Tips for Reducing Your Electric Bill



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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.

Tawra

 

For more easy and practical ways to save money and get out of debt, check out Dig out Of Debt and learn more about how to keep more of your money.

 

Comments

  1. Flor Field says

    I live in Mexico & our electric bills are for a two month period. I unplug my laptop & modem when finished my 2 hours use in the evening.
    I use energy saving light bulbs but I seldom use an overhead light or a lamp. I use a LED string of Christmas lights strung around my laptop. I use a night light in the kitchen & bathroom. I have a wind up flashlight & a rechargable LED shop light. I get up at dawn & use the night lights after dark. My last bill [for 2 months] was $8.00. That’s $4. a month. Note: I have NO TV or radio or washer or dryer. I use a laundry for $2.00 a week & line dry. Floors are tile. My water heater & kitchen stove are gas. Frugal Flor

  2. says

    I just saw something the other day on TV which made me decide I need to add to this article and that is open up your blinds and curtains to save on using lights. I never realized how many people keep everything closed up and then turn lights on all the time.

    When I lived in Idaho the sun was such I could go about 4 months out of the year without turning on one light and just using the light from my window. Now in Kansas because of where we are located I can’t do that quite as much but I still rarely turn on my lights.

    Also you have to watch because in the summer if it is hot and the light coming in from a window is making the room hot then of course you need to close it but just open the shades on the side of the house where the sun isn’t shining yet.

  3. Rachel says

    Jill,
    You are so right about the whole light thing. Every time I get ready to hit a switch I ask myself “Do I really need this on?” Mentally I’ve attached a dollar sign to them. I love having the sunlight come in through the windows. Our house faces west, so I open the blinds on the west side in the morning and then close them by 1:00pm then open the east blinds.

  4. ReadMoreMom says

    Something that has really helped our family of seven is to use a large toaster oven found at Goodwill plugged in on the deck. The oven is just barely large enough to hold a 9 x 13 pan and handles all the summer baking outside. We rarely turn on the big oven in the kitchen in the summer anymore. We still do brownies and rolls and biscuits without all the heat in the house. In spite of utility company increases, our summer bills have held steady (and even dropped slightly) for three years that we have been doing this. We also plug the crock pot in on the deck, and even that heat stays outside.
    In the winter, we use a wood stove when it is below 35 degrees in the daytime for supplemental heat to the gas furnace.

  5. Linda says

    I don’t remember the last time I used my (electric)clothes dryer. As someone else posted, I put my clothes outside in the summer to dry. In the winter, (when indoors it’s VERY dry due to my electric baseboard heaters) I put all my laundry on hangers & either hang them in the shower area or in the bedroom doorways on the trim above. By next morning, everything is ready to put away. (and already on hangers!) I added 2 tension showercurtain rods to my bath tub area which adds even more hanging space there. It nicely adds humidity…..without useing an electric humidifier. Saving even MORE. : )

  6. says

    Boy do I envy all of you.
    I live on the north shore of lake superior in Ontario and the hydro bills are driving companies out of business. So us poor normal users are spending way too much. My usual bill is about $200 a month.
    I don’t have air conditioning, and use ceiling fans since it rarely gets hot enough to use more. I have windows on all 4 sides of the house and keep them open a cat heads wide. (my cats are escape artists and they pull the screens out.
    I tried shutting down the 5 computers for a month and there was no change in the bills. So now they are plugged in all the time.
    Went to the curly energy saving bulbs since the others are being banned here but the white ones instead of yellow light are brighter so if you can get them it saves your eyes. Remember when they do burn out that they are made with mercury so take them to a recycling place so the landfill doesn’t get clogged with mercury and be careful if they break in the house.
    I use my drier and washer about 2 nights a week. If your area has smart meters or low useage times take advantage and do your high energy tasks when the useage is lower the price may be as well.
    We have bought kerosene heaters for winter and the furnace is hardly on. The fan for the furnace is electric and by not using it our winter bills are only about $50 more than in summer.
    We use the bbq year round and that saves on the hydro bill. grill meat and roast vegetables make a salad and never use the stove. It does get chilly when their is 4 feet of snow but it adds to the fun. (yes I have a strange sense of fun but it keeps life interesting) But when a blizzard is going on we use the leftovers from past bbq’s get the taste but not the cold. With just the two of us I don’t bake much so the oven is used for hams that don’t fit in the slow cooker and roasts of beef and chickens are done on my small counter top rotisserie. Most of them take 2 hours to cook so I set the timer and then forget about it since it turns itself off.
    The counter top gadgets can be big savers. I have an indoor grill used a lot in the winter for steaks and grilled pannie sandwiches and a family steamer which cooks the entire meal in less than hour if I have rice or 1/2 an hour if it is potatoes. I have an electric stove and I found that if I put potatoes on let it come to a boil then turn the stove off but leave them on the element they are cooked perfectly when I come back 20 minutes later. I was taught boil them for 14 min. so to save on electricity it takes me about 25 min. big deal. I do the same with scrambled eggs and other fast cooking things. brown the butter on high then put the eggs in turn off the stove and make the toast and the eggs are ready.
    There are lots of little ways to save a bit but if you can keep it in your pocket instead of the electric company so much the better.

