The chilly winter months are just around the corner – and that means that many of us are going to be facing steeper power bills. Extreme temperatures – both in the winter and the summer – can often put your wallet in a pinch.
So, how can you reduce your power bill, and lower the cost of heating and cooling your home – as well as running other appliances – all-year-round? In this article, we’ll take a look at just 10 of the easiest ways you can save big, and reduce your power bill!
Keep The Temperature Reasonable
This may be common sense, but it’s still a step that most people overlook. The lower you set your thermostat in the summer, the more power you’ll use – and the same is true when you set it at a high temperature in the winter.
You can save an enormous amount of money on your HVAC bills by simply following two best practices, as recommended by the US Department of Energy.
- In the summer, set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you’re home. This may sound a bit high, but it’s the best way to maximize the energy-efficiency of your HVAC system. It’s been estimated that setting your HVAC system lower than this temperature by just one degree will cost you between 1-3% more each month – and you can use electric fans and other cheaper methods of cooling to make sure you’re comfortable.
- In the winter, set your thermostat to 68 degrees when you’re home. Again, this may sound a bit cold, but if you bundle up, it’s quite manageable for most folks – and it can save you an enormous amount of money on heating costs, as well as prolong the lifespan of your furnace.
This simple step can save you a ton of money in the hot summer and cold winters – and is definitely our #1 tip.
Consider A Timed “Smart” Thermostat
You can boost your savings even more by investing in a “timed” thermostat. You can set the temperature to be higher in the summer when you’re not at work – and to automatically be set to 78 degrees right before you get home.
And, in the winter, you could program your thermostat to drop the temperature to the low 60s when you’re asleep – and already covered by plenty of warm blankets. This can help you boost the efficiency of your HVAC system even more – saving you a ton of cash.
Many energy companies are happy to offer rebates or even free installation of these thermostats – so contact your energy provider, and see if they offer any of these products.
Insulate, Insulate, Insulate
Insulation is the key to a warm home in the winter, and a cool home in the summer. Bolstering insulation in common energy-loss areas like attics can save you a ton of money in the long run – and help reduce your monthly energy costs.
Adding more insulation to a basement can reduce your energy costs by up to 10%, and adding more insulation to the attic can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 40%. The hotter (or cooler) your climate is, the more you can save by investing in additional insulation!
Check For Drafts And Weatherproof
Insulation is only part of the puzzle when it comes to eliminating inefficiencies in your home. Drafts can be caused by worn-out weatherproofing on exterior doors and windows. Most weatherproofing is made out of rubber, which can degrade over time.
As this rubber degrades, drafts are more likely to occur in your home. You can check for drafts at doors and windows by simply placing a hand near a gap, and feeling for any suspiciously cool areas, or wind chill and noise. If you notice any areas where there are significant drafts, you may need to add new weather stripping.
Consider Window Shutters And Energy-Efficient Window Treatments
Windows are, obviously, a necessity for any home. But they are also one of the main sources of heat loss – even windows that are made from an energy-efficient, double-glazed design are still responsible for a lot of heat gain in the summer, and heat loss in the winter.
One of the best ways to reduce this is by installing window shutters outside your windows. These shutters can reduce solar heat gain in the summer, and heat loss in the winter.
If you’re not interested in adding storm shutters to your home, another alternative is to invest in cellular shades and thick curtains. Cellular shades help insulate your windows, and thick curtains also help reduce draftiness, and increase their efficiency in both the winter and summer.
Run Dishwashers, Washing Machines, And Dryers Only When They’re Totally Full
This lifestyle change can save you a significant amount of money. When you run an appliance like a washing machine or dishwasher, you use up a significant amount of hot water, and the appliance itself also requires a lot of power. The same is true of a dryer, to a certain extent.
Running these appliances when they’re only partially full wastes quite a bit of energy – even if you can adjust cycle times for smaller loads. If you wait until you can run a completely full load in these appliances, you’ll reduce your energy use significantly.
You can also reduce your power usage by washing your clothes on cold – you may save up to 50%, compared to washing them with hot water.
Check Your Hot Water Heater (And Consider Replacing It With A Tankless Unit)
Your hot water heater can use up quite a bit of power, especially if it’s older, worn-out, and not energy-efficient. It’s best to have your water heater inspected regularly – and to replace it if it’s over 10 years old.
You can also reduce your power bill by setting your water heater to a temperature of 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit. By default, they are usually set to 140 degrees – which is too hot for most hot water needs, and wastes power.
Another way to reduce your power bill is to replace your hot water heater with a tankless unit. Tankless water heaters use powerful electric or gas-powered heating elements to heat water on-demand. This means you only pay for hot water when you’re using it – and you’ll never run out. On average, you’ll save 24-34%, compared to using a traditional tank-based heater.
Check For Water Leaks
Water leaks from your hot water heater can be a big source of energy loss. Periodically inspecting your plumbing is a good idea – especially before the winter – as it can help you identify failing pipes, which could cause leaks and water damage.
Replace Your Air Filters
Your central HVAC air filter should be replaced every 3-6 months, or even more regularly if you live in an area with lots of dust and pollen, or if you have multiple pets like cats and dogs.
If your air filter is clogged, your furnace and your air conditioning systems will be much less efficient. Air simply won’t be able to flow through the filter and into your home properly – leading to energy waste, as well as uncomfortably hot or cold temperatures. Check and replace your air filters regularly.
Turn Lights Off Whenever You Leave The Room (And Consider LED Bulbs)
The last tip is the most simple one – never leave lights on when you’re not using them. About 10% of energy consumption goes towards powering lighting. Leaving lights on when you’re not using them is pointless, and a waste of energy – so make a habit of turning off lights whenever you leave a room, or consider investing in smart, motion-sensitive lights that can turn themselves off when a room is empty.
You may also want to invest in energy-efficient LED bulbs. LED bulbs consume nearly 4x less power than incandescent light bulbs, and have an average lifespan of around 25,000 hours – compared to just 1,200 hours for incandescent bulbs. While they are usually more expensive upfront, they are much cheaper in the long run – and a great long-term investment.
Follow These Tips – And Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient!
Whether you choose to upgrade to a tankless water heater, keep the thermostat at a more reasonable temperature, or even just remember to turn off your lights when you leave the room, these tips are sure to help you save some money on your power
So take another look at them now – and think about which ones you can start using today!