For most people, the monthly electric bill accounts for a significant part of the monthly budget. In fact, the energy bill is often only surpassed by the mortgage or rent payment. It’s usually in your best interest to keep it as low as possible, conserving energy and money. Scroll past the jump to learn how to start saving.
Check to see if you can get a better contract, or make payments based on average monthly cost.
- Determine how much electricity you use. Use the monthly electric bills from the last year to calculate an approximate value.
- (If possible) Compare different offers from electrical companies; choose the one that is the cheapest (lowest cost per kilowatt hour).
- Find out if there is an OFF-PEAK time of the day when the rate is lower and use that time for most electricity needs (e.g. running washing machine, dish washer, or cooking). This will likely require additional costs for special metering hardware to track usage during those times.
Buy energy efficient devices. Don’t buy devices that are bigger than necessary (buy and use small pressure cookers whenever possible). Ask for energy efficient devices. Don’t forget to check the stand-by consumption. Check if there is a label like Energy Star.
Switch off or unplug devices when not in use.
- If a device doesn’t have an on/off switch, use a plug connector with an on/off switch. Connect, for example, your TV and the loudspeakers with a plug connector. You can switch off both devices by just one action. Connect your DVD recorder with a separate socket since it is likely that you would have to readjust it if you switch it off.
- Don’t forget that power adapters (transformers for rechargeable appliances) also consume energy. Unplug them when not in use.
Energy Consumers in the household
Refrigerator, Freezer and Fridge:
- Put each cooling device in a place which is as cold as possible, away from heat sources like radiators, direct sunlight or other big energy consuming devices.
- Check that the cooling device is at least 5cm (2 inches) away from the wall, and that the air can circulate well.
- Increase the inner temperature of the cooling devices. 7°C (45°F) are enough for the fridge and -18°C (0°F) are enough for the freezer.
- Keep the cooling devices tidy; label the items in the freezer, so that you can get to the food as quick as possible.
- Fill unused space with padding such as polystyrene or just a blanket.
- Keep the door of these devices closed.
- Check the sealing gasket of the cooling devices: Put a switched on torch (lamp) in the fridge and close the door. Check if the sealing gasket is damaged, and buy a new one if necessary.
- Act energy efficient. Let food cool down before you put it in a cooling device and warm up frozen food in the fridge.
- Defrost the freezer if there’s a layer of ice.
- Find the most effective places for lights and light switches.
- Paint your rooms in a bright color. More light is reflected by brighter walls and so you need less light to make your room bright.
- Replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. It is economical to replace a light bulb if it burns for more than half an hour a day. Use high quality L.E.D. – Light Emitting Diode (Best type) or C.F.L – compact fluorescent bulbs.
- Don’t use ceiling floodlights, unless they are L.E.D. types.
- Install and use dimmer switches at less than full brightness for incandescent lamps and other types (CFL, LED, etc.) that are specifically labeled as suitable for use with a dimmer.
- Use the right pots. Use pots with a diameter that is as small as possible. Put these pots only on hobs that fit to them or are smaller. Try to use a pressure cooker if you’re cooking for a considerable time. Check that the bottom of the pot is even. Keep the pots closed as long as possible. Without a lid you’ll loose about 2/3 of the energy.
- Reduce the amount of water you use while cooking.
- Turn the stove off 5 minutes before you reach the cooking time.
- Choose a gas stove or an induction cooker if you buy a new stove.
- Boil water with an electric kettle instead of the stove.
- Don’t preheat the oven.
- Bake with circulating air.
- Use the oven several times if it’s already hot.
- Keep the oven’s door closed as long as possible.
- If the oven has already reached the final temperature turn it off 10 minutes before the food is ready.
- Use a toaster or the microwave if possible instead of the oven.
Dishwasher and washing machine:
- Check if these devices are connected with the hot water pipe.
- Make the devices as full as possible.
- Reduce the water temperature and use energy and/or water saving modes.
Avoid the air conditioner. You need 3 times more energy per degree to cool a room than to heat a room.
- Ventilate during the night or early in the morning in order to store the coolness for the day.
- Keep the coolness in the house during the day. Close the shutters and keep your windows and doors closed.
- Use a fan instead of an air conditioner.
Avoid heating with electric energy. While electric heat is the most efficient, it is often the most costly. If you use another energy source (natural gas, propane or heating oil) you can save money on electricity.
Avoid the clothes dryer. Dry your wet clothes on a laundry line. If you are unable to follow this step because you don’t have access to a clothesline, fill the dryer reasonably full, but not so full that air cannot circulate, and use the mode “iron-dry”.
Optimize the energy consumption of your PC. Modern PCs can be set up to enter energy saving modes from both the BIOS settings page and directly from the Windows Operating system. Enable “Sleep” and “Hybrid Sleep” for desktops and “Hibernation” for notebook PCs running Windows.
Gather up as many monthly electric bills as you can. You will want to have these on hand so you can see how much you are saving.
Change your regular light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs use a lot less electricity and last a long time. They do cost more than regular bulbs so you probably don’t want to change them all at once. Your local utility may offer reduced price or even free CFLs from time to time. Check with them before purchasing. See warnings for important information on fluorescent light bulbs and their safe disposal.
If you cannot or choose not to change to fluorescent light bulbs, consider using a lower powered bulb. A 100 watt light bulb used 6 hours per day will cost in excess of $25 per year (.12 / kWh rate). If you can get by with a 40 watt light bulb, that cost will be about $10. Imagine if you did that to every light bulb in the house.
Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Use the above costs to determine how much you can save. Remember to count the total number of bulbs as many light fixtures will have 2 or more light bulbs.
Turn off all household appliances like TV’s and computers when not being used. You can easily waste hundreds of dollars a year leaving these on when not being used.
Set your thermostat wisely. Most homes have programmable thermostats and if you don’t have one, it would be well worth it to buy one. There is no reason to heat or cool your house when everybody is at work or school. Many homes are empty for 8 or more hours a day and there is no reason to have the house at the same temperature that you want it when you are home.
Seal your windows and doors. You can get a tube of caulk for a couple dollars. If you seal up all those cracks around the windows that let the outside air in, you can realize substantial savings.
If you live in a state where you are allowed to choose your electric company, you can easily save 20% just by switching energy companies.Check the resources section for more information.
Each month when your bill comes, dig out your old bills and see how much you have saved. Sometimes, you will want to compare your bill to the previous month to get a good comparison. Sometimes, you will want to compare to the same month the previous year.
Switch out your most used lights to LED bulbs. Also, dispose of CFL bulbs properly (they contain mercury). Some places take them for free to dispose of them properly.
If you are using fluorescent light bulbs, be aware that they contain mercury which is hazardous. If one happens to break, special clean up is required.