Choosing a cheaper electricity supply plan from a competitive retail provider isn’t the only way to save on how much you pay for electricity. Changing a few common habits also can result in savings. Bulk up your wallet by following these 10 tips, which we’ll expand upon in this post:
- Wash with cold water: Save $214 a year
- Clean your dryer lint trap: $25 a year
- Layer your clothing: See No. 4
- Adjust your thermostat: $120 a year
- Eliminate drafts at doors and windows: Varies by home
- Turn the water heater down: $45 a year
- Switch light bulbs: $100 a year (average over a 10-year period)
- Add ceiling insulation: $125 a year
- Maintain your refrigerator: $60 a year
- Unplug electronics: $100 a year
Total annual savings: $689
The breakdown on savings
- The Cold Truth. Washing (and rinsing) your clothes mostly using cold water can save $214 a year compared with washing with hot water and rinsing with warm, according to The Christian Science Monitor.
- Give Up Spending for Lint. The laundry you just washed in cold water – don’t put it in a dryer clogged with lint. Clear the lint screen before running every load, and clean out the lint duct work at least once a year. The savings? About $25 a year, according to the Consumer Energy Center.
- And About Those Dry Clothes. Wear more of them in winter – it’s called layering – and fewer of them in summer. You won’t have to run the heat as much in winter or the AC as much in summer. Heating and cooling the house can account for about half of your home’s utility costs, the Department of Energy says.
- Ready, Set, Save: Look at your thermostat as a cash register. Set it at 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer. When you’re away from home, adjust it 7 to 10 degrees cooler or warmer and you can save 10 percent annually on your energy bill, according to the DOE.
- Lower the Blinds and Shut the Doors. No, you’re not being a hermit; you’re saving money on your energy bill. Closing the blinds will prevent your living room from heating up during the summer. (In the winter, you’ll want to open and raise the blinds to take advantage of the sun’s heat.) Why shut doors? So you’re not heating rooms you don’t use – such as a guest bedroom. Along the same lines, make sure the seals are good on doors and windows to keep warm or cool air, depending on the season, from escaping.
- Hot, Hot, Hot? No, No, No. Most people have water heaters set too high, about 140 degrees or so. That’s dangerous if you have little ones in the house, and it also wastes electricity. Turn it down to 120 degrees, and you can save about $20 a year without having to give up your toasty showers. Add a timer so you’re only heating water when you might actually use it, and you can save $25 more annually.
- See the Light. Switch from old-fashioned lightbulbs to LEDs. It will cost you upfront – LED bulbs cost about $5 apiece. But the Consumer Federation of America says you’ll save about $1,000 during a 10-year period – maybe more depending on how many bulbs in your house.
- The Ceiling Isn’t the Roof, so Insulate it. We still don’t know what “the ceiling is the roof” means, but we do know that insulating the house (and sealing air leaks) can save you up to 15 percent on your annual heating and cooling costs. That’s what the DOE tells us, anyway.
- A Really Cool Idea: Your refrigerator is an energy hog in the kitchen, but you can slim down its energy usage – and save up to $60 a year – by making sure it runs more efficiently. Brush off and/or vacuum the coils. Keep the thermostat set at between 35 and 38 degrees for the refrigerator and between 0 and 5 degrees for the freezer. Check the door seal annually – an easy test is to shut a dollar bill in the door. If you can pull it out easily, the seal isn’t tight and should be replaced.
- Death to Power Vampires. Unplug electronics – your television, computer, printer, etc. – when you’re not using them. Because they’re always using some energy, sucking money from your bank account. Inconvenient? Yes. But you’ll save up to $100 a year, according to the DOE.
See how much power you use in your household here.