Some seasons have us watching the thermostat like a hawk (a super money-conscious hawk). But let’s face it—these days, our electric bills are feeling a little wild all year long. The washer, the dryer, the fridge, the dishwasher, the soothing salt lamp, all our plugged-in devices . . . we’re using lots of energy.
Don’t worry. With this list of tips, you’ll learn how to save on your electric bill so you can stay comfortable in your home—and with your wallet.
13 Ways to Save on Your Electric Bill
1. Do an electricity audit.
Don’t let the word audit scare you. Basically, this audit just means looking over the electric usage in your home. For the best audit possible, call in an expert from your local electric company. Many offer this service for free (or at a super low cost)!
You can also search for free online electricity audit tools and do a simple version on your own.
Some of what you find will be quick, cheap fixes. Others might mean investing in better appliances or other big purchases. Be sure you run numbers to see if it’s worth it for your budget, your future savings, and even the resale value of your home!
2. Turn off the lights.
Keeping the lights on when they’re not in use is a real drain on your electricity—and your budget. Check out this math:
- For every 40-watt light bulb that runs for an hour, 0.04 kWh of energy is used up.
- If your electric company charges 10 cents per kWh of electricity, that means every hour the light is turned off, you’ll save $0.004.1
- This. Adds. Up. If you switch off just five lights in your house for 10 hours a day, you’ll save $6 a month on your electric bill right there.
- The more lights you switch off (and the higher wattage they are), the more you’ll save on the electric bill!
So, get in the habit of turning on the light only for the room you’re using right then. And if it’s sunny out, use that natural light to your advantage. Not only is it easy on the eyes, but it’s also free!
3. Change your light bulbs.
Buying more energy-efficient bulbs will cost a bit more up front, but you’ll be saving money each month in no time.
A typical Energy Star-certified LED light bulb saves households around $225 in energy per year.2 Most LED lights use up to 90% less energy than those old incandescent lights (which are actually banned now!) and last up to 25 times longer!3 Worth. It.
4. Check for air leaks.
Ask yourself these questions when checking for air leaks:
- Are the windows whistling?
- Can you hear air coming in from under the front door on windy days?
- Do the doors actually seal shut when you close them?
- Is the fireplace damper working?
Air sealing your home is a cheap and easy money saver! Just pick up some weather strips for your doors and windows. You’ll also need some caulk to seal those leaky areas in your plumbing, air ducts and wiring.
Buying weather strips, caulk and a caulk gun will cost you around $15, but it can save you up to 20% on your energy costs.4 Talk about a return on investment!
5. Replace the air filter.
We know, it’s hard to keep track of everything you need to replace throughout the year. But guess what? Replacing your air filter every three months is a simple fix that can beef up the life of your HVAC system and make it run more efficiently (lowering your electric bill and saving you money in the long run).
Set a calendar reminder. Change your air filters. Save electricity!
6. Shut the door.
You remember it well as a kid. You were having the best summer ever, racing in and out the house, playing with the neighbor kids (and leaving the door wide open). After a few times in and out, your mom would shout, “Were you born in a barn? Close the door!” Ah, sweet childhood memories.
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Your mom had a point. Keeping the outside doors open while the AC unit—or furnace—is running is a bad idea. Not only are you letting that precious (and expensive) air escape, but you’re also making your unit run harder for longer. Just picture your dollars sailing out the door . . . right alongside your coveted cool air. Yikes.
7. Program your thermostat.
Did you know dialing down your thermostat by 7–10 degrees for eight hours a day can help you save 10% on your electric bill each year?5 You can do this the old-fashioned way: Just change the thermostat when you wake up and adjust it again before you go to sleep.
If you want to save your sanity, you can buy a programmable thermostat (if it’s in the budget, of course). It’ll save you the hassle of remembering to turn the temperature up or down morning and night, and it’s not that expensive either (some start at just $20).
8. Don’t run your appliances unless they’re full.
We’re talking about things likes your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer. If your kid comes home with super dirty, smelly and stained pants (you know the ones), you might be tempted to wash and dry those (in your hazmat suit) on their own. Don’t do it! You’re wasting money by letting those machines work so hard on so little.
Hand-wash if you need something cleaned pronto, and wait until you have a full load of clothes in your hamper before you declare it laundry day. (If you’ve got a couple kids, that happens pretty often anyway.) It’s good for the environment and your wallet.
If you want to dig a little deeper, use this handy home energy use calculator to estimate just how much your appliances are costing you.
Pro tip: When it is laundry day, wash everything in cold or warm water instead of hot.6
9. Check phantom energy.
No, we’re not talking about ghosts here. We’re talking about phantom energy (aka standby power)—a little something that happens when appliances use up energy even when they’re turned off or not running!
Yep, start unplugging those devices and appliances when you’re not using them. You’ll be surprised by how much money you’ll save on your electric bill just by pulling the plug. Phantom energy makes up 5–10% of residential electricity use—for nothing.7 Now that’s scary.
10. Adjust your refrigerator.
This is another one of the small fixes that makes a big impact. Take a look at your settings on the refrigerator. A good rule of thumb is to keep your fridge set at about 35–38 degrees.8
Adjusting the settings like this will keep your food fresh but will make sure your unit isn’t zapping extra energy by working overtime to keep everything too cold.
11. Keep your freezer full.
Every time you open the freezer door to pull out a Push Pop for the kids, the cool air comes out and warm air comes in. Then the freezer has to use energy to cool it all down again. But when the freezer is full, there’s less room to fill up with warm air—plus all those already frozen items act like insulation.
12. Lower the hot water heater temperature.
Most people don’t ever stop and wonder if their water temperature is too high. You turn on the tap, the warm water comes out, and you go on about your business. But if your water temperature is set too high, you could be wasting $36–61 each year.9
Setting the water heater to 140 degrees should be okay, but keep in mind that sometimes it could give you scalding hot water too. On the other hand, setting it too low to 120 degrees can mess with your dishwasher’s bacteria-killing abilities. Play around with the temperature settings and see what works for you.
13. Ask about discounts and incentives.
We all love a good discount, right? So, check with your local electric company to see if there are any special savings available to help you save on this home expense. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know!
- Some companies give discounts for going paperless.
- Others give rebates based on any energy-saving home improvements you do to your home.
- Some give savings for using electricity during off-peak hours.
Plus, if you sign up for their newsletters, they’ll probably share tips and tricks that can help you save even more on your electric bill.
Put Those Saved Dollars to Work!
Once you start saving money on your electric bill, you’ll want to make sure you give those savings a job. That’s right—stick those dollar bills in the budget and put them to work! It’s simple with our very own (and free) budgeting app, EveryDollar.
Hey, what are you waiting for? Pick a savings method (or all 13) from this list and start saving on your electric bill today.