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12 Tips for Lowering Your Electric Bill

Change the light bulb to save energy
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If you’re like many people, you may be wondering how to lower electric bill costs. The average residential electric bill in the U.S. is $115.49, but what you pay every month can vary wildly depending on the season and location. Your bill may skyrocket for a few months of the year if you live in a place with harsh winters or blazing hot summers. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to save on electric bill fees. Here’s how to save money on electric bills regardless of where you call home.

12 ways to save money on electric bills

1. Do a home energy audit.

The first step in determining how to save money on electric bill payments is to find out where you’re losing money. A simple do-it-yourself home energy audit can help you identify and prioritize your home areas that could benefit from an energy savings upgrade.

2. Shop around (if you can).

As of 2020, nearly two dozen states and the District of Columbia have deregulated energy markets. This means that consumers can choose from a variety of electric suppliers and plans. Even if you live in a state without deregulation, your power company may offer several plans. Rather than accepting the standard plan from your utility company, shop around for a better rate per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

3. Upgrade your thermostat and consider zoning.

Traditional thermostats require you to physically adjust the settings. If yours is in a little-used spot like behind the stairs, it may not accurately reflect your bedroom or living room temperature. A programmable thermostat lets you choose different settings for different times of the day. A zoning system lets you divide your home into different areas, each controlled by its own thermostat. These solutions give you more precise control, potentially resulting in a lower electric bill.

4. Boost your insulation.

If you’re wondering how to lower an electric bill beyond the thermostat, invest in insulation. Insulation seals your home against drafts and air leaks, trapping your conditioned or heated air inside. Your HVAC equipment won’t have to work as hard, which can translate into real savings.

5. Dress for success.

Making simple adjustments to clothing is an important part of how to lower an electric bill. If you’re cold, put on a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of socks. If you’re hot, switch to shorts and a tank top. You can often change how warm or cold you feel without touching the thermostat at all.

6. Upgrade your washer and dryer.

Older clothes washers and dryers are not as energy efficient as newer models. Updating these appliances gives you access to newer settings that further maximize efficiency, depending on load size and cleaning needs. While you’re at it, use the extra spin cycle on your washer to minimize drying time and keep the dryer’s lint filter clean.

7. Go solar.

Converting your entire home to solar energy is expensive — and entirely out of the question for renters. But even small savings add up, and there are now numerous inexpensive ways to add a bit of solar power to your life. Device chargers, outdoor lights, and even water heaters are relatively cheap and easy to switch.

8. Check the refrigerator

Upgrading to a new energy-efficient refrigerator can be a smart investment. But no matter how old yours is, there are simple ways to keep it running efficiently. Dust the coils on the back at least every three months. Make sure the rubber gaskets are sealing properly. Set the refrigerator temperature to 37° and the freezer to 0°, and let warm leftovers cool before placing them inside.

9. Run appliances at night

Many electric plans charge more for usage during the day than at night. When looking at how to reduce an electric bill, focus on shifting as much usage as possible to the very early morning or late-night hours. Start big appliances, such as your clothes washer and dishwasher, after your rates change (which may be 8 p.m., 9 p.m., or some other time — check your bill or provider for details).

10. Think small

In general, the larger the appliance, the more power it consumes. When possible, use the microwave or toaster oven instead of your regular oven to make small meals. If you have just a few laundry items, save them for a bigger load or wash them out by hand and hang to dry.

11. Install motion sensor lights

If you’re always chasing people to turn off lights in unoccupied rooms, there’s an easier way. Motion sensor lights automatically come on when someone enters the room and turn off when they leave. If you want to know how to lower electric bills for a large family, this is an easy first step.

12. Use ceiling fans

Air conditioners use more power than any other appliance, so it only makes sense to reduce usage. Ceiling fans help you feel cooler while costing just pennies to operate.

How is my electricity bill calculated?

You can’t fully understand how to save on an electric bill until you know how that bill is calculated. Just multiply your rate per kilowatt-hour (listed on your bill) by the number of kilowatt-hours you used. To know how to reduce that number, you need to do some number crunching.

Every appliance has a specific wattage. It’s usually listed on the label as a number with the letter “W” at the end. If not, check your owner’s manual or look it up online. For each appliance, multiply the wattage by the number of hours you use it on an average day. Divide by 1,000 and then multiply by the kWh price on your bill. That’s how much your daily usage of that appliance costs. You can then multiply by 30 to see how much it costs over an average month.

This is a time-consuming but effective way to predict the results of different lifestyle changes. Don’t want to do it by hand? Use this energy use calculator.

The bottom line

High electric bills are a top concern for many families. Fortunately, even small savings add up over time. You can do some simple and inexpensive things, from dressing up or down for the weather to cleaning out the dryer lint filter that can help save money on your electric bill.

Frequently asked questions

What costs the most on your electric bill? 

The air conditioner is the most expensive appliance in the majority of homes.

Does unplugging save electricity? 

Yes. Computers, TVs, and other devices go into standby mode when plugged in but not in use. This uses significantly less electricity than full power mode, but unplugging them can save even more.

Why is my electric bill so high? 

It depends. The best way to find out is to conduct a home energy audit. This will help you identify and prioritize the problems.

Are energy and electricity the same? 

Yes and no. Electrical energy is a type of energy, but there are many other types, such as mechanical energy and thermal energy. Your home may use other energy sources, like natural gas or wood, to power certain appliances such as your furnace or stove.

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