15 Cool Ways to Save on Electricity

energyLast year, the average household spent about $2,150 on energy bills.  While that’s a lot of money, just a few small steps can save you 5-10% annually on your energy bills. Ten percent of $2,150 is not a life-changer, but it is a life-enhancer and it’s very easy money.  We have a number of  ideas below to help you save at least that amount on your next electricity bill, and the more tips you can implement, the more you can save.

With the summer wrapping up, here’s a list of 15 excellent energy saving ideas that you should be able to implement in the matter of a few minutes.  If you’ve got a good one that we’ve failed to mention, make sure you leave us a comment!

1. In colder months, keep the heat at 68 degrees or cooler with the fan switch set to “auto.” Save even more by lowering your thermostat to 65 degrees (or cooler) at bedtime or when you’re away from home.

2. Build your own solar panel. It’s actually easier and cheaper than you may think. For a step-by-step guide, click here.

3. Install a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature automatically. It also helps to maintain a comfortable temperature when you wake up or return home.

4. Clean or replace your air conditioner’s filter every month to trim your cooling costs and help your unit run more efficiently.

5. Turn off your ceiling fan when you leave the room. A fan that runs constantly can cost up to $7 a month depending on size and age.

6. Avoid pre-rinsing dishes before putting in the dishwasher. It can save up to $70 a year.

7. Limit the time you run your pool pump to no more than four to six hours a day.

8. Adjust the water level on your washing machine to match the load size, especially when using hot water. Always use a cold rinse.

9. Clean the lint filter in your dryer before every load to dry clothes faster.

10. In warmer months, cool your home at 78 degrees or warmer with the thermostat fan switch on “auto.” For additional savings, raise your thermostat to 82 degrees or warmer when you’re away from home.

11. Put a dry towel in the dryer with wet clothes to absorb dampness and hasten dry time.

12. If your fireplace isn’t airtight, think twice about using it as it can draw a lot of warm air out of the house.

13. Check to ensure that furniture isn’t blocking ducts or fans

14. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact, fluorescent ones.

15. Vacuum refrigerator coils every three months.

Please note: The above suggestions do not include the “spend money to save money” solutions, like replacing windows or trading in old appliances for newer, Energy Star rated ones. These are unequivocally excellent ways to reduce both energy consumption and cost, but the upfront outlay puts them in a different category.

Air conditioners and washers and dryers are not solely responsible for your electricity costs.  Other appliances like microwaves, toasters, TV’s, blenders and hundreds of other everyday household appliances also consume significant amounts of electricity and leaving them plugged in when you’re not using them is not a smart idea.  GreenLivingTips.com (and others) refer to items that are plugged in when not in use as stand-by electricity, or phantom power.  Phantom power is responsible for an incredible amount of electricity consumption nationally.  Practically every electronic device that you plug into a socket continues to consume electricity after you’ve switched the device off.  If an appliance or device has an adapter, the easiest way to tell if it’s still drawing power when the device is switched off is if the adapter is warm.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy uses the term “leaking electricity” and cites TVs, VCRs, answering machines, cordless phones, portable power tools and office equipment as the worst offenders. They contend that leaking electricity accounts for nearly 5 percent of total residential electrical use and on average, $100+ annually is wasted on phantom power.  The list of most-common electronics that can drain electricity even when not in use are:

Electricity Table

Now granted, some of the things in the table above would be pretty tough to unplug and replug in every time you use them, but try you’re hardest to take care of the easy ones.  No one is expecting you to unplug the copier at work when you’re finished using it, but leaving the cell phone charger plugged in is an easy fix.  Using smart strips, which are new and improved surge-protectors, will allow you to avoid leaking electricity, as the smart strip is designed to switch off your devices automatically when they are not in use.

So depending on what kind of climate you live in, you may be able to implement all the above changes, or just a few.  But no matter how much you spend on energy bills every year, you always have the opportunity to spend less with a little hard work and clever thinking and if you’re the type of person that doesn’t just want to save money on electricity, check out our money saving tips page, where you’ll find hundreds of other great money saving ideas.

Bonus Tip: To check out 1 “trick” to cut your electric bill by 75%, click here.

Published or Updated: September 15, 2011

Comments

  1. thegargoyleguy says:

    I have taken to using a timer on my entertainment center, chiefly the TV and cable box. Those items are only powered on when someone is home and might want to use it, that is 4am to 8am and 4pm to 10pm.
    Now i am wondering if during these on and off twice a day might be shortening the life ot the TV, etc.Any one with thoughts on this?

  2. Rob says:

    Always take note of the energy efficiency ration when buying appliances such as airconditioners and refrigerators. This is a real deal-breaker when it comes to power consumption.

    Also, replace aircons when they do not cool down a room as fast as it once did.

  3. Chris@ says:

    I’d never thought of #11, but it sounds like a good idea. We have some pretty large south facing windows. I bought a few yards of solar screening off of Ebay for a really good price. Then I built some thin wooden frames and mounted the screening on them. The solar screening blocks 90% of UV radiation (heat from the sun). As best as I can tell, it keeps our house about 10 degrees cooler in the summer. And, of course, saves on air conditioning.

  4. kt says:

    one should also use the sun to dry clothes when the weather allows it. i am not so sure as to how much one will save but i think that it is a lot. nice pointers here, got me thinking.

  5. For me, it’s not just about our own savings when it comes to doing these things. It’s about saving the environment. That’s the real cost of wasted electricity.

    The world is currently unsustainable in its development, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see drastic changes in the works.

  6. Great tips.. didn’t know about number 11:

    11. Put a dry towel in the dryer with wet clothes to absorb dampness and hasten dry time.

    That’s a great idea! And it makes sense!

  7. Laura says:

    Guys, I save about a third on my utilities in the summer by watching WHEN I operate my A/C. What most folks don’t realize is that electrical rates change during the course of a day. And it’s not just a little, it’s a lot: here in the Washington DC area, rates per kilowatt hour range from a low of 4-6 cents per hour overnight to 75 cents or more, sometimes over a dollar, during the hottest part of the day. I set my AC at 68 overnight and run it hard while the rates are low. Depending how hot the day is, I run it until noon or even as late as two then TURN IT OFF. The house holds its temp well enough to get through the evening. It’ll be a little stuffy by bedtime, but then you can turn it back on and be cool as a cucumber over night. Note: on really hot days (like most of this summer), rates do not drop back until 11 pm. Don’t try to cool the house with top-dollar rates; stick it out and your patience will be rewarded when you see you bill! PS- only run your washer/dryer & dishwasher early or late also.

  8. Laura says:

    Here’s some back ground on the above post: formerly our utility co., Pepco, ran a website breaking utility rates down hour-by-hour. Sadly, they’ve taken it down. What I discovered, aside from the shocking differential in lowest-to-highest rates, is that rates ramp up slowly through the morning hours and early afternoon, then go ballistic mid-afternoon and remain high all through the evening hours. On a comparatively mild day, the rates will drop back to baseline by ten pm, but on a super-hot day, it’s eleven before I dare turn the AC back on. I’d rather run it later in the afternoon, right up to peak electric, than turn it on too soon. I do not understand how these rates are applied. I don’t have some sort of “smart meter,” but the proof was in my lower-significantly utility bills. Pepco would like us to install meters that allow them to turn the AC off remotely when they go to peak electric, but I don’t fancy giving up control of house to them, even for the rebate “bounty” they’re offering folks to sign up. Bottom line, it works. Forget the open-the-windows and steam overnight routine, that just leaves you running the AC at the most expensive times of day.

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