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Ways to Reduce Your Bill

Saving energy in your home doesn’t require a major investment of money or time. Follow these low-cost (or even no-cost!) efficiency tips and you’ll see a difference in your electric bill.

Scroll down to find helpful energy-saving suggestions for each of the following categories:

  • Cooling
  • Heating
  • Water Heating
  • Lighting
  • Refrigerator/Freezer
  • Washer/Dryer
  • Range/Oven
  • Dishwasher
  • Electronics

Cooling

During the summer months, costs associated with keeping your home comfortably cool can make up around 55% of your electric bill. Here’s how to stay cool and save.

No-cost tips

  • Leave drapes and blinds closed during the day to keep out heat—particularly on the south, east, and west sides of your home.
  • Remove debris and obstructions from around outdoor air conditioning components.
  • If you have a central air conditioning system, don’t close off rooms or close vents; that puts additional strain on your system, increasing the cost of operation.
  • Don’t place lamps, wall-mounted televisions, or other electronics close to your thermostat. Heat from these appliances can be detected by the thermostat causing your air conditioning system to run longer than necessary.
  • Set your thermostat at 78 during the summer and even higher if you’re going to be away for more than 24 hours. Every degree raised can cost 2% to 3% on cooling costs.
  • Don’t set your air conditioner any lower than needed.  This causes the compressor to work longer, which can cause the cooling coil to ice, becoming less efficient.
  • Switching your air conditioning fan from “on” to “auto” can save up to $20 each month on your electric bill.
  • Do not cool unused areas or storage rooms

 

Low-cost tips

  • Run an exhaust fan while cooking to draw hot air out of the kitchen.
  • Replace disposable air filters or clean permanent filters once a month to maximize efficiency and save on energy costs.
  • Use the bathroom fan to remove heat and humidity from your home when you shower or take a bath.  Turn it off when you’re finished.
  • Plant a tree; it will beautify your landscape while keeping your home cooler during the summer.  Be mindful of powerlines before planting!
  • Maintain the effectiveness of your cooling system by having it serviced at least once a year.

Heating

When cold weather sets in, heating your home can account for up to 52% of your total energy bill. Here are some ideas for managing your electric use.

No-cost tips

  • Open the drapes or blinds during the day to help capture heat from sunlight, close them at night to help retain the heat gain.
  • Set the thermostat to 68 degrees when at home. If you’re going away for the weekend, lower the thermostat to 60 degrees. Put another blanket on the bed and turn the thermostat down a few degrees at night.
  • Never use a stove, oven, or portable grill as an indoor heat source; doing so creates a safety hazard.
  • Building a fire in your fireplace may look nice, but it’s not the most efficient way to heat. Much of the inside warm air can go right up the chimney. If you use a fireplace, remember to close the damper after the fire is out.
  • Do not heat unused areas or storage rooms.

Low-cost tips

  • Replace disposable air filters, or clean permanent filters at least once a month. A dirty filter forces your equipment to work harder, resulting in higher electric bills.
  • Running a ceiling fan on “low” can be useful in circulating warm air throughout a room.
  • Reduce heat loss by installing weather stripping and seals around doors and windows. Install gaskets under switch plates for lights and electrical outlets.  Caulk all potential air leaks.

Water Heating

Water heating accounts for 15%-20% of monthly energy usage.  These ideas can save you money.

No-cost tips

  • Save energy by taking short showers instead of baths. A five-minute shower typically uses less than 15 gallons of water, while a bath can use 30 to 40 gallons.
  • Around 80% of the energy used to wash clothes goes to heating water. Save on your electric bill by washing as many loads as possible in cold water.
  • Turn the water heater thermostat down to 120 degrees. This can save up to $10 per month. If you have an electric water heater, be sure to turn off the power before changing the setting.
  • Draining a bucketful of hot water from the faucet at the base of your water heater several times a year will reduce sediment buildup and make the heating elements last longer.

Low-cost tips

  • Make sure faucets are turned off completely and repair any leaks. A dripping hot water faucet can leak hundreds of gallons a year, increasing water heating costs.
  • Improve your water heater’s efficiency by wrapping it in an insulated jacket made for this purpose.
  • Install a low-flow showerhead to reduce water usage.

Lighting

Lighting typically accounts for about 8% to 10% of the average electric bill. Follow these tips to trim those costs.

No-cost tips

  • Turn off lights when not in use. It is more efficient to turn lights on and off again than to leave them on.
  • Take advantage of natural light.
  • Keep light fixtures and bulbs clean.  Dust absorbs 50% of light.

