As autumn turns to winter, temperatures may drop, but electric bills are sure to rise. Many people pay their highest utility bills during the winter months. Still, many consumers just don’t know where to start or how to reduce their gas and electricity usage without spending a bundle on home improvements. Fortunately, there are a variety of lifestyle changes you can make that will save energy and, thus, money.
Unplug Vampire Electronics
These vampires may not suck your life’s blood, but they can be a drain on your bank account. Televisions, computers and cable or satellite receivers—as well as other electronic gadgets—utilize energy whether they are in use or not. According to the EPA, more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity are used in the U.S. each year by idle electronic gadgets. That costs consumers an extra $10 billion for energy annually. But by unplugging electronics while they are not in use, you can avoid them sucking electricity. Sure it may not be as convenient to flip on the tube, but you’ll be thankful for the extra step when your electric bill starts to drop. In fact, up to 75 percent of a home’s power usage is derived from phantom loads.
Use Power in Non-Peak Hours
Some electric companies set certain hours as “peak” usage times, and they charge more for kilowatt hours during such hours. Contact your utility company and find out what their “non-peak” hours are. By doing laundry, showering and cooking during these non-peak times, you’ll be sure to see lower bills.
Buy Energy Star Appliances
You can save as much as $600 a year by utilizing Energy Star appliances. Not only do they require less energy to operate, but some utility companies will even offer rebates on their purchase. Some even offer rebates to consumers for actions as simple as purchasing fluorescent or LED light bulbs.
Use Cooler Water
According to the EPA, a hot water heat set at 140 degrees can use as much as $460 more in electricity costs annually than if set at 120 degrees. Not only will lowering the temperature save you money, but it will save you from jumping into a potentially scalding hot shower first thing in the morning.
When your furnace constantly runs on a low heat can be thoroughly more economical than switching it off and on for big blasts of heat. Take some time to fully understand the various settings on your thermostat. The knowledge can really pay off.
Keep it Cold
It’s a lot cheaper to invest in an extra blanket, robe and a pair of slippers than it is to heat many homes to what residents feel comfortable. Snuggle up and keep the thermostat down, ideally 68 degrees or below.
Keep the Refrigerator Stocked
Did you know that empty space in your fridge or freezer causes the appliances to use more energy? Keeping them full allows them more easily stay cold and, therefore, use less energy.
Baking several meals at a time allows you to turn on the oven less often. You can take even more advantage of the oven by leaving the door open after cooking, allowing the heat to escape into your home and warm it up.
Wash on Cold
As much as 90 percent of a washing machine’s energy expenditure is spent heating the water, so washing your clothes in cold water can save significant amounts of energy and money.
Allow your laundry to air dry instead of tumbling it in the dryer. Not only will you save energy, but your clothes will smell wonderful.
Opening your curtains on sunny days will allow the sun’s warmth into your home. Likewise, keeping curtains drawn when it’s dark or cold outside will help keep the heat in.
Change the Filter
Your furnace will be dramatically more efficient when its filter is clean. Check the furnace filter once a month during heating season, and make sure to change or clean it when it’s dirty.
Change the Bulbs
Believe it or not, lighting your home accounts for as much as 20 percent of its electrical use. Change your traditional incandescent bulbs to more energy-efficient options, including fluorescent and LED. You’ll not only save energy, but the bulbs will last months or years longer.
In what ways do you cut down on your winter electric bills?