Effective Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill Each Month
While the electric bill is typically the lowest bill of your monthly expenses, it is still something that you constantly have to pay. But what if you could lower that? Sounds nice right? And the best part is, you don't even have to buy any special products if you do not want to. Of course there are energy saving products that use less energy that will lower your electric bill while doing their designed purpose, but there are many other ways that you can lower your energy usage and in turn, lower your monthly electric bill. Not to mention, in doing so, you are also saving the planet.
Electric Bill and CO2
The energy you use every day is directly linked to the amount of CO2 you produce. So when you use less energy, you are also lowering your CO2 output and thus helping the environment a little bit. To get a little more specific, by conserving energy you can protect the air and combat climate change. We all know what causes air pollution. Greenhouse gases created by burning fossil fuels. Most power plants that generate electricity are able to do so from fossil fuels. So by you using less power in your home, the power plant does not have to generate as much on their end. This means less gases being emitted into our air.
Everyone probably knows what carbon dioxide is. The leading cause of most air pollution. When this gas is released into our atmosphere, it absorbs the sun’s heat and ultimately traps that heat in the atmosphere. It then produces what is known as the “greenhouse effect”, which is the warming of the Earth’s surface due to this and other gases.
For those who think in the long term, it is becoming more apparent that we are depleting our natural resources. When you choose to cut back on your energy use, you are also helping to save the few natural resources we have left. It is all supply and demand, in a sense. The less demand for energy there is, thus creates less demand for harvesting fossil fuels. This also comes back around to money once again. As fossil fuels become more and more scarce, they will also become extremely expensive. So even if you are just here to figure out how you can save a bit of money each month, you are still helping the overall efforts of conservation, so HA!
Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill
But let’s get to the real reason why you are here. That is, how in the world can you actually lower your electric bill? To start, conserving energy in your home is broken down into a few different categories. Lighting, heating and cooling, cooking, appliances, and then some miscellaneous tips and tricks. These are some ideas that you can do, that do not require switching to renewable power (which is the best way to be green). Shall we get started?
Keeping the lights and electronics on accounts fro about 12% of a home's energy usage. Here are some things you can do to reduce your how much energy you use for your lighting.
- Changing Light Bulbs- We did a whole article on energy efficient bulbs, that you can read here. But basically by switching out your CFL bulbs with more efficient LED ones, you can save up to $75 per year. Yes, they are expensive to buy. However, this is about the long term. LEDs last as long as 50,000 hours and use 2-17 watts. That is ⅓-1/30 of incandescents. They also do not have any heavy metals like mercury that CFLs contain.
- Dimmers- These bad boys are incredibly useful. They allow you to change how bright your lights are in any given room. Helping to save electricity and set the mood.
- Power Strips- Most of your electronics that you have to plug in, never really turn off. While the application itself is off, if it is still plugged in, it is still drawing power. However, if you plug those into a power strip and turn off the strip, there will be no power flowing to those appliances, thus saving energy.
- Turn off your lights!- You do not need your lights on in a room when you are not in that room. Most of the time, if you have a window that lets in a good amount of sunlight, you do not even need the light on when you are in it.
Heating and Cooling
Home heating and cooling are some of the biggest contributors to your electric bill. If you are trying to lower your monthly expenses, it may be a good idea to lower your heating and cooling usage.
- Filters- Change or clean your furnace and air conditioner filters regularly to ensure that your heating and cooling systems are running efficiently. Dust can restrict airflow, making your system work harder than it has to.
- Windows- Test windows and doors to see if they need new weather-stripping. You can do this by moving a lit candle around the edges. If the flame flickers, you need to install new weather-stripping. Whatever you do, do not put the candle near any curtains or blinds. You would think we wouldn’t have to say this.
- Thermostat- In the winter, it is best to set your thermostat to 68 degrees in the daytime and 55 degrees at night. In the summer keep it at 78. Lowering your thermostat just 2 degrees in the winter can save 6% of heating related CO2 emissions. That is a reduction of 420 pounds of CO2 per year for a typical home. In energy terms, lowering your thermostat for just 8 hours can lower your annual costs by around 10%. A programmable thermostat will do the work for you.
