or hot water results in a hefty monthly electric bill.
Instead of using hot or even warm water to wash your clothing, think about using cold water. Not only will cooler water wash your clothes just as well, but it's said to help the electric bill in a huge way since 90% of energy consumption disappears if the water heater isn't being used.