As summer temps start heating up, consumers don’t just need to brace for hotter weather — they need to watch out for higher energy costs, too. In fact, the Energy Information Administration says electricity bills are expected to rise another 2% this season from just one year ago.
Considering electricity rates were already pricier as a result of inflation and other environmental factors, this additional increase adds even more strain to US household budgets.
Although energy prices are up and are expected to continue rising, your bill isn’t completely doomed. Implementing a few smart energy tricks can help you reduce your electricity use and overall costs. Here are seven efficient ways to save money on your electric bill.
1. Run a Home Energy Audit
While you can do several things to lower your electricity bill, the first place you should focus on is your HVAC system. Heating and cooling accounts for more than half of a US household’s energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy and Information Administration, so you need to ensure your system works efficiently to reduce energy use and costs.
Things like leaky ducts, dirty filters, and broken window and door seals are common household issues that contribute to wasted energy and money, so schedule a professional servicing of your air conditioning unit.
Other small things you can do to ensure your system works efficiently include closing window coverings during the day to keep the sun from heating up your home and shutting vents and doors to little-used rooms to avoid wasting energy cooling those spaces.
2. Adjust Your Thermostat by 1 Degree
A single degree may not seem like it would make a huge impact on your energy bill, but a study by the University of Georgia says a 1-degree change in your temperature setting can impact your energy use and costs by 3%.
Therefore, adjusting your thermostat just 1 degree up from your regular setting can offer savings without sacrificing your overall comfort.
What’s more, a programmable thermostat is a great tool to help control temps based on your schedule so you don’t waste energy when you’re away from home. According to The Nest website, using one of their smart thermostats can provide up to 15% savings on cooling costs.
3. Slay Energy Vampires
Household electronics, appliances, and even small personal gadgets like mobile chargers continue sucking energy even in off mode when they remain plugged into an outlet. Such energy vampires can account for up to 20% of your residential energy use, adding an unnecessary cost to your monthly bill.
The fastest way to put an end to this unnecessary energy consumption is to unplug each device. Since this can become a tedious task to tackle every day, consider using a power strip that allows you to cut off energy consumption to multiple devices at once with the flip of a switch.
Wifi-enabled smart plugs you control from your mobile device can also make it easy to shut off energy use for those hard-to-reach plugs, such as behind an entertainment system or in your home office.
Not sure which devices consume the most energy? Use this energy vampire calculator to see how much energy each home gadget uses so you can figure out which to unplug.
4. Turn the Water Heater Down
Most people don’t think about how hot water impacts their overall energy bill, but it accounts for approximately 20% of the cost. If you haven’t adjusted the temp on your water heater since installation, consider doing so now to lower your bill.
Most water heaters are preset at 140ºF upon installation, but a lower setting of 120ºF is safe and comfortable while also delivering savings. In fact, the Department of Energy says you can save up to 22% on your energy use and costs by simply lowering your water heater temperature.
And remember to turn your water heater down to its lowest setting or completely off when you go on vacation to avoid wasting energy.
5. Change the Way You Do Your Chores
The way you wash and dry your clothing can have a big impact on your electricity bill. It’s worth considering money-saving laundry tips, such as washing clothes in cold water, washing only full loads, and hanging items to dry when possible, to cut costs. Otherwise, dry one load right after another to reduce warm-up and drying time, and set cycles for 40 minutes or less.
While you’re at it, consider hand-washing dishes rather than running the dishwasher.
The time you do these chores can also affect your overall energy bill. Some energy companies charge more per kilowatt hour during peak energy use, which varies by location and season. That’s why it’s best to tackle chores that require you to run major household appliances in the morning or midday.
6. Swap Out Lights
Lighting may not rank high on the list of home energy hogs, but it represents one of the easiest, fastest, and cheapest fixes. Swapping out incandescent bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs will cut your energy use and lower your bill.
As far as outdoor lighting goes, install motion sensor lights. This option uses less energy and lasts much longer, so you won’t have to replace bulbs as frequently. Solar options work great for landscape lighting and cut your energy use and bill even further.
7. Spend Time Away from Home
Think about how you can beat the heat without running up your A/C bill, such as by spending time away from the house. Visit your local library, where you can catch up on emails, read, or participate in family activities at no cost.
Head to an indoor mall and walk laps while listening to your favorite podcast or a new audiobook. And you may be able to find a local park with a water feature like a splash pad to cool off on the cheap!
When it comes to dinnertime, a cooler night will make it more pleasant to fire up the grill so you can escape the steamy kitchen and avoid oven use.
Employ Multiple Strategies For the Greatest Savings
One last thing you can do is find out whether your energy company offers notifications in the event your energy use exceeds your normal patterns. With this type of alert, you will have time to adjust your energy use to keep your bill from climbing even further.
While each of these steps alone may not produce a massive reduction in your overall energy bill, the savings they offer collectively can and may potentially offset future electricity price hikes.