The Cheapest Ways to Reduce Energy Usage

Apr 29, 2022 | Energy Conservation

The average household in the United States uses about 900 kilowatt-hours (KWh) of electricity every month. Depending on your rate, this equals an energy bill of about $120. Many of us look at that monthly electric bill and wonder if there are ways to save energy and keep more of our own money in our pockets every month. If that sounds like you, you’re in luck. We’ve put together some of the cheapest ways to conserve electricity and reduce your monthly electric bill.

How to Reduce Energy Usage at Home

We’ve all been told to shut off the lights and turn off the TV when not in use. Perhaps a relative has even asked you if you have stock in the power company. And you might wonder if all those habits even matter? The answer is yes. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the average household can save 25% annually — over $2,200 every year — by being more energy-efficient.

Sound good? Let’s explore some of the strategies that can get you there.

1. Turn off the lights when you don’t need them.

What better way to start the list than this old classic? The fact is that with a rate of 20 cents per KWh, for example, you’ll save a little over a penny per bulb per hour. It might not sound like a lot, but when you consider all the bulbs in your home and all the hours in a year, it adds up. Flip off the lights when you don’t need them and use natural light during the day.

2. Replace traditional bulbs with energy-efficient light bulbs.

Still, using old bulbs? Start replacing them with halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), and light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) when they burn out. Not only do newer bulbs last three to 25 times longer, but they also use 25-80% less electricity.

3. Turn off the fan if you leave the room.

Fans circulate the air; they don’t cool it. So if you’re not in the room to enjoy the air movement, it’s just wasting electricity. This goes for ceiling fans and standalone units. Make it a habit to switch off the fans when you hit the lights.

4. Pull the shades and close the drapes during the day.

Heating and cooling costs can account for as much as half of all electricity usage, so any steps you can take to make your air conditioner more efficient are going to pay off. And it turns out one of the easiest ways is to keep the blinds closed so the sunlight stays out.

5. Replace your HVAC filters regularly.

As long as we’re on the subject of making heating and cooling more efficient, let’s talk about air filters. According to the Department of Energy, replacing dirty filters regularly can drop the average household’s energy consumption by 15%. Put a note on your calendar or make it really easy by adding filters to your Amazon auto-ship.

6. Wash clothes in cold water.

Did you know that 90% of the energy involved with washing clothes is actually devoted to heating the water? Simply wash on cold, and those massive savings are yours. And with today’s high-efficiency washers and detergents, you won’t even notice a difference. You can extend the savings even further by defaulting to cold water throughout the home.

7. Unplug devices when not in use.

Have you ever heard of phantom loads or vampire electricity? That’s energy that electronic devices use even when they’re switched off. And it’s estimated it accounts for 75% of the energy devices use. That means most electric gadgets use more electricity when they’re not used than when they are. So when you power down at night and go to bed, unplug your devices and save money while you sleep.

8. Weatherize your home.

Remember how we mentioned before that heating and cooling costs can comprise half your electricity bill? If your house is drafty or has air leaks, all that money could be floating right out the window. Make it a yearly task to take a walk around the exterior of your home and seal up any leaks and gaps with caulk or expanding foam.

9. Use the microwave instead of the oven.

There’s nothing like fresh-baked, well, anything fresh out of the oven. But sometimes the microwave is fine. And the fact is that the microwave will heat food a lot faster and with a lot less electricity than the stove. So for reheating, defrosting, and other basic tasks, use the microwave instead of the stove.

10. Default your thermostat to 68 in the winter and 78 in the summer.

Sometimes we Texans have a habit of compensating for the summer heat by running the AC a little too high in the summer. If you’ve ever walked into someone’s house in August and needed a sweater, you understand. The fact is that every extra degree of cooling or heating increases electricity use by 6-8%.

11. Hang your clothes to dry.

You’ve probably noticed that heating air or water is a big electricity drain, and the clothes dryer is a perfect example. If you live in an area where you can hang your clothes to dry outside or have the space inside for a clothes drying rack, and you make a habit of using it, you can drastically reduce the electricity you use for laundry.

12. Wash a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

Sometimes it’s tempting to run the machine before it’s full, but it uses the same amount of electricity (and water) to run a full load as one that’s half-full. So be smart and wait until it’s full. And you can save a little more by running the machine at night with the drying cycle turned off, so the dishes air-dry overnight.

13. Clean the coils on the back of your refrigerator.

Once or twice a year, make it a habit to pull out the refrigerator and clean off the coils in the back. They tend to get covered with dust, and when they do, their efficiency drops considerably. Keeping them clean is one of the best ways to keep your refrigerator running smooth.

14. Don’t set the refrigerator too low.

The other way to make your refrigerator or freezer more efficient is to avoid setting it too low. Refrigerators should be set at 40 degrees, and freezers at zero. Any less, and you’re using extra electricity without any added benefit.

Upping Your Effort and Investment Can Up Your Savings

The electricity-saving tips we covered above are practical no- and low-cost measures that can make a significant impact. And if you want to go even further, there are a lot of other investments you can make that aren’t necessarily free but can add up to considerable savings in the long term.

  • Drafty old windows can increase your heating and cooling costs by 10-25%. If and when you’re in the market, upgrade to energy-efficient windows.
  • Replacing old appliances with ENERGY STAR-rated appliances can reduce electricity use by 9-25%.
  • Upgrading your HVAC system to an ENERGY STAR-rated setup can reduce heating costs by 15%. And if you make sure your home is adequately insulated, you can drop heating and cooling costs even 20% lower.
  • And if you really want to go big, installing your own solar panel system can significantly reduce your electricity bill.

Optimize Your Bill Even Further With a Fixed-Rate Plan From Energy Texas

You can take all the steps in the world to save electricity, but if your rate is too high, you’re leaving money on the table. Why not keep it in your pocket instead? Check out a fixed-rate energy plan from Energy Texas today. We can get you switched over so you can start saving money right now. Just enter your zip code and check out what’s available!

 

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