Did you know Texans pay the highest annual amount for electricity on average? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, your electric bill is costing you an average of $1,800 a year (or more). But with a few simple adjustments, you can significantly lower your monthly bill. Here are a few ways to keep your energy costs low.
1. Moderate Your Thermostat Usage
This is easy to do when you get a programmable thermostat. It’s important to lower the temperature in your house for about eight hours a day in the winter and raise it for the same amount of time in the summer. Program your thermostat to run lower or higher while you’re at work, for example, and watch your electricity bill shrink. If you can’t get a programmable thermostat, you can do this manually or just keep it at a lower temperature all the time in the winter (and pile on those blankets) or a higher temperature in the summer (and wear lighter clothing).
2. Fix Your Ducts
When your ductwork has gaps in it, heat and air escapes from them as it travels throughout your home. Make sure that isn’t happening so you can continue to heat and cool your house efficiently and save money on your electric bill. The best way to do this is to follow the ductwork with a candle while your system is running and see if it begins to flicker anywhere. If it does, you’ve likely found a leak.
3. Examine Your Refrigerator and Freezer
Your fridge and freezer offer a wealth of electricity savings if you use them correctly. First, get an energy-efficient appliance to optimize your energy usage from the get-go. Next, stock both the fridge and freezer so they’re full. The food acts as insulation, so it takes less energy and time to cool everything. You should also clean the coils on the appliance once every few months, and if you really need to save, increase the temperature inside by a degree or two—enough so that everything stays fresh but the fridge and freezer are running less often.
4. Run Your Dishwasher Efficiently
To get the most efficient use from your dishwasher, follow these rules. Run it full every time so you’re cleaning more dishes with less energy. Turn off the heated dry and leave your dishwasher open so the dishes can air-dry after they’re clean. It also helps to run your dishwasher during off-peak hours.
5. Turn Out the Lights
Can’t you just hear your dad telling you to turn off the lights when you leave a room? It’s good advice. Turning off the lights (and anything else you aren’t using) will indeed save you money. Don’t let things not currently in use drain your wallet.
6. Check Your Water Heater
Water heaters are among the top energy usage offenders. They’re always on, so you can have hot water in seconds if you need it. But most people set the temperature on their water heater too high, drawing energy that doesn’t need to be used. Turn it down by a few degrees—you probably won’t even notice the difference.
7. Embrace—and Avoid—the Sun
So you’re cold and you want to heat your home. You know the best source of free heat? The sun. Whip open those curtains on sunny days when you’re a little chilly and let the natural heat shine into your house. When the sun goes down, close the curtains to keep the heat contained inside. In the summertime when you’re too hot, try using blackout curtains to keep the sun out of your house. That way your air conditioner won’t have to work overtime.
8. Let Your Oven Multitask
It’s best to try and avoid using your oven as much as possible if you want to lower your electricity bill. But if you have to use it, use it to your benefit. Cook your food and then leave it open while it cools. The residual heat will warm up your home in winter. In summer, you can also switch your oven off a few minutes before your food is finished cooking—the heat will still be there but the energy usage won’t.
9. Seal Your Windows
Outfit your windows with weatherstripping. That will stop cold air from leaking in during the winter and hot air from coming in during the summer. It’ll also stop the air inside from leaking out, raising your electric bill even more. You’ll also want to check seals around doors, outlets, and light fixtures.
10. Clean Your HVAC System
When your heating and air conditioning systems are properly cleaned, they’ll run more efficiently and use less electricity. Schedule annual maintenance—and make sure it gets done. Ask around your neighborhood for references and get it booked. Remember that you also need to change your furnace filters regularly (check the package for the optimal cadence). If you want the best chance at avoiding extra costs, you can also install a high-efficiency HVAC system. Find one with an Energy Star rating.