14 Ways to Reduce Your Electric Bill

Kathryn Pomroy
Written by Kathryn Pomroy
Updated September 3, 2021
Woman using a desktop computer at home
Photo: Goodluz / Adobe Stock

Tweaking your energy use and saving money on your electricity bill doesn't mean living in the dark

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Tired of high electric bills? You’re not alone, especially when you consider that the average cost of electricity in the U.S. is $125 per month. The good news is that you can lower your electric bill without turning off all the lights or living off the grid. Even if you rent your home or apartment, you can save big by following these tips, tricks, or life hacks.

1. Stop Vampire Power

You might be surprised about how many devices in your home use power even when not in use. These power drains, called vampire power, standby power, phantom load, or leaking electricity, can account for 5 to 10 percent of your total electrical use.

Plug your devices, like phone chargers, printers, or monitors, into a power strip so that you can turn off the power when you're not using the item. You may not want to shut down your computer completely, so make sure that it goes into sleep mode when not in use

2. Try Switching to CFL and LED Lighting

Substituting compact fluorescent light (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs in your light fixtures is a great way to reduce your home lighting costs. CFL bulbs offer significant energy savings, and LED bulbs are 80% more efficient than incandescent lighting.

Are you worried about the price of that LED bulb? Longer-lasting LED bulbs use less energy than standard bulbs saving you thousands in the long run. Plus, they don’t contain any lead or mercury.

3. Get a Free Energy Check-Up

Many energy companies will come to your home and do a free home energy audit to show you where you can save money and trim your energy use. If you’re not sure the utility company in your area performs check-ups, do one yourself and see how your home measures up.

4. Use Outdoor Solar Lights Instead

Lighting your back patio and walkways is an excellent way to ensure your safety at night. Plus, they can make your backyard parties come alive after the sun goes down. But instead of using standard light bulbs, try solar lights. They automatically turn on at dusk, using the solar energy they collected from the sun throughout the day. You can stick them in the ground or hang them from a nearby tree. 

5. Keep Fridge and Freezer Stocked

Keeping both your freezer and refrigerator full can save on energy use. That’s because food acts as an insulator, which means your refrigerator doesn’t have to run as often to stay cool. That way you’ll also have everything on hand if friends stop by unexpectedly. But remember, every time you open the refrigerator door and leave it open while you search for your favorite item, up to 30% of the cooled air inside escapes. 

6. Use a Clothesline

Hanging your laundry either outside or on a basement or laundry room clothesline (or even on a shower rod) can cut down on dryer use and on energy use. If you don’t want to hang all of your clothes, then just line-dry heavy towels, sheets, and quilts that take much longer to dry and use more energy. Besides, nothing smells better than sheets and clothes dried in the warm spring air.

7. Shut Your Drapes

Woman closing the window curtain
Photo: Africa Studio / Adobe Stock

During those hot summer months, shutting your drapes or pulling your blinds can save you from running your air conditioner all day. Still like to see outside? Install sun-blocking window film. 

8. Change Your HVAC Filters

Regularly changing out or cleaning your HVAC filters can save a lot on your energy bills. Dust and dirt can build and keep your unit from running at peak performance. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) recommends changing your HVAC filters at least every 90 days. But cleaning them frequently also helps. 

9. Plant Shade Trees or Bushes

Everyone loves a green oasis, so why not brighten up your yard while also shading the sunny side of your home by planting shade trees or tall bushes. Plus, you can cut your AC costs by more than 55% if you plant the right trees in the right places. 

10. Turn Off the Heat Setting on Your Dishwasher

Yes, you’ll probably have to dry your dishes, but the energy savings you’ll see from simply turning off the heat setting on your dishwasher can really add up. If your dishwasher is less than 20 years old, it’s probably Energy Star-certified, which saves a lot of energy over older models. And did you know that it takes 2-times more energy to wash dishes by hand with hot water vs. using a new Energy Star-certified dishwasher? 

11. Wash Your Clothes on Cold

You’ve probably heard that washing your clothes in warm or hot water was the only way to get them clean. However, washing them in cold water is just as effective, and it saves money. That’s because 90% of the energy used by your washing machine goes to heating the water. 

12. Make Sure Your Home Is Well-Insulated

Turning down the thermostat helps, but making sure you have enough insulation or upgrading the insulation in the walls, attic, and ceilings of your home can save energy and cut down on your energy bill. Not sure how much is enough? The U.S. Department of Energy has an online tool that can help. Bonus tip: you can save money by insulating your water heater too. 

13. Run a Ceiling Fan vs. Your A/C

Ceiling fans are both cost-effective and energy-efficient ways to keep cool. Especially when compared to your energy-guzzling AC unit. For instance, a 48-inch ceiling fan using 75 Watts for 3 hours a day @ $0.10 per kWh costs only $8.21 per day.

14. Turn On Appliances During Off-Peak Hours

Many utility companies around the U.S. are offering Time-Of-Use (TOU) plans to their customers. With TOU plans, customers are charged more for electricity during afternoon peak hours and less during off-peak hours—late at night or early in the morning—when demand is lower. Call your local utility to find out if it offers a TOU plan. You might save a bundle on your electric bill over time. 

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