Lowering Your Electric Bill

Your electric bill is made up of many appliances, devices and electronics. Your heating and cooling system and water heater contribute significantly to how much you pay each month, but lighting and appliances use a lot of energy as well, and the growing number of devices that plug in are starting to make a sizable impact. Fortunately, your electric bills are not set in stone. There are a number of ways to help lower them while also improving convenience and comfort.

Simple yet effective actions

One of the most straightforward habits you can build to save energy is to shut off appliances and electronics (including lights) when they are not in use. Some electronics, such as televisions, draw power even when turned off, so completely unplugging them helps even more. A related solution is to add these devices to a power strip that can be easily switched off and on.

Along with turning off your lights, consider replacing the bulbs with more efficient ones. LEDs are currently the best option and are becoming more affordable. They last 20-30 times longer than incandescent bulbs while being at least 75 percent more efficient. They are also more desirable than CFLs because they provide additional savings and do not contain mercury.

With heating and cooling making up such a large portion of electric bills, keep an eye on your thermostat and try to leave it at the warmest comfortable temperature in the summer and the coolest comfortable temperature in the winter. This will make your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system have to work as little as possible. Depending on your schedule and budget, consider a programmable or smart thermostat to automatically set temperatures throughout the day.

Furthermore, be sure the thermostat fan is on “Auto” so that it runs only when the system is heating or cooling. And during summer months, use a ceiling or space fan to supplement cooling and increase the thermostat setting a bit. Just remember to turn the fan off when you leave the room – unless you are within the fan’s airflow, there is no cooling effect.

­Higher savings, longer payback

In addition to the approaches above, there are more advanced steps you can take if you want to continue to increase your house’s efficiency. These measures tend to take more time, money and effort, but they can go a long way toward reducing your electric bill and increasing your comfort.

Upgrading your home can seem like a daunting task, but there are many ways to make a difference depending on how much time and money you want to invest. The measures discussed here may not be cure-alls, but they can be good places to start if you’re looking to lower your electric bill and improve your comfort. Be sure to check with your local utility and government for advice, programs, rebates and incentives. If you are unclear on what measures make the most sense, a reputable contractor may be able to point you in the right direction.