- Improve System Efficiency- Install ceiling fans to improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems. Add attic insulation to increase the efficiency of both your furnace and air conditioner.
Cooking and Kitchen
A lot of energy is wasted when you are cooking or using the kitchen. From the stove top, to the fridge, there is a lot you can do to help lower your electric bill.
- Thaw your food- Thaw any frozen food before cooking it. Otherwise you will waste energy by defrosting it in the microwave or oven.
- Adjust Your Fridge- Keep your fridge at 38 degrees fahrenheit. If your fridge has a dial with numbers 1-10, you can buy a fridge thermometer relatively cheap. For your freezer, keep it at 5 degrees. Doing so will stop the fridge and freezer from working too hard to keep it colder than they need to be.
- Cover Pans- When boiling water, be sure to cover the pan. This will make the water boil much quicker and use less energy.
- Turning Off The Burner- You can turn off the burner just before the food is completely cooked. The residual heat will finish the job.
- Over-Prepare- Make more food than you need. This way you can heat up the rest later which uses less energy, instead of making a whole new dish.
- Burner Efficiency- Use the appropriate size burner on your range. Small for small pots or pans, large for, well, large pots or pans.
- Preheating- Do not worry about preheating much for most recipes. With the exception of pastries or cakes.
While just reducing the energy you use on a daily basis is a good idea, buying energy saving appliances is another good thing to try out. These will automatically lower the amount of electricity you use, so you will just be able to keep doing things normally. Anything with the energy star on it will be a great choice if you are trying to lower your electric bill.
Tips and Tricks
There are a lot of things you can do with your appliances and the stuff that uses electricity. But is there more? Here are a few smart tips and tricks to try out that can help to reduce your electric bill.
- Air dry clothing. Not only will it relieve some stress on your clothes making them last longer, it will also conserve the energy usually used by the dryer.
- Get yourself a low-flow shower head. These reduce the amount of water usage during a standard shower.
- Also, reduce the time spent in the shower. Water waste is a leading contributor to water pollution. Clean water is also becoming increasingly scarce.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. By recycling certain materials, those materials can be made into new materials, the manufacturing of which uses much less energy than using raw materials.
- Compost kitchen waste rather than either throwing it away or putting in the garbage disposal.
- Consider repainting certain areas of your home. Dark colors absorb heat more than lighter colors.
While reducing your overall energy usage is a great and easy way to lower your electric bill, there is even more that you could be doing. Even though not everyone can do it, if you can it is absolutely worth it. That is investing in renewable energy, like solar. Solar energy is the best, most efficient method of providing clean energy to your personal home.
There are a lot of savings that can be taken advantage of with solar power. There are many savings calculators out there that you can use, but here is an example of savings. Assuming your monthly electric bill is $100 with an annual electricity rate increase of 3%. There is also a 30% tax credit for the net installation cost of solar panels. By not going solar, you would expect to be paying about $25,000 for your electricity over the next 20 years.
A 4kW solar system will give you about 5,694 kWh per month. The average resident in the United States will use 10,908-kilowatt hours per year. This means that homeowners will be able to cut their electric bill in half. Roughly a savings of about $675 per year and about $13,500 of savings over 20 years. That number can get even higher as many states will offer incentives like tax credits, utility rebates, solar power performance payments, net metering, low-cost loans, grants and more. Taking everything into consideration, you could be looking at around $19,000 back to you. Which is actually more than the initial installation of the solar system, about $10,000.
Making sure your air quality is top notch is very important. If you end up with bad air quality in your home, it can be even more dangerous than bad air quality outside. This is because it is more concentrated, meaning you are breathing in a higher amount of pollutants than you would be outside. This can result in a number of health problems including bronchitis or pneumonia symptoms.
So follow those steps, keep your area clean and keep an eye out for environmental contaminants happening around your house. For any other information on how to stay happy, healthy, and green, check out the rest of Green and Growing.