How to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half
“A penny saved is a penny earned!”
Saving money can be difficult when you set a goal to have a certain amount by a specific deadline. However, small savings over time add up easier than you may think. For example, if you save a quarter each day for a year, that becomes nearly $100 by December 31st. If you set aside just one dollar every day for a year, you’ll have saved $365! The same concept can be applied to saving money on your electric bill. Making small changes over time to decrease overall electricity usage will ultimately save you money - and depending on your current usage, those savings can be quite significant.
What Is the Average Cost of an Electricity Bill?
Depending on where you live, there could be notable differences in what you’re paying for your utility bill. For instance, residents in the state of New Jersey pay an average of 20% more on electricity than the rest of the country, whereas Pennsylvanians spend about 10% more than the national average, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s data from June 2018. Based on their data from 2016, households in the Mid-Atlantic region spent just over $100 a month on their electricity bill, which adds up to around $1200 a year.
Electricity costs, like homeowners insurance costs, are dependent on a number of factors such as house size, age, and location. Number of electronics or appliances and usage habits also impact the amount of your utility bill. For example, a one bedroom apartment with few electronics is not going to have the same electricity costs as a 5 bedroom home decked out with all of the latest gadgets. Similarly sized houses will also have varied electricity costs depending on age, as newer homes are typically built with efficiency in mind.
Cut Your Electric Bill in Half
In each room of your house, there are small changes that can be made in order to incrementally decrease your electricity usage, which will result in a lower electricity bill. These room by room adjustments will help you save money on your electric bill.
One of the most common causes of energy waste, no matter where you are in the house, is a concept known as “phantom drain.” This term applies to appliances and electronics that continue to use energy even when they are not powered on. In the living room, this is typically the TV, gaming systems, stereo system, and chargers. If these electronics are all plugged into one power strip, there is a simple solution to help reduce energy consumption: when the devices are not in use, switch the power strip off! Although this adds an extra step when you want to enjoy your favorite TV show at night, letting these appliances drain energy all day is contributing to higher electricity costs.
Another simple change to implement is to replace inefficient light bulbs. Old incandescent bulbs, while the cheapest option up front, ultimately cost more money in the long term due to the frequency with which they need to be changed and the difference in energy use compared to more energy efficient bulbs. Although LED bulbs may be slightly more expensive to purchase, they are worth the additional money. LEDs last multiple years whereas incandescent bulbs may last a few months to a year at most. They also require less electricity to light and therefore decrease consumption.
While we would not recommend immediately replacing all of your kitchen appliances at once just to save some money on your electricity bill, it would be wise to keep Energy Star appliances in mind when you’re due for a new fridge or dishwasher. Appliances with the Energy Star emblem are rated by the Environmental Protection Agency as being more energy efficient. Compared to older appliances, Energy Star rated ones use less water and electricity to help you save money on your electric bill.
If you are not capable of buying new appliances, there are ways for you to use less electricity within your current kitchen. Having a full refrigerator and freezer helps decrease energy consumption, as the products in the fridge act as insulation to help maintain a cool internal temperature. Next, your dishwasher uses the same amount of water each time it runs, so be sure to only run it when it is completely full. Your dishwasher’s manual may also provide suggestions on how to load the dishes to further increase efficiency by utilizing the space more effectively. Lastly, since your refrigerator is one of the only appliances that cannot be powered off, you should at least work to keep it running at peak efficiency. By cleaning the coils under your refrigerator regularly, you can help contribute to decreased energy usage and increased performance.
If you have a traditional water heater, you can make several modifications to help minimize your electricity costs. First, lowering the temperature of your water heater can result in significant savings. The default temperature on your water heater is probably 140°, but most households can safely set it to 120° and start saving money. Energy.gov can help guide you on the best way to adjust the temperature on your water heater. To further increase the efficiency of your water heater, try adding an insulation wrap. Just like a winter coat, it helps keep the warmth inside, decreasing the amount of energy needed to maintain the desired temperature.
The average showerhead uses 5-8 gallons of water per minute. For a ten minute shower, that could be over 50 gallons of water, all using energy to keep the water hot. By purchasing a low flow showerhead, which typically uses around 2.5 gallons of water per minute, the amount of water used can be cut in half, significantly reducing the amount of electricity used to heat up the water.
While these tips will all eventually work towards cutting your electricity costs down, there are also more substantial changes to be made that will make a noticeable difference in your utility bill. If it’s in your budget, these additions to your home may be worth it to save more money on your electricity bill while also contributing to conserving energy usage.
Making small changes all over your house can aid in a lower bill, but it could take some time for significant savings to be detectable. If you would rather make one specific change that can lead to lower electricity costs, you may want to consider installing new insulation. In many cases, heaters and air conditioners are kept at full power to accommodate rooms that may be significantly warmer or colder than the rest of the house. Insulation can help offset this issue by keeping the cold/warm air in the rooms that are most likely to be used. In older homes, windows are a common source of leaked heating and air conditioning. If it’s in your budget, installing brand new windows can help combat this issue because they are better insulated than older windows.
Another option to help regulate the temperature in your home is to plant trees or shrubs that offer shade to the sunny side of your house. By naturally keeping your house out of the sun, your air conditioning unit will not have to work as hard to maintain an optimal temperature. Conversely, in the winter months, leaving the blinds or drapes open to let in natural sunlight can help keep your home warm without having to crank the heat up.
Although some of these changes will not result in an overnight decrease in your utility bill, perseverance will lower costs over time. As Neil and Kalie of Pretend to Be Poor explain, the only real way of being able to see the fruits of your labor is to track your usage and costs. They’ve created a tool to help you do so as well. Once you’ve implemented these cost-effective methods of reducing electricity usage, you can celebrate with all of the money you’ve saved!