Last 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:
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.