Saving on electricity is always a good idea. After all, it's actually one of the monthly household bills most amenable to a budget overhaul.
Depending on your household income, electricity costs can be easy to manage or tough to pay for - the average monthly utility bill in the U.S. hovers around the $200 level, according to Move.org.
But that figure can be higher or lower depending on the state where you reside, the size of your residence, and most important, how judicious you are in conserving energy in your household.
No matter what you pay for your electricity, there's no doubt you can save money if you apply a few effective and even creative measures to keep your utility bill down every month.
That not only helps trim household spending, it also means you're contributing to the ongoing effort to curb the use of fossil fuel-based energy and keeping the planet cleaner.
10 Ways to Save Electricity
What are the best ways to save on electricity? Read on and see how easy it is to take the steps needed to curb your electric bill and help the planet.
1) Take a Big Picture View of Your Energy Usage
Job one is to take a cold, hard, birds-eye view of your household energy costs, and analyze what usage behaviors need changing. This is your starting point - a complete review of your electric usage gives you a good idea of what actions need to be prioritized.
So put your thinking cap on and review your monthly electric bill. Utility companies have come a long way and these days will break your bills down and show you where you're using the most energy. That can help you see where there is room for improvement with your household electricity usage.
This could be as simple as turning off more lights, keeping the air conditioning and heating unit off or at low-usage power, or even washing the dishes yourself and foregoing the nightly electric dishwasher routine.
The goal here is to review your usage.
Then, create a checklist of areas where you can save on energy (more on that below) and build a blueprint going forward on how you're going to manage your household utilities, and where you'll save money doing so.
2) Invest in a Mobile App for Saving Energy
In this, the heyday of the digital age, there is certainly no shortage of cool, effective mobile apps that focus on saving on electricity costs.
Apps like Kill-Ur-Watts (which pinpoints specific ways you can save, based on your own energy usage) or Energy Tracker (which bundles your electricity and gas usage and funnels the data into an e-notebook to track your usage and point out ways to cut that usage) can be highly-useful tools to launch and sustain your home energy savings campaign.
Kill-Ur-Watts is free and Energy Tracker costs 99 cents, making them affordable to use, too - especially considering the cash you'll save using them.
3) Get a Home Energy Monitor
Investing in a home energy monitor to more accurately track your household electric usage makes great sense, too.
Essentially, a home energy monitor plugs into your home's electric meter and tracks overall usage, like with home appliances and lamp and lighting use, and offers tips on how to use your household utilities more efficiently.
A good home energy monitor costs between $150 and $300, depending on features included, but that's a small price to pay considering you'll start saving $50, $60 or $70 per month on electricity once you start cutting your household energy usage using the monitor.
4) Replace Every Older Light Bulb in Your House
If you're using old-timey incandescent light bulbs, you're throwing money away every month. They wear out faster than new-age bulbs and burn more energy in their every usage
Your best move is to unscrew every old light bulb in your home and replace them with Halogen-based or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs commonly found at any home goods or even grocery store. The newer bulbs use up to 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs and will burn up to 25 times longer than older bulbs, according to utility industry data.
Energy-efficient light bulbs do cost more than their aging predecessors, but again, over time you'll rake in the savings by simply screwing in more effective light bulbs - a task that takes 15 minutes or so, depending on the size of your home.
5) Invest in "Smart" Power Strips
You may not know it, but even when you turn off your television or laptop computer for the night, they're still burning valuable and expensive juice, if they're still plugged into an electrical outlet.
Better to go out and buy a few smart power strips or "smart towers" which can retail for as little as $25 or as much as $65. Once again, smart power strips are worth the investment.
Smart power strips, also known as advance power trips, offer abundant energy savings features, including the ability to cut power usage even as the strips protect your devices from power surges.
Additionally, a good power strip can electronically unplug connected devices (eliminating so-called "vampire" power usage) and be programmed to keep critical household appliances that need power on a continual basis, like a baby's night light or the home's heater on a cold night.
6) Focus on Your HVAC Unit
Your heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit is likely your home's largest devourer of electricity. Tame the HVAC beast by first changing the filters (higher-price permanent filters are a great idea and worth the extra cost) and check to see your unit's Freon coolant levels are adequate.
Curbing your heating unit is even easier - just turn it down as low as possible. Studies show that for each degree in temperature you lower the thermostat, you save 3% off your monthly energy bill.
7) Seal the Cracks
Just about every U.S. home - especially older ones - have vulnerabilities to outside elements, i.e., wind, rain, snow, heat, all of which can damage a home's electrical efficiency.
Consequently, those cracks and openings in a home's windows, doors, ceiling, attic and roofs, and frames and corners need to be sealed tight to keep the elements out and the electricity in.
Get the job done with simple foam sealing products and draft guards, both easily obtainable at Home Depot (HD) - Get Report , True Value or Lowe's (LOW) - Get Report . Expect to pay between $350 to $600 for whole-house sealing.
8) Install a Programmable Thermostat
Homeowners who change to a programmable thermostat can save an estimated 10% annually.
A programmable thermostat automatically adjusts the set temperature by seven degrees or so for eight hours while you're at work in the summer or winter to use less energy.
Users can program the device to automatically hike the thermostat an hour before you get home, thus giving you maximum savings on your thermostat use without any discomfort from a home that's too cold or too hot, depending on the weather outside.
9) Be Smart About Large Appliance Usage
Outside of an HVAC, the big energy-suckers in any home include the usual larger-sized appliances - especially your washer, dryer and dishwasher.
Apply a pair of simple but effective ironclad rules when using the above devices.
- Only run them when you have a full load or clothing or dishes.
- Operate those loads at night, when most utility rates are lower.
It's also helpful to only run your washer in cold-water mode (it takes less energy and is cheaper) and run your dishwasher on shorter cycles.
Then turn your attention to your oven - and turn it off. Ovens are notorious energy drainers. Instead, turn to lower-energy cooking devices like your microwave or crock pot.
10) Buy "Energy Star" Appliances
When you go shopping for new appliances, focus your search on refrigerators, dishwashers and HVACs with an "Energy Star" logo on the product.
The Energy Star label is important, as it signals the appliance adheres to regimented government stands on energy efficiency. According to industry estimates, users who buy Energy Star appliances can expect to save, on average, 30% on energy costs (per device).
That's worth ditching your old appliance any day of the week, and it's a good capper on the jug on any electric household electricity savings campaign.