The Frugals Ultimate Guide to Saving on Electricity Bills
If any of you are like me there’s nothing worse than bills with variable costs. You have your monthly budget set and then poof out of nowhere you have an outrageous electricity bill and you can forget about that special family outing you had planned. The Department of Energy reports average U.S. household electricity use is 13 times greater than it was in 1950. It’s bills like these you can never quite figure out because just when you think you do it’s already changed again from really high, to really low, to somewhere in between. While getting your bill down to exact science may never happen, there are ways to cut costs. Check out this guide below to learn the best ways to cut energy costs.
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Cover Food & Drinks in the Refrigerator
Putting uncovered food or drinks in the fridge costs you more money because condensation makes the fridge work harder, which uses more energy. While it might not sound like much, taking a few extra steps to cover your food and drinks will add up over time.
Turn off Automatic Ice Maker’s
Most refrigerators have an automatic ice maker. While we love the convenience of ice whenever we want, the EPA reports they increase a refrigerator’s energy usage by 14-50% depending the model. To save money, turn off your ice makers and be old school by using ice cube trays instead.
Clear the Top of Your Fridge
Make sure the top of your fridge is totally clear. When you place things on top of the refrigerator it blocks heat from escaping and causes your fridge to work overtime to keep things cool. This not only increases your electricity bill, but can lower the lifespan of your refrigerator.
Don’t Put Hot Food or Drinks in the Refrigerator
Let hot food or drinks cool down before you put them in the refrigerator. When you use the fridge to cool down hot food or drinks it increases its interior temperature which causes it to work harder, which uses more energy. Once again while this might not sound like much, all the little things really add up over time!
Invest in an ENERGY STAR Refrigerator
Typically the refrigerator is the largest energy consuming kitchen appliance. One of the best ways to cut costs is to invest in an ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator that is required to use 15% less energy than regular models. The EPA estimates that investing in one of these models would save enough energy to light an average U.S. household for up to four months or according to ENERGY STAR save you anywhere from $200-$1,100 on energy costs over its lifetime.
Use the Dishwasher
Contrary to popular belief, hand washing your dishes is more expensive than using your dishwasher because you use more water. To maximize efficiency and costs use your dishwasher, but make sure to only use it when it’s full because regardless if you run a full or partial load it uses the same amount of water.
Scrape Your Dishes
Let the dishwasher do the work. Instead of pre-rinsing your dirty dishes, just scrape them. This not only saves you time but water. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, if you pre-rinse your dishes before loading them into the dishwasher you could use up to 20 gallons of unnecessary extra water.
Invest in an ENERGY STAR Dishwasher
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, using an ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher will save you on average 5,000 gallons of water and 230 hours of time per year. To put it in perspective ENERGY STAR machines use 4 gallons of water per cycle, while other average machines will use up to 6 gallons a cycle.
Wear Clothes a Few Times
A lot of our clothes don’t get very dirty from wearing them once. Try to wear clothes several times before washing them. This not only cuts down on your water usage but also your laundry and that almost sounds too good to be true!
Dry Your Clothes with a Tennis Ball
Use 1 or even 2 tennis balls when drying your clothes. They help speed drying time, which means you use less energy and save money. They also are great in helping reduce static and more cost effective than dryer sheets in that they are reusable!
Hang Your Laundry Up to Dry
If you really are looking to cut back, take advantage of the beautiful sunshine and wind to dry your clothes outside on a clothes line. You could even try switching off every week with your dryer to cut back on energy usage. When there is bad weather, just hang clothes inside on drying racks instead to continue to save!
Wash Clothes with Cold Water
90% of the energy consumed by your washing machine is used to heat the water. You can save a lot of energy just by washing your clothes in cold water. By switching to cold water washes for one year you will save enough electricity to power an average home for two weeks. Cold-water washing also keeps colors bright, reduces wrinkling and won’t set stains.
Take a Shower
On average it takes 35 gallons of water to fill up a bathtub. In order to save money take a shower instead that uses dramatically less water. The less water you use the less work your water heater has to do replacing it. Since water heaters account for 30% of your households energy bill reducing its work shift is a great place to start saving. If you really need to cut back try taking quick 5 minute showers that can save almost 23 gallons of water every time you bathe!
Low Flow Shower-heads
Recent AAA-rated showerheads have succeeded greatly with attempts to reduce water loss. Switch your showerhead to a low flow model for significant energy savings. A AAA-rated showerhead can save up to $1000 on annual water and electricity bills. If that wasn’t enough it can also save your household’s gas emissions by 10 tonnes in its 10 year lifetime. Look for an energy smart showerhead with a AAA-rated logo; they can be purchased for around $30. This is a fantastic way to save money, lower your carbon footprint, and enjoy high-class satisfying showers.
