March 29, 2021
Money for nothing? You can save hundreds of dollars on your electric bill with these 13 no-cost tips.
Life as we know it would be impossible without electricity, but electricity costs money. And with more people at home these days, you’ve probably seen an uptick in your electric bill. Nationwide, the average residential electric bill is about $115 a month—which adds up to almost $1,400 per year. Like many, you may be wondering, what can you do to reduce your electricity costs?
The best way to cut your electric bill is to be smart and intentional about how you use power. Sure, you could replace your aging air conditioner and heater, buy all new energy-efficient appliances, and even set up a windmill to generate your own power. But while there’s nothing wrong with those ideas, they’re expensive.
So until you’re able to totally remodel your house for maximum energy efficiency, here are the top 13 things you can do to start reducing your electric bill today. Putting these no-extra-cost strategies into practice in your home could potentially cut your electricity costs by about 50%, saving you as much as $740 every year (about $62 a month). Of course, your family’s actual savings will depend on a wide range of unique factors, including your home’s size and age, your climate, your power utility, and how many people live with you.
So check out this list of useful tips, presented in order from the greatest savings potential to the least. How many of these tips can your family use?
- Kill the vampires. Devices such as TVs, microwaves, computers, monitors, and printers all use standby (or “vampire”) power when plugged in—even when the devices themselves are turned off. Standby power enables devices to start up quickly when powered on, but it also accounts for up to 10% of an average home’s electricity use. To stop paying for vampire power, plug a group of devices into a single power strip so you can switch them all off at once. You’ll save money because switching off the power strip has the same effect as unplugging the devices. If you don’t have or can’t afford power strips, just be sure to unplug non-essential electrical devices until you need them. This strategy alone could shave up to $138 per year off of the average electric bill.
- Lower the heat. Do you have electric heat? During cold weather, lowering your thermostat just two degrees can save you up to 5% on your power bill. Lowering the temperature by five degrees could save you up as much as 10%, which could reduce your electric bill by up to $127 per year.
- Replace air filters. Help your heating and A/C systems run at peak efficiency by regularly replacing your air filters. Check your filters monthly, and clean or replace them every two or three months—or when they’re obviously dirty. The cleaner the filter, the greater the airflow, and the better your heat and A/C systems will work. Potential savings of up to $100 every year.
- Turn off lights. About 20% of the average homeowner’s electric bill pays for lighting. To save money, when you leave a room, turn off the lights. Here are more lighting-related tips that could save you a total of up to $75 per year:
- Open the drapes. Is the weather cold but sunny? Open curtains to enable sunlight to naturally warm your space. One south-facing window can light up an area 20 to 100 times the size of the window opening. Sunlight also improves your mood and brightens your day.
- Close the drapes. When the weather’s warm, close the curtains to help keep the house cool. Blocking heat from the afternoon sun could save you up to $45 per year in reduced A/C costs.
- Use LED lightbulbs. When you shop for bulbs, switch to LEDs, which use about 85% less power than incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs cost a bit more, but they last 25 times longer, and they can reduce your lighting energy consumption by 75 - 90%.
- Leave ceiling lights off. Instead, use LED table lamps, track lighting, and under-cabinet task lights in work and hobby areas as well as in your kitchen. Turning off four 100-watt incandescent bulbs for an extra two hours each day could save you as much as $30 annually.
- Use off-peak power. To help reduce power demand during peak usages, many electric utilities cut their rates during off-peak hours (typically around 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.). So running your dishwasher or clothes dryer late in the evening could save you money and help your utility balance its power flow. This time-of-use (TOU) rates can also save you money if you own a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, which is typically recharged overnight. Average savings depend on each homeowner’s unique situation, but if you can use this tip to cut your total electric costs by 5%, you can save up as much as $70
- Dry on the line. If you were a kid before the 1970s, you remember when nearly everyone hung their laundry outside on a clothesline to dry. Now clotheslines are making a comeback, and people are rediscovering the freshness of clothing that’s been dried in warm, breezy sunlight. If you do eight loads of laundry a week and use a clothesline to dry just half of them, you could save about $65 a year.
- Wash full loads in cold. Washing multiple small loads of clothing means heating more water, which increases your expenses. Using cold water for just three loads every week can save you up to $22 a year. If you eliminate just one wash load per week—even if you already use only cold water—you could save an additional $18 per year. Overall annual savings: $40.
- Take quicker showers. Your water heater is one of your home’s top consumers of electricity. If just two people in your family could reduce their shower time by one minute each, you could save as much as $30 per year.
- Turn off the dishwasher heat. If you use a dishwasher, turn off its “heat dry” setting, which is a big user of electricity. If you wash just one load of dishes per day, you could save as much as $27 a year.
- Run your fridge efficiently. How cold is your fridge? Bet you don’t know! To help make sure everything runs as efficiently as possible, keep both your fridge and your freezer at their ideal operating temperatures: Set the fridge at about 35-37° F (2-3° C); the freezer should be at 0° F (-18° C). Potential annual savings: $25.
- Turn off the tap. Turn off the faucet while handwashing dishes, brushing your teeth, and washing your hands. Letting water run during these simple activities wastes gallons, which increases your hot-water costs. Turning off the tap can reduce your hot-water consumption by just 5%, which could save you up to $19.
- Don’t use the oven. Electric ovens are a significant contributor to high power bills. Instead, use your microwave oven, slow cooker, toaster oven, pressure cooker, or air fryer. A microwave oven or pressure cooker can do in 15 minutes what it takes a conventional oven 60 minutes to accomplish. If you use a countertop cooker instead of your oven four times a week, you could save about $18 per year.
- Throw in a towel. You can’t always dry clothes on a clothesline. So add a dry towel to each dryer load to help reduce drying time. If you dry eight loads a month, throwing in that towel could save you $7 a year.
As you can see, no single strategy delivers huge savings. But when you add up the results of putting multiple strategies into practice, the benefits have a greater impact—and save you more money.
For more great, no-cost energy savings tips, visit the website of BC Hydro, a power utility in British Columbia, Canada. You can also contact your local electric utility to learn about regional and local strategies and promotions that can help you conserve energy and cut your power costs.