Tips for Reducing Electric Bills
Lisa writes: Hello ladies,
I was wondering if you have any wise tips on reducing our utility bills? Our utility company just raised their rates, and we received a $300.+ electric bill this month.
Tawra: Hi Lisa! Here are few tips that we use:
Keep your thermostat at 78-82 in the summer and 60-65 in the winter. For most people, this is the other way around. If you currently keep it much lower than this, try changing it over a couple months so you can get used to it.
Move down to the coolest part or up to the warmest part of the house. In the summer move all your beds and/or the TV down to the basement. In the winter your upstairs room maybe the warmest so move up there. Don’t move everything twice a year. We have a bi-level house and immediately after moving in, we realized that even though a bi-level has bedrooms on both floors, it works better for us to live during the day all on one floor. We moved all of the sleeping arrangements downstairs, even though it meant that we used the downstairs family room for our bedroom.
In the summer, open windows in the opposite corners of the house to “draw” the air through first thing in the morning. Then close them later before the heat of the day hits.
Use fans instead of central air or even air conditioners. We don’t turn on the air conditioner unless it is more than 80° F (27° C)
- Put fans in your windows backwards to draw hot air out. If you want the cooler outside air to blow across you in one room, place the fan in a window directly across the house to suck air out. Then, the cooler air will be pulled into the window where you are.
- Use attic fans to draw hot air out too. Don’t underestimate how much an attic fan can help. Consider that a 125° attic next to a 78° house can raise the temperature, even with good attic insulation. It can literally drop your homes temperature’s several degrees.
Do things that require you to be up and moving around during the coolest part of the day (dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom).
Do the things that are less physical and more stationary in front of a fan during the hotter part of the day (washing dishes, folding clothes, paying bills).
Plan ahead for baking. In the summer when it’s hot, only bake on the cooler days, ideally when you don’t need the air conditioner and can keep the windows open. If you can plan ahead for the week, bake what you can in advance so that if a really hot day comes, you can avoid using the oven that day.
Keep an eye on your appliance operating costs.
- Sometimes, you will save money on energy use by replacing an inefficient appliance.Most of the time, it will take a while for the cost of replacing the appliance to make the energy savings worth it, so don’t replace something expensive just to save on your utilities unless you do the math. If you find that you need to replace an appliance soon, replace it now if you can save on energy costs since you will have to incur that cost anyway.
Our air conditioner costs us about $150 per month to cool our 1600 square foot house in the summer which is twice that of a friend with a similar sized house in town, but because of the high cost to replace one and the relatively few number of months we use it each year, we will probably wait another couple years to replace it.
- Test your power usage if you can. There is a company that makes a device that is like a plug adapter that you can use to test the power usage on any appliance that plugs into a wall. Test any appliances you can. I thought that our refrigerator was using a lot of power and then I discovered it was actually the lights.
- Don’t use appliances that you can avoid using. I like line dried clothes because of the fresh smell, so I try not to use the dryer much. This helps keep the cost down and also saves money because the dryer reduces clothes’ life span. For some appliances, reducing your use won’t save much. Unless you own a malt shop, go ahead and use the blender as much as you usually do.
Consider using fluorescent light bulbs if you use a lot of lights. There are lots of newer style fluorescent bulbs that don’t put out that nasty color and quality of light that we associate with older fluorescents. We replaced most of the light bulbs in our house all at once and our electric bill went down $40 right away. Where we live, our electric bill has gone from $100-$110 per month without the air conditioner down to $60-$70. Fluorescent bulbs can be expensive compared to incandescent, though and if you don’t use your lights very often, it could be more expensive to change them than the short term savings. We keep a lot of our lights on much of the day, so it was worth it for us. Also, the fluorescents tend to last a lot longer than incandescent bulbs (about 10 years). If you decide to try fluorescents, try one or two at first. They have different color and quality characteristics and you’ll want to make sure you find bulbs you like before spending the money to replace a lot of them.
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