How to Lower Your Energy Bill and Avoid Erratic Energy Rates
If you’re like most energy consumers, you’re always looking to save money on energy bills without sacrificing comfort. There are many factors to consider, which means many ways to save on your monthly electric bill.
Factors such as geography, the size of your home and the number of people living in your house impact your monthly usage. A family in a northern climate can expect their electric bills to rise sharply during the frigid winters, with additional spikes during mid-summer. A larger family will naturally use more energy, and the larger a house is, the more energy heating and cooling systems will use to maintain comfortable living spaces throughout the home.
No matter where you live or the size of your family, there are small steps you can take that could add up to big savings on your energy bill.
Compare rates anytime
One of the simplest steps you can take is reviewing your energy bill. Homeowners and businesses in Energy Choice states have the freedom to compare electricity and natural gas energy rates, and the right plan can help you budget better and, in some cases, save you money.
Comparing rates, choosing a new energy plan that fits your individual needs, and switching suppliers couldn’t be easier. We’ll even help guide you through the process.
If you’ve already picked the right plan and want more tips, we’ll help you there, too!
Reduce your use
While no one wants to live in a dark, cold house, there are plenty of DIY energy efficient actions you can take right now that will lower a year of utility bills. Starting with the whole home and moving into some specific rooms, here’s a complete guide on how to reduce your energy bill.
The holistic home approach
If your goal is to conserve energy, knowing how much it takes to run your home is half the battle. The majority of an average residential home’s energy costs comes from the HVAC system: air conditioning (17%), space heating (15%), water heating (14%), and lighting (11%), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
If you’re not sure how much energy you’re consuming, there’s a simple way to find out. Conduct a DIY home energy audit. Conducting a basic energy efficiency audit of your home’s enclosure and HVAC system can give you a better sense of your home’s strengths and weaknesses, which can help save you money. And there are ways you can keep these systems in check
Update your lighting
- Swap incandescent bulbs for LEDs: One of the easiest energy investments you can make is switching to LEDs. They use about 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than other lighting solutions. And that’s all year round, not just summertime.
- Use smart power strips: Normal power strips use energy whether or not plugged-in devices are running. Smart power strips stop the energy at the source, saving you from “phantom usage.”
- Install dimmer switches: A dimmer switch allows you to reduce the amount of electricity sent to a bulb, in turn reducing overall energy usage. Bonus? No painful squint when you turn on the lights in the middle of the night.
- Use occupancy sensors: Though you will likely spend more up front, occupancy sensors save energy by turning the lights on only when a person uses a room. If you have teenagers who like to leave every light on in the house, this can be a game changer.
Rethink your heating and cooling options
- Install new insulating tools: You might think that insulation is only the pink stuff between the walls, but you can prevent hot and cool air from leaking by installing door draft guards and storm doors as well.
- Explore other forms of air conditioning: Keep cool with ceiling fans in the summer. Circulating the air in a room mixes the air and produces a cool breeze that’s better than feeling chilly in cold A/C or stuck under the blanket of a hot summer day.
- Invest in a programmable or smart thermostat: There’s a common myth that if you mess with your thermostat, it will cost you. In reality, by setting your thermostat lower in the winter and higher in the summer when you’re away from home, you could save over 10% a year on heating and cooling. Or let a smart thermostat do it for you. Smart thermostats can learn your schedule – when you leave home and when you go to sleep, for example – and adjust the temperature automatically. That’s peak energy efficiency.
- Schedule yearly maintenance on your HVAC system: Your HVAC system regulates your air conditioner, so once this system gets less efficient, more energy is spent on maintaining the temperature.
Change your kitchen habits
Time is a valuable commodity for young families and new homeowners. If you only have time to target one area of your home, the kitchen provides the best opportunity because of its energy consumption. Three of the four largest appliances in an average home reside in the kitchen, making it the eye of the energy consumption storm. To save energy, adopt these kitchen energy habits:
- Slightly raise the refrigerator’s temperature: Most refrigerators are set at a temperature far lower than needed to keep your food safe to consume. Raising the setting even a degree can save money.
- Don’t pack the fridge to the brim: Refrigerators need to circulate air to keep food cold, which can be hard if there’s too much food inside. Lower your cold food storage volume, and both your monthly grocery and energy bill will thank you.
- Clean your coils: Evaporator coils expel heat from your fridge, and when they get dusty and clogged, the fridge must use more energy to function properly. Clean your fridge once a month to save energy.
