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Electricity is essential, but not cheap—especially if you use it inefficiently. In this article, we’ll introduce 18 ways to save money on electricity.
The easiest way to spend less is to reduce the amount of electricity you use, and that’s the focus of most of the suggestions here.
18 Smart Ways to Save Money on Electricity
Some of the methods are free to implement. Turning off lights, shutting doors, and reducing your water temperature cost nothing, yet can result in significant savings.
Some strategies, like buying energy-efficient appliances or a new thermostat cost a lot, and it will take time to see a return on your investment.
With these suggestions, you’ll have to decide if the potential savings are worth the initial outlay.
1. Switch to Clean Energy
Arcadia is an energy platform that matches customers with suppliers of renewable energy. The tool is a great way to ensure that some of the money you spend on energy goes to environmentally sustainable producers.
While switching to renewable energy is the main point of the platform, you may also be able to save money on electricity. This is because the company negotiates its own rates with energy suppliers.
To see if you can save, head over to the Arcadia website, enter your ZIP code, and look at the available options. If one is cheaper than the plan you’re currently on, switch over to get the savings.
2. Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
Swapping to more efficient light bulbs can result in savings, as you’ll use less electricity to produce the same amount of light.
The amount you save can be significant depending on the type of lights you currently use, the type you switch to, the number of bulbs you have in your house, and how long you use them each day.
According to the blog Mr Electric, leaving 10 incandescent light bulbs on for an hour a day when they are not in use adds $24 to your energy bill every year. This goes down to just $6 per year for CFL lights and $5 per year for LED lights.
While LED bulbs are typically more expensive than other options, they can last up to 20 years—far longer than other types of lighting. This makes them an excellent long-term lighting choice to save money on electricity.
3. Use Smart Power Strips
Most houses are full of plugged-in electric devices that use up energy even when not in use.
Intelligent Energy Europe says that appliances left on standby use energy that equates to around 11% of an average EU household’s annual consumption.
The cheapest way to stop this from happening is to unplug all your devices when you finish using them. However, this is often unrealistic due to the sheer number of products we use.
The best alternative is to use a smart power strip.
These are like regular power strips that allow you to plug multiple devices into a single socket. The difference is that they can tell when a device is in standby mode and stop any electricity from being routed to these products.
Consider grabbing one of these for any place in your home with several electrical products plugged in. They work well in entertainment centers or home office setups. The more you install, the more you save.
4. Try Using Dimmer Switches
Dimmer switches let you turn down the amount of light a bulb gives out.
Newer versions of the technology do this by cutting the amount of energy used to power the light. This can result in electricity savings if you use the switch to cut the amount of light your bulbs give off.
Adding dimmers to all rooms in your house will increase your savings potential, although you’ll have to pay an upfront fee to install the switch. Using dimmers is a great way to save money on electricity.
5. Install a Smart Thermostat
Thermostats help you control the temperature in your home.
Installing one can help you save money if you use it to ensure your home isn’t hotter (or colder) than it needs to be. This is because heating and cooling a residence uses a significant amount of energy.
You can increase efficiency by using a smart thermostat like Google Nest.
This has all the benefits of a regular thermostat, while adding features such as the ability to control your home’s temperature from an app on your phone. It also uses your phone’s in-built GPS to turn the heat down when you are out. These features reduce the chance of wasting energy.
Google says those who switch to Nest see an average annual savings of between 10% and 12% on heating and 15% on cooling. This results in an average savings of between $131 and $145 a year.
Of course, the exact amount you save will depend on your energy use habits before and after installing the product. If you already keep things cool and are good at turning your heating off when you aren’t at home, the savings may be lower.
Smart thermostats have other benefits. Namely, your home may be more comfortable to live in, and you won’t have to worry about continually turning the heating on and off.
6. Install Energy-Efficient Appliances
Energy-efficient appliances use significantly less electricity than equivalent, less efficient ones.
According to Energy Star, refrigerators made before 1993 use twice as much energy as new models. Meanwhile, those that are Energy Star certified use less energy than a 60-watt light bulb run continuously.
You can also get savings by choosing more efficient dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, and more. Look for models that are Energy Star Certified in the U.S. or rated A+++ in the EU.
Be aware of how you are using appliances to save money. Consider air-drying clothes on warm days, eliminating heated drying and pre-rinsing from your dishwasher routine, or always washing clothes on cold. This is definitely a good way to save money on electricity.
7. Unplug Devices When Not in Use
You know that leaving devices on standby uses electricity and costs money, but did you know that some devices use a small amount of energy when just plugged in?
According to ScienceABC, chargers are a big culprit, and they waste energy both when the device they charge is plugged in and full, and when it isn’t even attached.
While the amount used isn’t much, it can add up over time if you have many electrical products.
The simplest way to ensure you aren’t wasting energy is to unplug all devices when you stop using them. Make this easier by buying a power bar with multiple sockets and simply unplugging the power bar’s cable when it is no longer in use. Try this to save money on electricity.
8. Take Shorter Showers
Long hot showers are a luxury when the weather turns cold. But cutting the amount of time you spend washing can save serious money.
According to the New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), a 15-minute shower costs around $1 New Zealand (~$67), while a five-minute one costs only 33 cents (~$0.22). This is a significant difference and can lead to huge savings over time.
If you live in a house with multiple people, the difference will be even more pronounced. The EECA estimates that a family of four could save $900 New Zealand (~$603) by cutting down long showers.
