You have probably noticed that you are spending a lot on the electricity bill. Well, that is a common problem in many homes today. The U.S. Department of Energy revealed that the average American family paid $137 per month for their energy bills in 2022, while many more paid way higher.
High energy bills can put a strain on your budget. The good thing about this is that there is always something you can do to lower your energy bills. Take this post as your sign to save some cash and reduce the carbon footprint.
Looking to get started? Read on for frugal ways to reduce energy bills at home.
1. Seal Air Leaks
Openings in your house, however small they might be, make the interior less comfortable and bring about unnecessary costs. The leakages allow cool or heated air to escape. That, in turn, puts a strain on the HVAC system.
This means that your HVAC system will have to work harder and for longer to cover for the deficit that escapes.
Look for openings in the ceiling, doors, and windows and have them sealed. When in doubt, you can consult an HVAC professional. Caulks and weather strips are some materials used to seal cracks or openings.
By sealing air leaks, you can easily save 5-10% of your energy expenses.
2. Upgrade Insulation
Do you know that a third of the heat lost in uninsulated homes vanishes through walls? Insulation reduces heat transfer into or out of your living space, thus easily maintaining the required temperature.
Wondering what are some tell-tale signs that it’s time to upgrade your insulation? Temperature variations in different rooms of the same house. The other major sign is extremely high power bills.
Mineral wool and fiberglass are some common insulation materials and they are readily available. That aside, an insulation professional or an energy auditor can come in handy to determine the most practical upgrades for your specific situation.
Proper insulation also increases the value of a home by 2% to 6%, according to NestApple.
3. Use a Programmable Thermostat
Though it is a small investment, a programmable thermostat can significantly lower your energy bills. According to the US Department of Energy, homeowners can save up to 10% of their heating and cooling costs by just getting a programmable thermostat.
A smart thermostat can turn off your heating and cooling devices, including air conditioners and furnaces, when you are not using them. That way, the devices only run when needed.
Further, some thermostats can detect when you are away from home and understand your heating and cooling preferences.
Remember that the location of a thermostat matters! For the device to perform effectively, keep it away from direct sunlight, windows, and furniture.
4. Regular HVAC Maintenance
A poorly maintained HVAC system hurts your wallet and is also bad for the environment. Calling that HVAC company today for yearly or bi-annual maintenance may seem like money wastage, but it will be 100% worth it.
Besides helping you save some cash, regular maintenance improves air quality inside the house, prevents emergency repairs, and increases the lifespan of your unit.
So, what does HVAC maintenance entail? It involves charging air filters, sealing leaky ducts, and regular cleaning. The professional is also a good resource for tips and tricks to improve energy efficiency in your home.
5. Use Energy-efficient Appliances
A large portion of energy bills comes from the use of appliances such as water heaters, refrigerators, and washing machines. Decrease your utility bill by replacing outdated, energy-guzzling appliances. That electronic device from the late 90s may be consuming lots more power than you may think. Replace it, even though it’s working perfectly, and see a reduction in energy bills.
As you buy any home appliance, look for the ENERGY STAR label. The label shows that the machine uses less energy. Technology advancement is here to lower pollution and offer budget-friendly solutions.
This is another tip that may cost more money upfront but will save you lots more in the long run.
6. Adjust Water Heater Temperature
Adjusting a water heater’s temperature is among the easiest ways to save money and energy.
It is common to find a new water heater’s temperature set at 140°F (60°C) against the recommended temperature of 120°F (49°C). That said, you will reduce energy consumption by lowering the temperature.
Research has it that homeowners can save up to 10% of their monthly energy bills by lowering the temperatures of their water heaters. Additionally, a timer on your heater that switches it on and off can help you save some cash without compromising on comfort.
7. Switch To Led Lighting
The energy landscape was transformed by the invention of LED (light-emitting diode) lights. They use 75% less energy compared to incandescent lights and last around 25 times longer. This means reduced running costs and less often replacements for homeowners. Aside from being readily available, LED lights come in different shapes, colors, and sizes. Plus, they can be used inside and outside your home.
To reduce your property’s energy consumption, couple the LED lights with occupancy sensors and dimmer switches.
