My power bills are too flipping high, and I’m willing to bet yours are too. Fortunately, it’s possible to lower them significantly without making significant changes to lifestyle or spending even more money on fancy power-saving gadgets.
We all use electricity, and it’s expensive. As irritating as it is to pay a big power bill, it’s about more than that. We’re all more aware than ever about efficiency and reducing our carbon footprints. Fortunately, when it comes to saving money on your electricity bill, it’s as simple as changing some old habits.
Last year my family bought our first home. Prior to this, we were renting in a place that included utilities so paying a power bill was a completely new experience for us, and it sucks. Our new place is much larger than we’re used to and the bigger the home, the more energy-hungry it is.
Below are 20 changes that I’ve implemented in our household that have lowered our power bills significantly.
1. Turn off the dry setting on your dishwasher
Your dishwasher uses an energy-sucking heater to dry your dishes. Just turn the heat mode off and crack the door when the cycle is done. It doesn’t take much longer for your dishes to dry.
2. Shorten your showers by 1 or 2 minutes.
I like to have long showers, but I pay for the privilege. My water heater runs overtime producing that hot water. Shaving a minute off of a 6 minute shower isn’t hard at all. You can use a cell-phone as a timer for this.
3. Wash small quantities of dishes by hand.
This one is tough for me. I own a dishwasher because I don’t want to do dishes, but running it half-full is like throwing money in the garbage.
4. Hang your laundry.
I love drying my clothes. It’s easy and fast but where I live it’s warm enough 5 or 6 months per year to hang laundry outside. In the winter, clothes can be hung over a baseboard heater or heating duct that’s in use anyways.
5. Turn off your power bars.
I have a power bar behind my television and another behind my computer. There’s no reason to have any of that stuff drawing power when it’s not in use. Just hit the switch on the power bar when you’re done to save energy.
6. Double check before bed.
Do a quick loop through your house right before bed each night and make sure all lights and electronics are off. It costs nothing and can save you a lot.
Everybody knows to turn lights off but seriously…turn your lights off. I tend to leave them on in the middle of the day when I leave and don’t notice they’re on because of the ambient light.
8. Clear out your refrigerator.
Your refrigerator is a power hog, but you can maximize it’s efficiency by making sure that the vents on the inside top and bottom are clear of stuff so air can flow. Also, the coils on the back (or bottom) need to be kept clear for maximum efficiency.
9. Don’t waste cooking heat.
When you’re done cooking in the winter, leave your oven door open so the ambient heat can heat your house instead of just being wasted. Naturally, make sure that little ones can’t access the open oven.
10. Turn off that fan.
A fan only makes you feel cooler when you’re directly in front of it. It doesn’t cool your house down unless perhaps it’s directly in front of a window. When you leave the room, shut off the fan.
11. Ceiling fan.
Heat rises. In places with high ceilings the heat can get trapped up high in the room. Rather than cranking the heat up, use the ceiling fan to blow it downward.
12. Unplug battery chargers.
They draw power even when they’re not charging. When my laptop power adapter is plugged in it gets really hot even when my computer isn’t plugged in. That’s electricity being converted into heat.
13. Unscrew multiple bulbs.
Some light fixtures have several bulbs in them for redundancy and to direct light. I’ve toyed with unscrewing one or two bulbs in these fixtures. Instantly that fixture uses 50-66% less energy.
14. Clean your lint trap.
You should do this every time you run a load through your dryer. Not only does your dryer use more power, but it’s a fire hazard to have a plugged lint trap.
15. Check your dryer before the cycle ends.
I’ve always dried clothes on the timed cycle. This can be incredibly wasteful. If you select 50 minutes and your clothes are dry after 25 minutes, you’re using 2x more power than needed. This can be avoided by checking your load.
16. Shut off everything for holidays.
When you leave your home for more than a day, completely shut down your home. You can unplug things individually, turn off power bars or switch your breakers off. If switching the breakers off, remember to leave the refrigerator and deep freeze on. Also, unless you’re going away for several days, it can cost more to reheat the water tank than just to leave it on.
17. Track your usage.
Many power companies allow you to check on your daily usage online. It allows me to identify high usage times so that I can try to better manage my usage.
18. Raise your fridge and freezer temperatures.
Set your fridge and freezer to the highest temperature that will keep your food safe. Many people have their fridges so cold that food will freeze in the bottom. There’s no need and it uses more power.
19. Eat bread, not toast.
Those coils inside your toaster are an energy suck. Bread tastes good too.
20. Wash laundry in cold water.
Most things get cleaned adequately in cold water. Unless you’re cleaning something specific, use cold water. Most people needlessly waste hundreds of liters of hot water per year.