9. Air Dry Your Clothes
Tumble dryers are a fast and convenient way to dry your clothes. However, switching to air drying could result in significant savings.
The Spruce says that in the U.S., it costs around 45 cents to dry a load based on a 5,600-watt dryer running for 40 minutes at $0.12 an hour.
The exact amount you save will depend on your machine and how much you pay for energy. At the above prices, if you dry multiple loads every week, you could save around $50 or more a year by switching to air drying.
10. Stop Washing Clothes with Hot Water
Washing machines use energy to heat up water when you wash your clothes. But it often isn’t necessary to use hot water. CS Monitor says that going cold will typically save you $0.64 per load, assuming an energy cost of $0.15 per kWh.
Of course, there are times when you need a little bit of extra cleaning power. In these situations, consider washing your clothes on warm. This will still save money when compared to washing on hot.
Another benefit is that washing clothes on cold will typically result in less damage to each item, potentially extending the amount of time you can wear them.
Combine washing on cold with air-drying your clothes to see significant savings. This can be a great way to save money on electricity.
11. Regulate the Temperature of Your Water Heater
Your home’s water heater uses energy to heat water in your tank. Turning down the temperature water is kept at reduces energy bills, as heating water to a lower temperature requires less energy.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, switching your water heater thermostat from 140ºF to 120ºF can save between 4% and 22% annually due to savings in standby heat and water demand losses.
There are some things to consider.
Dishwashers without a booster heater may require you to set your water temp at between 130ºF and 140ºF. If you have a dishwasher, check this before turning your water down.
The cooler temperature may also increase the risk of legionella bacteria. The Department of Energy says that those with a suppressed immune system or chronic respiratory disease may consider keeping their tank temp at 140ºF.
12. Operate Your Washer & Dryer at Night
Many energy companies charge more for energy use at peak times. This means you may save money by running energy-intensive appliances at times when energy is cheaper. Be sure to check whether your plan offers dual rates before making this choice.
These appliances can also be quite loud, so be careful if you live in an apartment block.
13. Inspect Seals on Doors and Windows Regularly
If doors and windows aren’t sealed properly, air from outside will enter your home and affect the indoor temperature.
During times when it is too hot or too cold, you will therefore spend more money cooling or heating your house to a comfortable level. To stop this from happening, be sure to inspect window and door seals frequently.
14. Adjust Your Fridge’s Temperature
If your fridge’s temperature is set too low, you’ll spend more money than is necessary when running the appliance. You may also end up with unintentionally frozen food, which is another problem entirely.
Fridges should be set at between 37°F and 40°F. You can check the temperature by placing a thermometer in a glass of water and leaving it in the fridge overnight.
If yours is too cold, don’t increase your fridge temperature too far. This can result in food going bad faster than it would otherwise. Consider repeating the thermometer in water trick once you have increased the temperature to be sure.
15. Turn Off Unnecessary Lights
Turning off lights can save money, although the exact benefits and when you should will depend on the type of lights you use.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy:
- Turn off incandescent lights whenever they are not needed.
- Turn off halogen lights whenever they are not needed.
- Turn off CFL lights if you will be out of the room for more than 15 minutes. This is because these bulbs wear out faster if you turn them on and off frequently, and replacing them can be expensive.
- Always turn off LED lights when you leave the room.
16. Inspect Your Home’s Insulation
Poor insulation can cost money, as heat is lost through your walls and roof. Insulate Kansas City says homes can lose up to 20% of their energy through a poorly insulated attic.
Luckily, this is a relatively easy problem to fix on your own, as long as you have a bit of time to dedicate to the task.
It merely involves checking how much insulation you have in your attic and adding more where needed.
Wall insulation is, unfortunately, a trickier problem to fix than attic insulation. It may require hiring an expert. While this will be more expensive, the energy savings may be worth the initial cost over time.
17. Clean & Replace HVAC Filters Regularly
HVAC filters are filters you use in your air-conditioning unit. The U.S. Department of Energy says that replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower the amount of energy your unit uses by between 5% and 15%.
Depending on how much you typically spend on keeping your home cool, this could be a significant amount of money. The savings you get will depend on whether your filter requires replacing or cleaning. If you only have to clean it, you won’t have any extra costs at all.
Saving energy isn’t the only reason to replace an HVAC filter. A dirty filter may cause allergens to build up, which may be released when you run the unit.
18. Keep Doors and Windows Closed
The last of our tips is also perhaps the simplest: Keep your doors and windows closed when you are running either your heating or your air-conditioning.
If you leave doors and windows open, you will allow hot or cold air to leave the room you are in. This will heat or cool a place that doesn’t need to be temperature controlled.
On a similar note, if the temperature is only slightly too warm, consider opening your windows to let in a natural breeze rather than turning on the air conditioning.
Most of the tips on this list will result in modest savings. But by implementing multiple suggestions, you may find that you’re able to achieve significant savings on your energy bills. The key is to form good habits and be consistent in implementing them.
If you live in a household with multiple people, educate those you live with about the best ways to reduce the amount of electricity they use. This will ensure everyone knows what to do to decrease costs.
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Ricardo is an entrepreneur, investor and personal finance nerd who enjoys spending time with his family and friends, travelling and helping others achieve their financial goals. Ricardo has been quoted as a personal finance expert in several online publications including Healthline, Bankrate, GOBankingRates, MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and USA Today.