Are you ready to trim the fat from your electric bill? It may seem like an impossible task, but there are several ways to keep the lights on without sacrificing your whole paycheck. You can start today by making sure you’ve got good energy-saving habits. Then, we can show you some minor electrical updates that have maximum impact, as well as a few system upgrades to consider.
Good Energy-saving Habits
Let’s jump right in by looking at a few habits that are as good for your pocket as they are for the planet.
- Only run full loads in the dishwasher.
- Wash clothes in cold water.
According to Cold Water Saves, about 90% of the cost of running the washing machine goes to heating the water!
- Dry clothes on a line and pop them in the dryer to fluff them…or dry loads back-to-back so it doesn’t have to heat up all over again.
- Change your HVAC air filter regularly.
- Turn off power strips when devices are not in use.
- Use power-saving features on your computer.
- Turn off lights when you leave a room.
- Refresh seals on doors and windows, if necessary.
- Adjust refrigerator and/or freezer temperatures.
- Turn down your water heater thermostat.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, water heating is the second largest expense in your home and can cost between $400 – $600 each year for the average household.
- Use a toaster oven instead of a full-size oven whenever possible.
Relatively Minor Electrical Updates
Now, let’s take a look at some big energy savers that require only a minimal investment.
LED Lighting: The sale of incandescent bulbs has been officially banned in the United States, but some folks may still have them lighting their homes. Switching to LED bulbs can dramatically reduce your energy consumption for lighting. Plus, they will last far longer and don’t pose the same fire risk as their heat-emitting predecessors!
Light Switch Timers & Dimmers: Adding a timer to you light switches is an excellent way to reduce energy costs. It helps you avoid leaving lights on accidentally or for extended periods of time. And dimmers, of course, allow you to adjust the brightness of the room to your comfort level while not having to power lights at their maximum capacity every time.
Fun fact: Dimmers extend the lifespan of your light bulbs! Make them LED and they’ll last even longer.
Smart Thermostat: WiFi-enabled thermostats allow you to monitor and adjust your home’s temperature remotely. This allows you to program and modify settings for optimal performance around your own schedule…even when you’re out of town. Plus, you can review historical usage data to identify even more ways to cut costs.
Smart Outlets: Did you know that plugged-in appliances use power even when they’re turned off? They use standby power which allows them to turn on more quickly. Smart outlets monitor electricity and automatically disable devices that aren’t in use. You can program them to maximize cost savings and they’re a great addition to your home security system. Turning things on or off remotely allows you to create the illusion of occupancy while you’re away.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Standby Power (electricity used when devices are plugged in but turned off) is responsible for 5-10% of your residential energy use…costing homeowners as much as $100/yr!
Ceiling Fans: Installing ceiling fans is a good way to keep the air moving when temperatures are moderate. In fact, they can even improve the efficiency of you’re A/C unit by aiding the circulation of air and cooling the room more quickly. Run your ceiling fan clockwise in the winter and counterclockwise in the summer to save the most on heating and air bills.
Whole House Fan: Here in the South, there are certain times of the year when you’d like to be able to turn off the A/C and open the windows. Perhaps one of the “coolest” things you can do is install a whole house fan. Most draw air into the attic, but there are creative ways they can be incorporated if you don’t have attic space. When the outside air is cool on spring or fall nights, a whole house fan can quickly draw that air in from open windows or doors and pull it through every room in the house…at a fraction of the cost of running the air conditioner.
System Upgrades to Improve Energy Efficiency
When most people think about energy efficiency, they think about Energy Star appliances. And you can save a lot by installing newer, more efficient HVAC units, water heaters, dishwashers, etc. But did you know that electrical system upgrades can also reduce your energy consumption?
Wiring Upgrade: Believe it or not, old wiring is sometimes the culprit when it comes to high energy bills. If wires are deteriorating or connections are inefficient, they not only cost you money on your power bill, but they cost you even more by the safety risk they may pose to your family and home. The cost of rewiring a home varies greatly, so before you put this one off until you get that windfall of financial fortune, consider having one of our electricians give you an estimate. It may not be as bad as you think. We do offer financing options, if needed.
Electrical Panel Upgrade: Your electrical panel may be the last thing on your mind, but it is worth considering in your efforts to save money. Although it’s a larger expense that will take time to recoup, a Smart Panel upgrade can save you money in the long run. That’s because a newer “intelligent” panel can more efficiently channel power to where it needs to be inside your home. Plus, a qualified installer can make sure you have the power you need to run more modern appliances and equipment without taxing your system or risking dangerous electrical overloads that can lead to even more expenses. Smart Panels can lower energy costs, make more efficient use of the power, switch between solar, wind, and grid electricity, and let you diagnose electrical problems remotely. They’ll make your home more efficient now, but the expense of the unit means that it could take a while to see the savings.
EV Charging Station: If you’ve got an electric vehicle, it only makes sense that you’d want the convenience of charging at home. But do you know that charging your car at home is actually cheaper? And an added bonus is that it will increase the value of your home. Be sure to check for rebates from your power company as well!
The cost of using a home EV charging station is typically less than half the cost as using a public charger.
We understand that electrical maintenance and upgrades may not be the most exciting way to spend your hard-earned money, but sometimes a little spending in the right places can actually save you money in the long run. Need more tips or want one of our technicians to evaluate how you can save money on electricity? Give us a call!