Adulthood comes with a lot of surprises that we had no idea to expect when we were younger. We now have so much responsibility that it can almost feel overwhelming, even with helpful energy saving tips from friends and family. With rent or mortgage, a car payment, insurance, groceries, and other bills piling up, it feels like there’s no way to control any of it. When it comes to managing your home finances, you probably see a good portion of it going into your utility bills.
You are probably conflicted between trying to save some money by turning the heat off or feeling comfortable in your home. Well, we are here to share 12 ideas that can help reduce your energy bills without starting a full blown remodel. When you implement these simple and cost effective energy saving tips, your wallet will thank you!
Energy Bill Breakdown
It is estimated that the average family spends about $1,500 on energy bills each year, according to the US Department of Energy. A lot of things can cause your energy bills to be high and can be split up into three different categories: Heating and Cooling, Water, and Electricity. These utilities make up your energy bills. For each category, we will give some tips and examples of how to cut the costs for that specific section of your bill. This will make it a bit easier to tackle the process of sitting down to pay your monthly bills.
Heating and Cooling
Running your heat and air conditioner can really rack up your energy bill. Mainly because we leave them on constantly so we have constant comfort. So, how do we do lower costs without lowering our comfort level? These energy saving tips will help you reduce your heating and cooling costs.
Seal leaks on windows, doors, appliances, and duct work.
This is a big one that can make a difference on your bill. Any outside air coming in can make it feel cooler which, in turn, might cause you to turn the heat up. Likewise, all of your heat from inside can leak out, which can also cause you to crank up the heat.
Luckily, this is a pretty simple fix. You will just need some weather stripping and some door sweeps. Of course, you can use weather stripping on windows and doors, but you can also put it on your refrigerator and freezer. You want to make sure you keep the cold air inside those appliances. The same goes for duct work. Make sure you seal any leaks in your home’s ducts, so all your hot air is going only where it’s needed.
Turn down the heat.
Depending on the weather where you live, you should highly consider turning down your thermostat as much as 10 degrees while you’re sleeping or at work. This may seem like a lot, but it is well worth it. If your home is properly insulated, it will still stay relatively warm. Even if it does feel a bit cold, you won’t notice because you will be asleep or at work. If it worries you to continuously readjust your thermostat because you think you will forget, there are smart thermostats which can be programmed to change temperatures at a specified time.
Adjust your refrigerator and freezer temperatures.
Letting your temperatures run high on your fridge and freezer can cause them to work a lot harder to keep food cold and to increase your bills. You can set your fridge to 38 degrees and your freezer anywhere between 0 and 5 degrees. This will keep your food fresh without overworking your appliances.
There’s no surprise that electricity is a huge part of your energy bills. With the number of electronics we keep plugged in and lights that need to stay on, there’s no wonder it’s so high. Not to worry! These energy saving tips will help you lower your electric bill.
Buy energy-efficient light bulbs.
This probably is not news to most, but energy-efficient bulbs like LEDs use 90% less power than incandescent bulbs. We strongly suggest switching out the bulbs in the light fixtures you use most often, like ones in the bathroom, kitchen, and living room. When buying LED light bulbs, just look for the green “energy saving” sticker.
Dimmer switches are the bright idea.
Sometimes it really is as easy as just turning the lights down. By installing dimmer switches, you can control the brightness of your lights, so you’re not using more electricity than you need.
Get a free energy audit.
What if you have done everything you can think of to save electricity, but your bill is still pretty high? We suggest getting an energy audit. Many utility companies, including Ameren Illinois, offer their customers a free home energy audit. An energy audit will show you what consumes the most energy and where you should focus your attention for improvements. If your utility company doesn’t offer free home energy audits, you can easily conduct your own using Energy Star’s Home Energy Yardstick.
It may surprise some of you that water is included with your energy bill, but it’s really only your hot water that matters. We use more hot water more often than we realize. Every time you run a load of laundry, wash the dishes (by hand or by machine), and bathe, you are using hot water. When you think about it, it’s easy to run through a lot of hot water in just a couple days. The water portion of your energy bills can be very high, especially if you happen to have a large household. Follow these energy saving tips to decrease your water consumption.
Only run your dishwasher and washing machine with full loads.
Instead of running your machine with half a load, wait until it’s completely full to clean your dishes or wash your laundry. This may seem small, but it will definitely make a big difference for your bills!
While we’re on the topic of washing dishes, there’s an easy way to conserve water here too. If you have two basins in your sink, you can fill up one side of the sink with warm, soapy water, instead of leaving the faucet running the whole time. Once all dishes have been washed, then you can rinse them all off on the other side of the sink.
Cut the showers short.
Having a hot shower can be so comforting to some people that they stay in there longer than they need to get clean. We know it’s easy to get lost in your thoughts while taking a hot shower, but the more time you stand under the hot water, the higher your bill will be. Just cutting your shower time down by a couple minutes can reduce your hot water usage by almost 5 gallons.
Lower your water heater’s temperature.
If it isn’t already, lower your water heater’s temperature to 120 degrees. This is enough to save up to 5% on your energy bill without showering in cold water. We also suggest to put the water heater on its lowest setting if you aren’t going to be in the house for a few days.
Other Ways to Cut Your Energy Bill Down
We have only shared a small fraction of the many ways to reduce your energy bill costs, but we still have a few more that you might not have thought of.
Power strips are your superpower.
We know that most of you have probably gotten good at remembering to turn off electronics and lights when they’re not in use, but even when turned off, some electronics still use several watts of power. If unplugging everything feels like a huge hassle, we suggest using powerstrips. Using a powerstrip to plug in your TV, DVD player, and stereo makes it easier to power everything down using the handy ‘on-off’ button on a powerstrip.
Clean all filters and vents.
Aside from regularly changing the air filters in your HVAC system, you can also clean the filters in some appliances. Check underneath your fridge where the grated vent is. If there is a lot of lint and dust blocking air movement, you could be wasting a lot of energy by making your fridge work harder. Once you have done that, think of every vent or air filter that is in your home and keep them clean. Anything that needs air flow to work efficiently could be a major source of energy drainage.
Put your curtains to work.
Opening them up that is. This may seem extremely simple, but by opening your curtains or blinds on sunny days, you can save on electricity and heating. The sunlight can really warm up a room. Closed curtains, especially thermal curtains, can also help keep heat inside. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, using curtains can reduce heat loss to roughly 20%.
Thermal curtains are made up of different layers of fabric that each plays its own part to insulate a room. Most of these types of curtains have three layers: the decorative layer, foam core, and a vapor barrier. Just remember to keep those curtains open during the day and close them when at dusk to see a difference on your bill.
Energy Saving Tips to Lower Your Energy Bill
We all know how overwhelming budgeting and paying bills can be. It sometimes feels like you have no control, but now you do. With our energy saving tips, you can create a plan to start reducing your energy bill without completely remodeling your home or even buying new smart home devices. By dividing your energy bill up into water, electricity, and heating and cooling, you can pinpoint which is eating up most of your energy and make the most effective changes. Even if you only do a couple of things off this list, we are sure you will see a huge difference on your energy bill.