Looking for ways to save money on your electric bill? If you want to lower your electric, gas and water bill, there are many affordable, efficient and easy strategies that can reduce your water and energy costs by as much as 50%.
These simple do-it-yourself changes and renovations require a minimal upfront investment (usually a few dollars), but can save you $100, $200, or even $300 per month. By learning how to cut your utility and/or electric bills, you can easily save more than a $1,000 a year. Here’s our guide to saving money by lowering your energy costs!
How To Lower Utility Bills
Here are a few ways to save money on your utility bills by either cutting down on usage or just paying attention to how much
First and foremost, the Department of Energy says you can save up to 10% on utility costs by installing a programmable thermostat. A hi-tech thermostat generally cost between $50 and $150, but this initial investment will greatly reduce your long-term energy costs by allowing you to determine how cool or warm to keep your home throughout the year.
If you don’t have pets and aren’t home during the day, you can turn off your air conditioner during summer months and your heater during winter months while you aren’t home. With a programmable thermostat, you can even preset it so your A/C or heating will turn on shortly before you’re due to arrive home, thus maximizing your comfort without the expensive electric bill.
In general, keep your house at 68 degrees at night and 62 degrees during the day in the winter months. For summer, you can maintain a temperature between 74 to 78 degrees. If you have trouble acclimating to the new temperature in your home, be gradual about the change and get used to it. There is no point in getting yourself sick throughout the winter months just to save a few bucks.
Energy Star Appliances
If it’s time to replace your appliances, we strongly recommend purchasing ones that are Energy Star rated. Energy Star appliances – refrigerators, furnaces, washing machines, stoves, water heaters, etc. – use far less energy than non-rated alternatives. These large appliances may cost slightly more upfront, but when compared to the long-term savings from lower utility bills, the benefits of owning an Energy Star appliance outweigh any downsides. As always, research to find the best time to buy large appliances.
Wash With Cold Water
It’s no surprise that heating water requires energy, but did you know that 90% of the energy your washing machine uses goes to heat water? And considering the EPA’s assessment that the average American family does over 400 loads of laundry per year, switching to cold water could result in huge savings on your monthly electric bill.
According to the Sierra Club, this can decrease your annual carbon emissions by 1,600 pounds, the equivalent of about 200 gallons of gasoline in a car (you should also check out our How To Save Money on Gas article). Additionally, you can switch to a front-load washer, which uses 30-50% less water than a conventional top-load washer.
Insulate Your Water Heater
Another way to increase your water-based energy savings as well as lower your electric bill is to insulate your water heater with a specialized blanket. Utilizing a hot water heater jacket can prevent heat loss by 25% to 50% and is a small investment that can save you 5% to 10% off your electric bill.
Low-Flow Toilets and Showers
Did you know that conventional toilets use between 4 and 8 gallons of water per flush? And that traditional showerheads output 4 to 5 gallons of water per minute? In a world where some people don’t even have access to proper sanitation and running water, these statistics are borderline ridiculous, not to mention wasteful.
To save money on water in your monthly utility bills, consider a switch to low-flow toilets and showerheads. Low-flow toilets use approximately 1.6 gallons of water per flush and low-flow showerheads pump out 1-2 gallons per minute, while maintaining high pressure. Toilets cost about $200, on average, and showerheads can cost $20 to $180, but the environmental and economic savings make the investment worth it. You can bet that homebuyers and tenants will notice the value of water-conserving additions.
To better protect your home from the elements and shield your rooms from chilly drafts, seal the openings of your doors and windows with weather stripping. It’s cheap, easy to install and keeps the cost of heating your home down by keeping warm air in and cold air out, or vice versa depending on the season. Even if home improvement isn’t your profession, weather stripping is a simple, DIY project for anyone who wants to lower their utility bills.
Heat rises – it’s science and there is nothing you can do about that fact. However, this generally isn’t a problem unless your attic doesn’t have enough insulation and all your heat escapes through here. You can save up to 20% on your electric bill if you insulate your home, particularly the problematic attic area.
For attic insulation, your options include cellulose, cotton, wool, and fiberglass. Cellulose and cotton are made from mostly recycled materials, are treated with fire retardant, and use fewer chemicals than the alternatives. Fiberglass has some recycled materials, but generally costs a little more than the aforementioned cellulose and cotton. Regardless of which option you choose, they are all simple to install – just check with one of the dozens of DIY guides and tutorials available online and you will save money on your monthly electric bill.
Change Your Light Bulbs
How many dollars does it take to change a light bulb? The answer: about $2.50 more than the energy-wasting incandescent light bulb. Compact fluorescent lights may cost $3 per bulb compared to 50 cents per incandescent bulb, but the energy savings are substantial.
Not only do CFL bulbs or LEDs last ten times longer, but they also use 75% less energy and save approximately $30 in energy costs over their lifetime. This means LEDs and fluorescent lights pay for themselves within the first 6 months of usage and greatly reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.
Regardless of the number of dishes in the dishwasher, you will use the same amount of energy running a cycle, so why not pack it full and use it only when you have to? You might consider forgoing the “heat dry” option and let your dishes “air dry” or manually dry them with a cloth. Finally, think about hand washing those large pots, pans and dishes that take up so much space in the dishwasher.
This may seem obvious, but people oftentimes overlook the disadvantages of leaving chargers and small appliances hooked up to outlets all the time. Every energy-consuming device counts when it comes to reducing your utility bill, and unplugging your seldom-used appliances (i.e. toaster ovens, coffee grinder, etc.) or chargers (i.e. phone, laptop, rechargeable battery charger, etc.) when they’re not in use can save you 5% to 10% on electricity.
For households in hot and humid climates, fans can be ineffective and air conditioning is expensive. An efficient alternative is installing exhaust fans in your home. Not only does an exhaust fan suck out dirty air, but it also eliminates humid air that hovers in the upper levels of your home. Although there is an upfront cost of installation, exhaust fans allow you to lower your electricity bill by minimizing your need for air conditioning during warmer months. The added bonus is that these fans keep clean air circulating throughout your house!
Other Energy Companies and Providers
A few states have deregulated energy markets (gas and electricity), which means you have more options when it comes to choosing your energy provider. Instead of signing up with the largest or most popular utility company, research all of the energy providers in your area. This could potentially reduce your monthly energy bill by up to 15%. Don’t hinge your energy bill on major providers who charge more and use resources with volatile prices. Instead, shop around and go with a more cost-effective provider.
Some companies even utilize renewable energy sources instead of coal or oil, both of which greatly contributes to the pollution problem via CO2 emissions, meaning a clean energy provider may just help lower your carbon footprint.
Save Money on Utilities
Cutting back on inefficient energy usage isn’t difficult, and it doesn’t even have to cost much in most cases. Whether you make a few tiny lifestyle changes, install energy-conserving appliances, cut back on heating and cooling altogether, or shop around for different energy companies, following the steps listed above can definitely help you lower your utility or electric bills and reduce your household’s carbon footprint. Give a few of these strategies a chance and we’d be shocked if you didn’t save a bundle in the next few months.