Find quick and easy tips to lower your electric bill.
With the rising cost of energy, nearly everyone is looking for tips to lower their electric bills. Unfortunately, the high cost of oil translates into higher costs for other utilities, including electricity. Luckily, there are steps that can be taken in and around the house to help lower electric bills. Take a look below at some simple tips to lower the electric bill.
According to the Delaware Public Service Commission, installing thermal insulation is the single most important step in conserving home energy. Homes should be well insulated in the attic, ceilings, exterior walls, floors and over crawl spaces. Insulation is measured by R-value. A higher R-value indicates better insulation and greater resistance to the transfer of heat.
For example, if the insulation in an attic is less than R-22 (which is the equivalent to about seven inches of fiber glass or rock wool insulation, or six inches of cellulose insulation), the attic needs more insulation to conserve energy more effectively, since most attics should have between R-22 and R-49 insulation. The U.S. Department of Energy offers geographic charts to help identify insulation needs by region, and even offers a zip code insulation calculator to further narrow down insulation needs depending on geographic area.
The key to lowering electric bills in the summertime, according to the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, is to ensure that air conditioners are used wisely and properly maintained. To properly maintain an air conditioner, the filter should be changed regularly, vents kept clean, intake vents cleared of dust blockage, ducts kept properly sealed and the thermostat should be dusted regularly. The thermostat should be set at the highest comfortable temperature; cooling bills can be reduced by two percent for every one degree the thermostat is raised during the summer.
Other tips include using ceiling fans to complement central air conditioners and keeping heat generating appliances, including lamps and televisions, away from the thermostat. Cooling vents should be closed and window air conditioners turned off in unused rooms. Window coverings should be drawn during the hottest part of the day, especially on windows that face south and west, to prevent direct sunlight from increasing the heat.
According to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, water heaters are the second largest energy consumers in most homes. To conserve electricity used to heat water, the water temperature should be adjusted to 120 degrees fahrenheit. Leaky faucets should be repaired right away, especially if they leak hot water; if leaks go unattended, they can waste gallons of water along with the electricity that was used to heat the water. Using low-flow showerheads and faucets may also cut down on water usage, and in turn save electricity.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, appliances such as refrigerators, washers and dryers account for about 20 percent of a home's energy consumption. When shopping for new appliances, consider buying Energy Star-rated appliances, which usually greatly exceed minimum federal standards.
Existing appliances should be well maintained. Condenser coils at the back or bottom of refrigerators should be cleaned regularly to maximize the cooling power of the appliance. Clothes washers and dishwashers should only be run with full loads in order to conserve water and the electricity it takes to heat the water. Heavy and light fabrics should be dried separately to reduce the time that the dryer is running (better yet, clothes can be hung on a clothesline to dry, saving drying costs altogether). The lint filter should be cleaned before each use of the dryer. Cooking with a microwave, toaster oven or slow-cooker uses less energy than a conventional oven.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to save energy is to install compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that making the change to new lighting technologies can reduce the energy used to light a home by 50 to 75 percent. Lights should be turned off when not in use; task lighting can cut down on electricity use by directing the light where it is needed, rather than brightly lighting a whole room. Outdoor lights can be activated by motion sensors so they will turn on only when someone is present.
Computers, televisions and cell phone chargers use electricity even when they are off or in sleep mode; unplugging this equipment when not in use can result in savings that can help lower electricity bills.