  7. says

    One thing I just discovered that I am furious about.
    Hydro companies don’t always read your meter every month. One or two months they estimate and charge you the estimate.
    They are supposed to give you back the over payment but they don’t always.
    One way around this is to read your own meter and call in the numbers you get. If they don’t do this read your meter and compare your numbers to the bill.
    You might be surprised at the difference and with your numbers in hand you have a stronger case to get cash back.
    Better than writing them down take a picture and store it each month. 1 picture is worth a 1000 words. as they say.

  8. Frenchy says

    Here there are hours when the electricity is half-price. For me it is from 12h30 to 2:30p.m., then from 00h30 to 6:30a.m. I invested in a 24 H TIMER to plug in the outlet, and plug my washing machine in it. I just have to put the load in the machine, choose the program, and add detergent. The washing machine starts by itself at the right time. It was an excellent €4 investment! Once the setting is done, the timer will allow electricity to go through everyday at the same times. No need to re-set it each and every time!

  9. Frenchy says

    I also don’t own a fan or air conditioner, but one thing I do to keep cool in the summer, and especially to be able to sleep, is to use a hot-water bottle. I just reverse its wintertime use and fill it with cold water! Usually I’m hot (all the time!) when my feet are kept warm and cold when they are cold. The mere half-gal. bottle does the trick.

  10. Marilyn says

    I just turned my dryer into a heater. Our hardware store has a box that you attach to the dryer vent hose. You can then switch the direction of the warm air – either into your house or to vent it outside.

  11. Michele says

    Hi,

    I find in the summer months that there are many ways to get a good meal while not turning the oven on in your kitchen!

    1. BBQ as much as possible…great meal and no electricity used!

    2. A small counter top oven can be plugged in to your outside outlet and you can roast a chicken out on the deck…another great meal and only 110V used instead of a 220V oven!

    3. I have a medium sized pizza oven and put it outside to cook in the summer months…only 110V used instead of a 220V oven!

    4. If you have a campstove, you can boil water outside to cook pasta to make pasta salad in the summertime too! Small can of propane for the campstove is usually under $5.00 and lasts quite a while!

    All of these will save you energy and save heating up your house during the summer months.

    In the winter months, I tend to use the oven more – getting a decent meal while the oven helps to heat up the house. Kills two birds with one stone! :)

    Happy Energy Saving!

    • Sheri says

      You got it! I can use my crock pot or my electric roasting pan outside for cooking during the summer send inside for winter. It’s amazing how warm the crock pot can keep my house when I use it overnight! I put frozen meat in with a sauce on low and it’s ready by the afternoon. My heater hardly comes on. Besides that in winter I sent my thermostat at 60.

      Also around here, solar cooking works and it’s free!

      In the summer, if I’m going to use the stove top, I cook on the back so the exhaust fan takes the heat out. During the winter, I cook on the front so the heat goes to the room. A bunch of little things do add up!

      In winter I will use warm water to wash my clothes. In summer, my cold water is warmer so we don’t heat laundry water. In fact, it is possible to take a warm shower with cold water if it’s a quick shower on low volume.