- Run it at night: Spread out your energy usage by running your dishwasher at night, avoiding peak hours. Plus, appliances
that run hot can increase a room’s temperature, and can make your HVAC system work harder during the day.
- Load it up: If the dishwasher is light on dirty pots and pans, don’t run it. The energy used is the same whether the load is large or small, so wait until the machine is full before starting a cycle. But don’t overload the dishwasher. You may wind up with dishes that need a second wash – which means an extra cycle.
- Turn off heat drying: Heat drying turns water into steam to dry dishes – and that uses more energy than simple condensation drying. Heat drying increases energy consumption about 15% and only dries dishes slightly more.
Oven and stove
- Use smaller appliances: Do you own a toaster oven? How about an air fryer? Electric grill? These smaller appliances use less energy than both an oven and stove and can often cook just as well.
- Put a lid on it: As much as you want to hover over Grandma’s famous chicken noodle recipe, using a lid will speed up cooking times and save energy.
Cool your bathroom costs
Our bathroom habits are harming the environment – and most of us don’t even realize it. If we knew, we’d break our bad habits and adopt those that keep our planet green. Luckily, we can do just that – and with a nearly zero-dollar investment. The average American household uses about 300 gallons of water per day, two-thirds of which comes from the bathroom. Here are a few ways to clean up your energy bill:
- Take shorter, colder showers: If you take baths, consider showers instead. A bath uses about 5 kWh, mostly through water heating. A shower uses on average 1.4 kWh. Drop the temp and time spent showering, and you could save even more.
- Unplug hot appliances after use: Another phantom load, or vampire energy use, comes from plugged-in appliances, such as curlers and irons. Even when not in use, they’re pulling energy from the outlet.
- Use vents sparingly: Fans, often necessary to reduce bathroom mold, should run no more than 25 minutes after a shower. Anything more and you’re just wasting energy.
Clean your laundry usage
A dryer uses between 1,500 to 5,000 kWh of electricity every load, depending on your model. Those kWhs add up quickly. And the washing machines we use beforehand only add to the electric bill. To save, here are a few laundry ideas:
- Wash full loads in cold water at night: Limiting your loads and giving your water heater a break are the easiest ways to limit your washing machine’s energy use.
- Line dry: Save cash by forgoing the dryer altogether. Give line-drying a try, if you can.
- Clean the lint from your dryer exhaust: A clogged dryer exhaust is an energy drain. Regularly cleaning the lint can help you save.
Offset your home office
More and more people are working from home, which means more time in home offices and more opportunity to overuse energy. Here’s how to limit your energy use:
- Unplug your laptop while using it: Your laptop battery should work for the better part of your day, so use that stored energy. Believe it or not, leaving your laptop plugged in can drain the battery’s capacity, increasing energy usage.
- Unplug your chargers: Just like power strips, chargers cause phantom loads. The best rule of thumb is to unplug everything after your workday ends. Bonus: there’s something satisfying about this, too. Almost like you actually unplugged from any work for the rest of the day.
- Limit printer use: When used once, printers sap about 30 to 50 kWh of energy. If you use paper often, then those kWh can add up. Go paperless instead.
Pay less for energy
Shop for a Lower Rate
A straightforward way to save on your electric bill is to take advantage of energy choice and shop for an electricity plan with a lower cost per kilowatt hour (kwh) than your current rate. Energy choice means consumers can compare their utility’s electricity supply rates with rates offered by competitive energy suppliers like Energy Harbor.
Variable vs. Fixed Rate
Plans offer either fixed rates or variable rates. A fixed-rate plan guarantees a locked-in price per kilowatt hour for a specific period of time. This means consumers on a fixed-rate plan avoid energy market volatility. For consumers that value stability and long-term price protection, fixed-rate plans are helpful for accurate budgeting and planning. Variable-rate plans offer short-term flexibility, but are more affected by price changes in energy markets.
Budget billing is another way to control the cost of your average electric bill. Budget billing allows customers to pay the same amount each month for their monthly electric bill to smooth out the seasonal spikes and dips in energy use that occur during warmer or cooler months. Typically, this means paying a little more than your actual energy usage costs in months when you are using less so that you can lower your energy bills in months when your energy use is higher.
While budget billing makes budgeting for electricity easier, there are risks. Paying the same amount for your electric bill during months when you are using more energy could prevent you from realizing how much more energy you are actually using. Normally, a higher bill might cause you to reflect on your usage patterns or even indicate a problem. Without this monthly reminder, you could end up paying additional costs at the end of the year if you use more energy than what was projected. If you choose budget billing, be sure to review your bill each month to monitor your use.