Many people are looking for ways to slash their power bills, especially after this past winter, which in certain areas of the country was the coldest on record. The amount of money that many of us shelled out to our local utilities last winter in order to keep the heat going was enough to sabotage any budget.
One of the best ways to cut utility bills is by getting off the vulnerable electrical grid as much as possible. Four ways to do that are by installing solar panels, a wind turbine, a solar water heater and a solar cooker at your home. Regardless of whether you are able to do that, there are many additional steps you can take in order to reduce your power costs. Following are 35 of them:
- Use natural lighting as often as possible by keeping shades, curtains and window treatments above the windows open during the day.
- Regardless of whether you’re using standard light bulbs or energy-efficient bulbs, keep in mind that using one high-wattage bulb is less expensive than several low-wattage bulbs.
- Turn off lights when they’re not being used, even if it’s just for a short time.
- Adjust light levels to what is needed. Lights frequently don’t need to be as bright as they are in a room.
- Incandescent light bulbs have lower price tags compared to other bulbs, but they are actually more expensive to use. LEDs use 10 times less energy and last 50 times longer than incandescent lights.
- Laptop computers use less energy than desktop models. Turn them off overnight, as well as your printers and monitors.
- Unplug your battery chargers when your devices are fully charged. Chargers continue to draw power when they’re plugged in, even if they’re not connected to a device.
- Installing aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads is a great way to reduce water consumption. The shower is the biggest user of hot water in a household.
- Shortening your shower times will cut hot water usage and use up less energy from your hot water heater.
- Cover bare floors with carpeting or throw rugs, which will aid with heat retention. Wear layers at home in winter so you can keep the thermostat lower.
- Conduct a room-by-room vent inventory and make sure that each one is clean and not covered by furniture, drapes, articles of clothing or other objects.
- Replace air filters regularly, including ones for furnaces, exhaust hoods, humidifiers and vacuums. Sometimes, less expensive filters are better for airflow than more expensive brands.
- Whenever possible, run full loads of laundry rather than partial loads. An average family can save 3,400 gallons of water per year by running full loads.
- Wash your clothes in cold water, which will allow the hot water heater to take a break and will save on energy and money. Nearly 90 percent of the energy consumed by a washing machine goes to heating water.
- Next time a new dryer is needed, purchase one that includes an electronic sensor that shuts off the dryer when clothes are dry.
- Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load. A clean filter allows the dryer to work more efficiently.
- Use your dishwasher’s air-dry setting. If it doesn’t have one, you can turn the dishwasher off after the rinse cycle, open the unit’s door and allow the dishes to air dry.
- Set the refrigerator temperature to between 36 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep meats and fish lower in the refrigerator, and fruits and vegetables higher. The freezer should be set between -10 and 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Clean the refrigerator and freezer units once or twice a year, including removing dust from condenser coils, fins, evaporator pans and motors.
- When it comes time to replace a refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, clothes washer or dryer, and other electrical appliances, choose energy-efficient models.
- As much as possible, use small appliances, including toaster ovens, slow cookers and electric skillets, which use less energy than larger appliances.
- Use cold water when operating the garbage disposal. Grease can be solidified much easier in cold water than in hot water, moving it efficiently through the disposal and pipes.
- Use portable electrical space heaters when the entire house does not need to be heated.
- Limit the use of fireplaces, which can let more heat out of a house than they produce within the house.
- Set the home thermostat to 68 to 70 degrees during cold days and 65 to 68 at night. In the summer, set it to 78 degrees.
- In the winter, leave drapes, blinds and window shades open during the day to enable the sun to heat the home. During the summer, close them to keep the heat out.
- Get a tune-up for your heating, ventilating and air conditioning system once a year. Never stack anything against it or drape anything over it.
- Ceiling fans, which use no more electricity than a standard light bulb, can be used in various rooms instead of an air conditioner. They should turn in a counter-clockwise direction in the summer and clockwise in the winter.
- Make sure that all ductwork is properly sealed. Even a small leak can be a big energy waster.
- Plant trees on the sunny side of your house to keep it shaded during the hotter months. They can also help block winds during the winter.
- Put outdoor dusk-to-dawn lights on an automatic timer. Or consider using motion sensor lighting only.
- Grill meat and other food outside whenever possible in order to avoid using the oven.
- Insulate your attic, which will allow for less energy usage to keep the house warm.
- Insulate around windows and doors by weather stripping and caulking areas where there are air leaks.
- Conduct an energy audit on your home to determine where the house is losing energy.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to incorporate a significant number of these tips in order to save on your power bill. But even if you only start with a few of them, it will be worth it.