Simple Hacks for Decreasing Your Electricity Bill
Electricity is a vital part of everyday living because it provides power for kitchen appliances, lighting throughout the home and many different electronic devices. It also powers air conditioners, heating units, central air and hot water heaters. The more power is consumed, the more expensive a homeowner’s electric bill becomes. There are many ways to cut back on electricity usage, thus cutting back on electric bills. Simple steps can be taken, like turning the heat or air conditioning down by a few degrees to lower costs while still being comfortable. There are also various energy efficient products that use less power and can help to save money. Changing lighting from traditional bulbs to energy efficient lights can also effectively lower energy consumption. Performing a home energy audit or having a professional energy auditor assess the home can result in savings for a home owner by reducing energy loss. Even something as simple as cleaning air filters and vents can result in savings on the electricity bill. Review the following sections to learn about inexpensive hacks that can help to lower electricity bills.
Home Energy Audits/Assessments
A home energy audit, also called a home energy assessment, is performed by a professional service or a do-it-yourself (DIY) audit may be completed by a home’s resident. An energy audit is the first step to saving energy because it determines the home improvements that are needed. Many utility companies will perform audits for customers for free.
Professional energy assessments
Professional energy assessments tend to go into detailed examinations of all interior rooms and the entire exterior of the home. They also use numerous tools and devices that many home owners and renters do not have. Residential home energy audits can be somewhat expensive, but many utility companies or local governments in Arizona offer subsidized costs for those who qualify.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) home energy audits
A DIY home energy audit is conducted by the resident of the home without additional cost but will require that the resident be diligent when looking for issues. When conducting the energy audit, look for any lighting or appliances that may be consuming too much energy, air leaks, lack of insulation in the building and inspect heating and cooling systems.
Energy Efficient Lighting
Traditional light bulbs use only 10 percent of energy to produce light while the remaining amount is dispensed in the form of heat. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) use 80 percent less energy than traditional bulbs. Using energy efficient light bulbs reduces the amount of heat given off by the bulbs, which in turn lowers the cost of cooling the home in warmer months. Energy saver bulb purchases do cost more than regular bulbs, but will help to save money over time. Most also last far longer than traditional bulbs.
A simple hack for decreasing electricity is to turn down the temperature. If using a programmable thermostat, set the temperature to adjust according to the time of day. When planning to be home, set the thermostat to a comfortable setting. When the household is scheduled to be at school or work, set the temperature on a lower setting. At night, set the temperature back seven to 10 degrees below normal. The amount of money saved depends on how harsh the area’s climate is. When home during extreme winters, reduce heat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit while raising air conditioning temperatures to 78 degrees Fahrenheit in hot summers. For homeowners with radiant floor or steam heating, electric resistance heating or heat pumps, review the manufacturer manual to confirm whether lowering the thermostat is recommended or not.
Use window blinds or high reflectivity films on the windows in the summer to block the sun and reduce heat entering the home. In the winter, heavy draperies can help prevent heat loss through the windows by up to 10 percent. A better option is to install dual shades, which are dark on one side to absorb heat and reflective on the other side to block out heat. Dual shades may easily be reversed depending on the season.
There are many areas in homes that are susceptible to drafts, which can increase the usage of electrical heating or cooling systems. To reduce drafts, homeowners can:
- Tape clear, heavy plastic sheeting to the inside of window frames inside the house to reduce drafts coming in through the windows.
- Seal air leakages with caulking and weather-stripping wherever there are cut-throughs for plumbing. Other areas that often have gaps are frames around doors and windows, electrical outlets, phone lines, cables and around dryer vents.
- Fireplaces are notorious for heat loss. Keep dampers closed when fireplaces are not in use. If a fireplace is used fairly often, install glass doors made from tempered glass and a heat-air exchange system device to blow the heated air back into the room.
- For larger gaps by the baseboards, windows and other areas, apply foam sealant.
Check the Insulation
With the exception of homes constructed specifically for energy efficiency, most homes can benefit from additional insulation. Walls, attics or floors that are adjacent to unheated areas, such as the basement or garage, need insulation. Check these areas to find out if there is any insulation and, if there is, what type is installed. Different types of insulation give different levels of thermal protection. Mineral wool and fiberglass insulation may be installed by following instructions on the materials whereas others may require the assistance of professional installers.