  12. richard desrosiers says

    in warm weather areas painting roofs with silve coating like used on RVroofs will lower attic temp greatly, also improve life of roof.

    a simple 12 hour crank up timer in series with electric hot water heater, will save a great amount of electricity, crank up 15 minutes before you need hot water. dick

  13. Sandi P says

    The flourescent bulbs are the biggest thing I do now to save electricity. It took me a couple of months to get all the bulbs changed when I moved into this apartment last year, and the bill has never gotten up to what it was the first couple of months. I try to use the air conditioner as little as possible, but my husband insists on using it when we get home in the summer. He never even notices that once the rooms cool a bit, I switch the cool off and just leave the air conditioner fan running, recirculating the already cool air. An air conditioner repairman told me about that trick when he repaired my very first air conditioner, over 25 years ago. The air continues blowing over the still cold cooling elements, pulling more heat from the air.

  14. Paula says

    We’ve switched all the bulbs in our home to the florescent type.We were leery about breakage of the ‘corkscrew’ bulbs and mercury, so we found corkscrew bulbs inside a regular glass ‘lightbulb’…I also saw a report that even when items are turned OFF, they still draw power just by being plugged in!!…So we now unplug things after use. With powerstrips, the powerstrip itself draws power even if you turn the strip off… (we noticed a slight drop in the electric bill)…Position a fan in front of the a/c or ac vent (for central a/c) to circulate the air more efficiently that comes from the a/c…Think COOL thoughts!!!

  15. Quaint Homesteader says

    After reading these wonderful tips, I think I will invest in a Toaster Oven! Here are some other thoughts…

    Lights: If you fixture has several bulbs, such as bathrooms or under ceiling fans, loosen one or two bulbs so it doesn’t come on at all. If you don’t like how slow fluorescent bulbs are to warm up to full strength, leave in one incandescent blub and replace the rest with fluorescent.

    Water Heaters: It’s one of the most expensive appliances to run in the house. Adjust it so it’s only as hot as you really need it to be, and if you get a new one, get one with a power saving and/or “Cabin” setting. This way you can set it on “Cabin” when you are away for vacation, and it will just keep it warm enough to prevent freezing. Do as much laundry as you can on cold. Run your dishwasher on the miser and/or no dry heat settings. Also in the winter, if you are running a bath, leave the water in the tub until the water is cold. No sense letting that warmth go down the drain too. (Just be careful of little ones who might fall in!)

    Curtains: Energy Saving or Room Darkening Curtains are a wonderful thing, hang them in the summer in the sunniest windows, to keep out the heat. Often they also reduce noise too.

    Caning: If you love home canning, it’s can a much more pleasant hobby to freeze your fruits and veggies and can in the fall.

    QH

  16. jean says

    I am not allowed to hang clothes outside our condo, but I save on drying by using the spin cycle on the washer once or twice before putting clothes in the dryer. Any heat-producing device uses more energy, but the spin cycle on the washer is a low-energy feature. (For towels, sweatshirts, and cotton underwear, I spin a few extra times.)

  17. Mary Jane Hammell says

    We started an experiment this past month–handwashing the
    dishes again–no more dishwasher!

    We have a double sink–I fill one side with soapy water; the other side, I fill a dishpan with hot, clean rinse
    water and maybe a touch of chlorine bleach for sanitizing
    the load.

    We haven’t gotten our most recent electric bill to see if there is any effect–if anything, maybe it will help offset
    the days we run the room air conditioner, fan, etc…

  18. Heidi says

    we live in Alabama in a mobile home with no shade trees…so, air conditioning is almost a necessity =)

    I do have room darkening drapes(bought at going-out-of-business clearance)that we keep pulled closed for most of the day.If you don’t have them, use an extra twin sheet or piece of material, the darker in color, the better.

    We use one window air unit in the main living area and use fans to pull air into other rooms.
    At night, turn off the air and use window fans.

    Keep large cooler jug of ice water on counter so children are not in and out of frig all day.

    Hang swim clothes and towels on clothes line after using them and use them again before washing them. If used in chlorinated pool, rinse them out first. How dirty can swim clothes get?

  19. april says

    I decreased dishwasher use and baths. I only did this one month. Use dishwasher 3 times a week instead of everyday. use baths 4 times per week. shower the other days. My water bill was $3 less.

  20. Heidi says

    Great idea for cooking potatoes! I knew it worked for eggs but never thought of other food. Would surely work for most veggies, especially canned or frozen.

