4 Ways to Save on Your Summer Utility Bills
Posted on: 07 August 2019
As the heat rises each summer, I tend to forget all about Captain Planet and crank up the air conditioning. Then, when the billing cycle ends, I feel more like Scrooge McDuck — appalled at the price of my energy bill.
To help save yourself from the utility bill blues, here are a few easy things you can do to save money on your utility bills:
Beware of Energy Vampires
Standby power, or the power that unused electronics use while not being in-use accounts for almost 10 percent of residential energy use. You can either unplug electronics you aren’t using or use a powerstrip with an on/off switch to control the flow of electricity to these idle products.
Use a powerstrip for these energy vampires, especially if you have older model TVs and desktop computers that are always plugged in. Take a tip from the Brits and only switch your electricity on or off when you actually need it.
Switch Up Your Laundry Routine
Washing in cold water can save as much as $40 in a year. Make sure that you are washing a full load, unless you have an HE washer that does it for you.
Hanging to dry can also help save electricity. Clothes dryers are estimated to be about 4.5 percent of residential energy usage. If you only use your dryer for one hour, once per week, you would save about $17.41 per year; however, most people do more than one load of laundry per week.
Of course, the savings depends on your circumstances, how much laundry you are actually doing, and the age/wattage of your dryer. Use this appliance energy calculator to check out your dryer’s specs, and calculate how much you can save to see how much it is worth to you.
For more energy-saving laundry tips, check out energy.gov.
Keeping Cool with Less Electricity
While it would probably be cool to save 30 percent by replacing an old thermostat with a new programmable one, some of us just aren’t in a financial place to make costly changes. Keeping your abode cool while trying to minimize your air conditioning bill is a challenge. Here are a couple of strategies to help you overcome:
First, if you are cooking food indoors, chances are that you might be heating up your house, making your AC (if you have it) work that much harder.
Consider grilling outside on the hibachi or cooking proteins in advance for cold-summer meals that will taste good, but not require heating up the kitchen every night at dinnertime. For more energy saving tips in the kitchen, check out energy.gov.
Next, think about how heat is getting into your house. While windows are a great way to get free natural light, depending on the age and quality of your windows, they might not be doing you any favors.
To keep your home cool and reduce the need for more energy to power your AC, close the windows and blinds that are facing the sun and then switch to the other side of the house in the afternoon. While using thermal insulated blackout curtains would be awesome, these can be kind of expensive. Take a hint from the depression era and capitalize on the sun’s natural movements.
Consider changing your social or shopping habits. Plan to stay cool on someone else’s dime during the hottest parts of the day. Whether that means walking to a library, spending time visiting friends, or just doing your grocery shopping at the cooled off supermarket while your house cools down can be a money saving habit.
Check with your Utility Company
Did you know that you may be able to save on your electricity bill just by contacting your provider? Depending on the way that your service is billed, you could be missing out on automatic savings by conserving energy during peak use times.
Depending on your utility provider’s billing structure, electricity can be more expensive at certain times of the day, mostly in the late afternoon and evening. Some plans even offer free power at night if you conserve during the day. With a plan that gives cheaper energy usage at night, you can save your chores and things for night time, and save money in the process.
Check online or contact your power company to see what billing model is used, and what is available. Ask about the following programs:
- Peak savings days
- Peak usage rebates
- Time of Day Plans
- Load Management Programs
In all, these tips aren’t going to help eliminate your bills entirely, but they will shave a few bucks off your bill per month.
The next time that you are in the market for a large appliance, check to see what the cost difference is for a high efficiency or EnergyStar rated appliance. These aren’t all state-of-the-art anymore. They can even be purchased second hand in many cases. This is the kind of switch that will make a big difference throughout the year.
There are many other things you can do, but you might start by seeing what will make the biggest difference and see if a local nonprofit or your utility company offers free or low-priced home energy audits to see where even small changes can make a big difference. Some utility companies even give you a bill credit or rebate for having the audit. Check out these resources for help finding a pro and DIY tips