Have you ever looked at your electric bill and screamed out of pure terror? If you have, join the club. Each year, millions of people fight soaring electric bills by installing compact fluorescent light bulbs, changing their air and furnace filters, and sealing up leaky windows. While those are great ways to conserve energy, they’re ineffective if you leave all the lights on and keep the heater running 24/7. The best way to lower your electric bill is to change your household habits. We have 10 simple habits you can start adopting right away.
1. Unplug everything.
Did you know that standby energy accounts for about 10 percent of your electric bill? Even if they’re not on, your electronics and appliances – even your phone charger – are still eating up energy when plugged in. That’s called vampire power. Computers and T.V.s are some of the biggest culprits. The only way to stop wasting vampire power is to keep everything unplugged when not in use. You can plug your electronics into a power strip that can be turned off easily.
2. Air-dry your laundry.
Clothes dryers take up a lot of energy. The average cost per load is 49 cents. That can add up really fast, especially if you do a lot of laundry. You can save hundreds of dollars per year by air-drying your laundry. Set up a clothes line and hang up your laundry with some clothes pins. If the weather’s too wet or cold, simply put your clothes on a drying rack next to an indoor source of warm air like a heater or a fireplace.
3. Use a toaster oven for small-sized meals.
The average toaster oven uses 50 percent less energy than a conventional oven does. Not only that, but a toaster oven also preheats more quickly and cooks food faster. With a toaster oven, you’ll get to cut back on your cooking time and energy consumption every time you cook a small-sized meal.
4. Do your dishes by hand.
Dishwashers need water hot enough to melt dish detergent, so every time you use the dishwasher, it uses up a lot of electricity to heat water up to 140 degrees. If you absolutely cannot kiss your dishwasher goodbye, at least skip the heated dry cycle. Doing so could save 20 percent of your dishwasher’s total electricity usage.
5. Wash with cold water.
Electric water heating accounts for about 15 percent of your energy bill. Taking a cold shower is most people’s idea of a cruel and unusual punishment, so a warm or hot shower is probably a necessity. However, you don’t need hot water while doing other household chores, like hand washing, laundry, or doing the dishes. It doesn’t matter whether you use hot or cold water; your hands, clothes, and dishes will turn out just as clean.
6. Turn off your electric oven before you finish cooking.
If you have an electric oven, and if you cook a lot, you might find it difficult to keep your electric bill under control. However, here’s a little trick: turn off your oven ten minutes before the end of the cooking time. Heat stays in the oven at the same temperature for a ten-minute period before it dissipates. Keep doing that, and you’ll build up hours’ worth of “free” heat!
7. Heat or cool only the rooms you’re using.
Central heat and air is great, but it accounts for a lot of wasted energy. You’re in one room at a time, so why heat up the entire house? There are plenty of heating and cooling options that will allow you to switch off your central heat or air system and still be comfortable. If your house has a baseboard heating system with a built-in thermostat in each room, use it. Also consider using fireplaces, space heaters, fans, or eco-friendly window air conditioners.
8. Close off unoccupied rooms.
You want to retain as much heat or air as possible in the areas you’re using. The best way to do that is to keep it out of the unoccupied rooms. That means shutting the doors to those rooms, closing any unoccupied heating vents or radiators, or even hanging blankets to block off any empty areas of the house. Closing off unoccupied rooms could save you about 10 percent on your energy costs.
9. Keep your blinds open during winter; keep them closed in summer.
When it’s cold outside, you want to let the sunlight into your house to help warm it up. When it’s hot outside, you want to keep the sunlight out to help keep your house cool. Your blinds can really help lower your electric bill. By using the blinds and the sunlight to your best advantage, you won’t have to use your air or heat sources as much.
10. Check your meter every month.
Your electric company isn’t perfect. They mess up sometimes, and if you don’t keep them in check, you’ll end up paying for their mistakes. A utility worker may misread your meter, so you want to check your meter every month to ensure that your electric bill is accurate. eHow.com has a wonderful set of instructions on how to check your electric meter every month.