There is literally no limit to how much you can lower your electric bill. If that statement sounds impressive, it truly is. If it sounds impossible, it actually isn’t. Given enough motivation on your part and sufficient financial resources, what you can achieve is simply a function of what you are looking to accomplish. Whether you want to shave just 10% off your electric bill each month or get off the grid completely and generate your own electricity, anything is possible.
However, since most of us lack the upfront financial resources to purchase and install power generation equipment such as wind turbines or solar power panels, I will focus instead upon those tips and tricks to help reduce, but not eliminate, your electric bill. How much effort you wish to put forth will be dependent upon how much money you want to save. In other words, if you want to slash your electric bill by 50% or more, you had better be prepared for some major changes.
Right now is an excellent time for homeowners to invest into energy-saving upgrades to their homes. The tax credits available are the highest they have ever been, although the expense of some upgrades may still be beyond the means of some. Many changes that can be made require no money whatsoever though, and I will be discussing those ideas as well.
Firstly, homeowners can likely benefit from a home energy audit from a reputable company. These businesses specialize in finding exactly where your home is siphoning the most money from your wallet. Heat and cold air can escape from your home via windows, doors, walls, the ceiling and roof, vents and even small cracks. Auditors will show you where your greatest problems lie, and as I am very fond of saying, you cannot effectively solve a problem if you don’t know exactly what (or where) it is.
Upgrading to energy-efficient windows that are installed correctly will save you significant sums of money on your heating and cooling bills, especially if you’re upgrading from the old single pane variety. Similarly, replacing a dated air conditioning system with a newer, energy efficient model will help too, especially in combination with meticulous attention to ductwork insulation. A less expensive alternative than these options would be to replace an old electric water heater. Also, adding additional insulation to your attic and walls can make a huge difference, depending upon how much insulation was there previously.
Many cheaper alternatives are available to homeowners and renters alike. For example, instead of replacing your electric water heater, you can simply insulate it with a jacket. This is cost effective, and it works. Of course the same thing applies to gas water heaters, but this article is focused instead upon how to lower your electric bill. Additionally, by lowering the temperature of your water heater, you can save a bundle over time.
Using less heated water is a great way to reduce your energy footprint; start by not heating water as it enters your dishwasher and by not using heat to dry your dishes. The savings will add up quickly. Also, one tip that I practice to save money, water and help the environment at the same time is to turn the shower off while I’m scrubbing down my body with soap and a washcloth. Then I simply restart the water flow, rinse off and get out. This saves at least 3-4 minutes of heated water usage every single day, which adds up to hours of usage over the course of a year.
Your refrigerator is a potential gold mine of electrical energy savings, especially if it was manufactured prior to 2001. Although not very attractive, I have a chest freezer that I glued Styrofoam insulation to in an effort to improve efficiency. It yielded a small, but never-the-less noticeable difference on my electric bill. Replacing an older model refrigerator will yield even more impressive results.
Your washing machine and electric dryer are also areas that can be targeted for savings. Begin by washing in cold water and only doing so with full loads of laundry. As far as drying is concerned, with a clothesline or laundry rack you can greatly reduce the use of your dryer. When you do need to use it, select the timed settings instead of the other higher heat options.
Other areas in which to save money include using ceiling and other fans instead of air conditioning or simply opening windows, adjusting your thermostat, closing off rooms in your home that are used infrequently (not forgetting to completely close the vents inside), caulking the gaps and cracks in your home, adding weather stripping, insulating ductwork and adding storm doors. You can also derive significant cumulative benefit from replacing frequently used incandescent lights with compact fluorescents. Additionally, turning off lights that are not in use is a habit that is very much worth establishing.
Even more areas of potential savings can be had by turning off your computer and other appliances (televisions, radios, etc.) when not in use. Going one step further, unplugging anything that is not used on a daily basis saves electricity, even if that device is already turned off. The more things you unplug, the greater your savings will be. Everything from washers and dryers to microwaves and toasters is fair game.
An important point to remember is that much of the advice listed herein really involves a lifestyle change. As such, you should think of the tips as permanent choices that are now and forever part of your daily routine. Many of them are passive once implemented, but others require active participation on your part and thus require forming long-term habits. This takes a few weeks, but once such habits are fully established, they will become normal to you and require far less effort to maintain. Trust me, when you receive your “new” electric bill, it will be well worth it!