Low-cost tips

  • New energy-efficient compact florescent and LED bulbs produce more light for less energy. The initial cost is higher, but they last much longer.
  • Prioritize bulb replacement according to how often the fixture is used to save the most energy and money.
  • Paint interior walls a lighter color. This will reflect light throughout your house and reduce the need for additional lighting.

Refrigerator/Freezer

Your refrigerator is typically one of the most expensive home appliances to operate. Here are some helpful ideas to reduce running costs.

No-cost tips

  • Every time you open the refrigerator or freezer door, 30% of the cool air (air that you’ve paid to cool!) escapes. Decide what you want prior to opening the door.
  • It’s not anybody’s idea of a fun but cleaning the coils underneath and behind your unit will keep it running efficiently.
  • Additional refrigerators are convenient, but you can save by not placing an additional refrigerator in a garage or shop. During the summer months, operating an older model refrigerator in one of these spaces can cost an extra $15-20 per month.
  • Keep your fridge and freezer full, but not overcrowded. Use jugs of water or bags of ice to fill empty space.
  • Pay attention to temperatures. Keeping the refrigerator or freezer compartments too cold can cost money. Manufacturer-recommended temperatures are 35 to 38 degrees for the fridge, and 0 to 5 degrees for the freezer section. Check the setting by placing an outdoor or refrigerator thermometer on the middle shelf overnight.
  • Cover all liquids stored in the refrigerator. Moisture drawn into the air makes your fridge work harder.
  • Check the condition of the door gaskets using a dollar bill. Close the refrigerator or freezer door on a dollar bill and attempt to remove it. If it slides out with no resistance, the gasket needs replaced.

Washer/Dryer

Typical four-person households wash nearly 400 loads of laundry per year. Conventional washers use 40-50 gallons of water per load.  High-efficiency washers use as little as one-third that amount. Here are some easy ways to reduce the energy needed on laundry day.

No-cost tips

  • Avoid running the washer or dryer until there’s a full load. Dry consecutive loads to take advantage of the heat stored in the dryer from the previous load.
  • On sunny days, hang your clothes on an outside line and dry your clothes the old-school (and cost -free) way!
  • Be sure to clean the lint filter of your dryer after every load.
  • Adjust your dryer’s heat setting to “low” and take care not to over-dry your clothes.
  • Every few months, inspect the outside dryer vent and clean when necessary.
  • Wash in cold water and set water levels to medium settings.

Range/oven

There are ways to make cooking and baking easier on your electric bill. Here are a few of them.

No-cost tips

  • Avoid preheating the oven longer than necessary.
  • Turn the oven off 15 minutes prior to the specified baking time. The residual heat will finish the cooking process.
  • Leave the oven door closed during baking. Each time the door is opened, 25 to 50 degrees of heat is lost.
  • If possible, cook several dishes at the same time.
  • Minimize heat loss on the stove-top by using flat-bottom pots or skillets with tight-fitting lids matching the size of the burner.
  • Grill-out or microwave during the summer.

Dishwasher

Roughly 70% to 80% of the energy required to wash dishes goes to heating water. Follow these suggestions to help your dishwasher run more efficiently.

No-cost tips

  • Only run the dishwasher when there’s a full load.
  • Use the “energy-saving” button on the dishwasher or air-dry the dishes and save up to 20% on energy by eliminating the heating function.
  • During the summer, run the dishwasher during the cooler early morning or late evening. The heat and humidity added by dishwashing causes the air conditioner to work harder.

Electronics

The many devices we use require electricity! These tips will help you manage this rapidly developing area of energy use.

No-cost tips

  • Beware of energy “vampires.” Computers, TVs, wall-chargers, etc. use power even when not in use. The rule is: if a device is displaying a “ready” light, even if not turned “on”, it’s using electricity. Unplug these devices when not in use and save energy.

Low-cost tips

  • To manage charging your devices easier and more efficiently, create a “charging station” using a power strip. Turn the power strip off when nothing’s charging.

General

These suggestions may not fall neatly within a category, but they can help you save on your monthly energy bill.

No-cost tips

  • Keep windows and doors near your thermostat closed tightly. Keep heat sources such as lamps and appliances away from the thermostat.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when replacing appliances.
  • Keep appliance manuals handy.  Many contain energy-saving tips for operation.

 Low-cost tips

  • Install and caulk weather-stripping around windows and doors to stop air leaks.
  • Seal gaps in floors and walls where there are plumbing and electrical connections.
  • Install aerating/low-flow faucets and showerheads.
  • Have ductwork inspected and repair any leaks.
  • Make sure the attic has at least 12 inches of insulation.

 

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