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Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill While Sheltering in Place
A shelter in place can be stressful, but you can still be productive. Find out how you can use this time to improve your home's energy efficiency.
If you’re stuck inside due to shelter in place orders, it’s easy to go a little stir-crazy. Why not use this time to lower your energy bill?
One of the ways you can take control of your situation is by cutting down on wasted energy around your home. This could be especially important if you’re looking for ways to cut back on expenses.
Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill While Sheltering in Place
Check out these simple ways to lower your electric bill while we shelter in place and long after it passes.
Choosing more energy-efficient light bulbs is one of the simplest and most effective ways you can start saving money on energy today. According to Energy.gov, lighting accounts for 5% of the average American household’s energy bill. About 90% of the energy produced by inefficient bulbs is lost as heat, which can also add to your cooling costs. The good news is that newer energy-efficient bulbs can start paying off much sooner than you think.
Two of the main types of energy-efficient bulbs on the market are compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Energy.gov reports that CFLs can pay for themselves after just nine months and can last up to ten times longer while using 25% as much energy than a typical incandescent bulb. LEDs offer even greater savings and can last up to 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb, while also using only a quarter of the energy and all while producing much less heat.
Daylighting refers to the practice of replacing artificial lighting in a building with natural light, temperature control, and shading, as necessary. While it’s difficult to quantify your expected savings from daylighting, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association reports significant potential savings in a well-designed system.
You can implement daylighting throughout your home by simply allowing more light in, but more sophisticated options involve installing skylights and other features that allow more sunlight to enter. While the additional heat, glare, and harsh UV rays daylighting can let into your home may be a concern, you can mitigate this with blinds, smart thermostats, and even special glass that can diffuse light or reduce its intensity.
Heat from Appliances
You can use heat from your appliances to warm your home or, alternately, can cut down on using them to keep your home cooler. During the colder months, you can use the heat from your oven to keep warm, while during the warmer parts of the year, you might want to switch to a low-energy griddle to cut down on your AC bills.
One of the most popular smart home devices is a programmable thermostat. The Department of Energy suggests setting your thermostat at 78°F (26°C) degrees in the summer and 68°F (26°C) Try using a programmable thermostat to turn the air off at night or to turn the heat off at midday. As a rule of thumb, you can reduce your overall power bill by 3% for each degree you raise the thermostat.
Washing Machine and Dryer
Your washing machine and dryer represent a big potential source of savings, since many people don’t currently optimize the use of these appliances. Washing clothes with only cold water and air drying clothes can result in the biggest savings, but simply changing the times at which you wash can cut down on your power bills, too. Try to avoid peak energy usage times when washing or drying your clothes, which change with the season. In winter, peak energy usage is typically in the morning, while in the summer, it’s in the late afternoon.
When was the last time you changed your air filter? Energy.gov reports that by simply changing your air conditioner’s air filter, you can reduce its energy usage by anywhere from 5% to 15%. You’ll also improve the air quality in your home and can reduce the likelihood someone in your home suffers from or exacerbates a respiratory illness.
Check your home for any leaks, running toilets, dripping faucets that could be raising your utility bills. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, one gallon of water contains approximately 15,140 drips. Using its calculator, a home with one faucet that drips once per minute can waste 34 gallons of water per year. Leaks or drips can also form the ideal environment for mold growth, which can present health hazards to your household, making it imperative to stop them.
Windows and Doors
With so many smart devices available to us, it’s easy to forget low-tech solutions to keeping your power bills: opening a window or a door. Opening your home to the elements could quickly cool your home down, warm it up, or stabilize it. Checking the seals on your windows and doors can also make your climate control go further, as any leakages can cause your home to heat up or cool down much more than normal.
Use Appliances Wisely
It seems like a simple thing, but optimizing the use of your home appliances and electronics can lead to lasting savings. Avoid leaving your TV on when no one is in the room and turn your AC off when you’re outside. Try to minimize how often you run your dishwasher or washing machine to maximize their use. You’ll also want to try to avoid using major appliances during peak energy usage times to save on costs.
Energy Saving Apps
If you have smart devices around your home, you can use an energy saving app to lower your power bills. There’s an incredible variety of apps to choose from, including simple ones that track energy usage to more sophisticated options that offer tips and advice, track your carbon footprint, or those that can adjust appliances in real-time. Even if you don’t have many appliances to control, you could still save money by better controlling their energy usage.
While a shelter in place can be stressful, taking some time to optimize your home’s energy usage can help you save money. An energy-efficient home is also a healthier one, for you and for others. The work you put into optimizing your home will produce real and lasting benefits that will persist long after the shelter in place ends. Get started with improving energy efficiency around your home today and you could begin to enjoy the benefits immediately!