  21. Monika says

    Hello Tawna,
    I am a first-time reader of this website. I must say 60 degrees is a little bit too low for me. One of the greatest ways to save money is: dress appropriate (using undershirts, socks and closed shoes in the winter, light clothes and flipflops in summertime. Another great double way: start your clothes for 5 minutes in a dryer, when they are nicely warm, put them carefully on hangers. The dry wrinkle-free (saves a LOT of ironing) and in the dry Texas climate it keeps the humidity in the house at a comfortable level without having to use a humidifier.

    Yours Monika

  22. Mary Jane says

    If you own your own home, consider planting a vine-type plant to grow up over the windows or side of the house that gets the most heat/sun during the summer months. We planted hops on the south facing side of the house about 20 years ago. Hops take about three years to get established, but grow like crazy once they are. In early April (here in northern Canada) the reddish sprouts are the first thing up, even before the grass. By mid May, they are half-way up our picture window. By July they have climbed up to the peak of our two storey, hip-roofed house. The large leaves and thick vines are perennial, must have a support of some sort, and die off every Fall, just like deciduous trees. They must be cut down every Fall. My husband has a rigged system of wire and pulleys that he raises and lowers twice a year. Hops will take over, so plant them away from other gardens and dig out runaway shoots to give away every spring, or just keep the extras mowed down with a lawn mower. Our hops do well, because they need a fair amount of water, and our yard tap is just over the hops bed, and of course, water from our tin roof help keep them watered. They grow up over our south facing windows, which acts like a natural air conditioner for the house, and are beautiful. They create a green grove of vines and leaves to look out on from the inside of the house. Our hops are not only romantic and rustic looking (they helped disguise a much needed siding replacement job until we could get it done), but they are so well established now, that birds nest in them from June until we cut them down. We started with three slips from someone else.

  23. Magdalen says

    Some years ago my husband was keen on home brewing and planted hops to run up the front of the house . Our house is back to front so gets very dark in the kitchen at this time of year . I have to put the light on and the poor plants on the window sill sadly tryi to peer out. When we came back from a month in Ireland, the stuff was up over the roof and the place looked as though Sleeping Beauty lived there.:)

  24. Mary Jane says

    I use propane gas to cook on and have for years. Wouldn’t trade my propane stove for anything. But to save energy on propane or an electric stove, consider using stacking type baskets to cook over boiling water to cook more than one item at a time, on one burner. During the seventies, theses were all the rage, as Asian cooking was the big thing. The stackable baskets were made out of wood or wicker type material. A person could cook rice in the bottom of the pot and the rising steam would cook veggies and fish in two successive layers of baskets set up over the rice. Top the whole thing off with a lid. This was a common practice during the Second World War when everything was rationed. You can probably still find the stacking baskets in kitchen stores, but you could also rig up your own by using double boilers and steamer baskets over pots that you already have. Keep your eyes open at yard sales. I found an awesome rig from a thrift store, that consists of a long thin pot, with a slightly raised platform support for the inside bottom. Then, three stacking baskets nestle inside the pot, and finally a tight fitting lid for the top. From the colour of the pot, I would say it is circa 1970. I often put an inch of water in the bottom, then potatoes in the first basket, then two other frozen veggies in each of the next two baskets, and cook it all on one burner for supper. Great for camping, too. When I do cook an oven meal, I make sure that all the components for the meal are cooked in the oven, too. A roast may have potatoes and carrots added to it, but then I add a baked dessert, since the oven is on anyway. Rice and frozen vegetables will cook up nicely in an oven, if you use ovenproof dishes. These are my favourite meals, as there is no babysitting any cooking on top of the stove.

    • says

      I also add something like cornbread, rolls, or muffins when I am baking a full meal in the oven like this. I usually have extra of the muffins (or cornbread muffins) that I can freeze and pop out to use for the times I am not using my oven.

  25. Janet says

    It’s amazing how much “phantom” energy is used by leaving unused items plugged in constantly. I usually unplug those items (tvs, coffee pots, surge protectors, etc), before retiring in the evening (a minor inconvenience), but the savings really add up!
    Plus, there’s the benefit of exercising (bending over and plugging/unplugging)…kind of helps to whittle the waist! :)

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