8. Unplug Electronics
You might have come across the term ‘phantom load.’ This is when electronic devices are on standby mode or switched off but still connected to the electricity via sockets or extension cords. When on standby mode, devices consume 9-16% of the energy they would have consumed when on. Any appliance with a clock, LCD, or light still consumes energy even after being switched off.
The surest way to ensure your electric devices, including chargers or gaming consoles, are not using power is by pulling them out from the sockets. This simple step can save you money and at the same time, benefit the environment.
9. Use Natural Light
Avoid over-reliance on artificial light and save some cash while at it. When it is daytime, take full advantage of sunlight in your house and switch off all bulbs.
Consider installing more windows in your home and use light-filtering blinds. Also, ensure windows are clean and unobstructed. A skylight can also brighten your living space, so consider installing one.
Obstacles such as trees and flowers that block sunshine should be trimmed occasionally, or planted out of the windows’ way.
Natural light improves productivity and extends the lifespan of your bulbs. Further, rooms illuminated with natural light appear bigger.
10. Seal Ducts
Duct leakages contribute to high energy bills. Holes, spaces, or cracks cause the conditioned air to escape before reaching its intended room. That, in turn, leads to higher energy bills, as HVAC units have to work harder to maintain the preferred temperatures.
Sometimes, ducts leak due to tear and wear and shoddy workmanship.
To address the leakages, consider hiring an HVAC technician to seal the ducts in your home. Proper air duct sealing improves air quality, minimizes energy bills, and contributes to less environmental pollution.
11. Install Ceiling Fans
Compared to air conditioners, ceiling fans are cheap to run. Studies show that you can save up to 5% of your cooling costs by replacing your AC with a ceiling fan.
Unlike air conditioners that lower the temperature of a room, fans produce a wind chill effect that helps cool your skin. Most ceiling fans have multiple speeds. That means that you can lower the fan’s speed when the weather is cooler and increase it if it gets hot.
On top of using a skilled technician to install your fan, you need to place the devices strategically in your home. Note that large rooms may require several fans for proper air distribution. Most importantly, always look for models with the ENERGY STAR label when purchasing a ceiling fan.
12. Wash Clothes in Cold Water
A study by Energy Star showed that water heating contributes to 90% of the energy consumed by a washing machine. Switch the temperature settings to cold on your washer, and you will notice a reduction in energy bills. The good thing is that there are detergents designed to work best with cold water; thus, cleaning your clothes doesn’t have to be an expensive affair.
Moreover, washing clothes with cold water prevents them from fading and shrinking and extends their lifespan.
If you have to wash with hot water, let it be for kitchen towels to kill bacteria, or when you want to remove stains that respond well to warm or hot water, such as grass or tomato-based stains.
13. Air-Dry Clothes
Sunlight and air are free. That is all you need to dry your wet clothes. Skip using a dryer and hang your clothes in the open air and save electricity while at it. Dryers are costly to run, especially if they are used daily. Your clothes will dry well in a well-ventilated area, for example, a balcony or the backyard.
Further, hang your heavy clothes and bedding when it’s sunny and windy. That will speed up the drying process. Aside from lowering electricity bills, it helps remove bad odors and stains. In addition, it extends the life of your clothing by minimizing wear and tear from the dryer.
14. Cook Efficiently
Cooking, on its own, doesn’t mean you will save energy bills at home. You need to cook smart and faster. First off, buy energy-efficient cookware. Copper-bottomed pots and pans become hot quickly, thus reducing cooking time. Additionally, using lids ensures heat is distributed evenly.
Batch cooking saves time and conserves energy. Cook different foods at the same time instead of each at its own time. The cooked food can be eaten, and leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator. When hunger strikes again, you can heat the leftover food using a microwave instead of cooking from scratch. Microwaves are faster and more economical for reheating small food portions.
15. Optimize Fridge and Freezer Settings
A simple adjustment on your freezer and fridge can minimize the energy they use. A refrigerator set between 37-40°F (3-4°C) works perfectly.
On top of optimizing the settings of the electrical appliances, there are measures you need to take. First, always keep the doors of your freezer and fridge closed. Regularly inspect for leakages. Moreover, you want to keep them well organized and avoid overloading. Finally, place your fridge or freezer in a cool, dry place, ideally far away from direct sunlight or your cooker.
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