Use Faucets Sparingly
According to the EPA faucet usage represents more than 15% of indoor household water use, accounting for over 1 trillion gallons of water used by the United States every year. To save money, turn off the water when you brush your teeth or shave. Also, make sure to not put off fixing leaky faucets. Don’t let those minor leaks fool you; gallons of water can be wasted daily if not addressed immediately.
Eliminate Phantom Loads
Most people don’t know that 75% of the energy consumed by household electronics is used when they are turned off. Often referred to as “phantom users” they include things like: TV’s, computers, some kitchen appliances, and mostly anything that holds a time. A typical media setup containing a sound system, Blu-ray player, DVR, Plasma TV, & game console costs $165 annually while turned off. The easiest way to fix this is to plug items into a power strip and get into the habit of turning it off when you are finished. A more convenient way of busting phantom users is to purchase a programmable power strip. These power strips can be set to turn off automatically during late night hours or while you are away at work. A good choice is the Titan Controls Apollo that you can purchase online for $25.75. This will eliminate unnecessary energy usage and save you big on your electricity bill.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
If your thermostat is too old to program then it’s time to upgrade. A/C accounts for over 70% of our electricity usage on summer afternoons. Programming your thermostat to allow higher daytime temperatures while you’re away at work can cut the average household electric bill by $180 or 20%. Set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you are home and 85 degrees or off when you are away. You will save 3% percent per degree for each degree the thermostat is set above 72 degrees. Use a ceiling or room fan to allow you to set the thermostat higher because the air movement will cool the room. Ceiling fans cost only 2-3 cents an hour, a huge opportunity to save compared to A/C units which average 50 cents an hour. In the winter turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you’ll save up to 5 percent on heating costs. For a stylish, programmable thermostat we reccomend the Nest created by a former designer for Apple.
Use the Right Light Bulbs
Electric lighting accounts for an average of 25% of your electricity bill, so it’s one of the best places to start saving dough. Replacing your top 5 frequently used light bulbs with energy star compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) can save more than $65 a year in energy costs. CFL’s provide high-quality light output, use 75% less energy, and last 6–10 times longer than standard incandescent light bulbs, saving money on energy bills and replacement costs. Remember to always turn off your lights when leaving a room. Turning off just one 60-watt incandescent bulb that would otherwise burn eight hours a day can save about $15 per year! The electricity used by 1 incandescent light bulb through its lifetime will cost you 5 to 10 times the purchase price of a CFL.
Use Your Water Heater Correctly
Heating water accounts for approximately 30 percent of a home’s energy use. High efficiency energy star water heaters use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard models, saving homeowners money on their utility bills. Turn down the temperature on the tank to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Install an electronic timer switch to program a daily or weekly water heating schedule. This will make sure you are only heating water when you need it. A timer can save you $25 per year. You are losing electricity every minute your water heater runs and the heat escapes the tank. Luckily this can be fixed very easily by wrapping your water heater in an insulated blanket. Cut and fit the top of the blanket around the water pipes and electrical connections using a utility knife. Secure the top of the blanket to the water heater with duct tape and wrap the blanket around the tank.
Use Clean Air Filters
When your air conditioner has a dirty filter you can bet its working overtime just to do its job. Replacing or cleaning your air filters once a month can save up to 5% on your electricity bill. This also reduces the amount of dust and dirt in the air, which improves the quality of the air you breathe while keeping your house cleaner.
Seal Windows and Doors
Your air conditioners cold and hot air is always looking for a way to escape. During the peak of winter seal off unused rooms by closing the air vents, keeping the doors closed and using blankets or towels to seal the crack at the bottom. Open south facing window curtains, drapes, or blinds during the day to generate natural heat. Weather-strip and caulk windows and exterior doors to prevent air leaks. A one-eight-inch gap around a door is equivalent to a 6-inch-square hold in the side of your house. Ouch. According to Consumer Reports, sealing leaks can reduce energy costs by 15 to 30%.
Fireplaces Are Not Heaters
Despite what you think, using a traditional fireplace is a big no-no. A fireplace sucks heated air out of your home to fuel the fire and exhausts it through the chimney, and then your furnace has to turn on to replace the lost warm air. Close the damper and seal the opening shut when not in use to prevent losing air.
This is designed to give an idea of the costs of electricity for various daily things we do in our homes. This calculator assumes averages for various appliances. The cost per KWH default is the national U.S. average cost of $0.1099 per KWH as of 2012. We have collected national average values of energy use to find out how much you are paying to operate the different devices in your home. U.S. Energy information Administration
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