How much does your household spend on energy? According to the EIA, the average monthly electricity bill is $117.65 for American homeowners. Depending on the season, energy costs can soar hundreds of dollars higher. Homes that consume vast amounts of energy pay double or triple the norm. Utilities can take a large bite out of your already tight budget. If you feel you’re overspending, there are small changes you can make today. Here are 11 easy ways to save money on energy bills and become more environmentally friendly.
1. Swap incandescent light bulbs for LED.
Light-emitting diode bulbs consume about 75 percent less electricity. Screw in eco-friendly LED bulbs to every light fixture. LEDs cost slightly more upfront but can last up to 50,000 hours longer. Many LED brands offer a “warm white” color to prevent the notoriously harsh lighting too. Like any light bulb, switch it off when you’re not nearby.
2. Turn the furnace down.
During the winter, avoid the temptation of heating your home to a balmy 78 degrees. Keep your thermostat around 68 degrees. There are other creative ways to fight the chill. Layer your clothes and use cozy blankets. Put down plush rugs and wear slippers to warm your frigid feet. Reverse your ceiling fans to draw cold air upward. Open the curtains to let winter sunlight in.
3. Minimize AC use too.
Many homes have central air or room air conditioning to beat the summer heat. Programming your thermostat to 70-75 degrees should keep you comfortable. Dipping into the 60s will eat up energy. Draw the curtains to block the sizzling summer sun. Use ceiling fans and exhaust vents to remove hot air. Grill outdoors instead of heating up the oven. Dress light and use ice packs to cool down.
4. Drop your water heater’s settings.
Most water heaters default to 140 degrees. Reduce the water temperature to 120 degrees. Don’t go lower because you don’t want harmful bacteria to thrive. Simply turning it to 130 degrees could cut your energy use by 5 percent. Taking cooler, shorter showers will work wonders on your utility bills. Temps below 140 degrees also prevent burns in young children.
5. Change your air filter regularly.
Install a new HEPA filter at least every three months. If you have pets and allergies, change the filter every 30 days. Filters block allergens like dust and dander from infiltrating your HVAC system. Heating and cooling equipment that’s clogged won’t work properly. Save money on your energy bills by keeping your HVAC system clean and optimized.
6. Unplug unused home appliances.
Old, inefficient appliances guzzle down energy even when they’re off. Unplugging their cords from the socket disrupts their energy supply, which could save you up to $200 each year. Unplug your computer, TV, toaster, stereo, coffee machine, and similar small appliances. Don’t pull the plug on your refrigerator. Also, unplug your phones and tablets once they’re done charging.
7. Block your home’s drafts.
Keep energy you’ve paid for from blowing right out the window. Seal every tiny hole or crevice where air can enter and escape. Apply durable caulk around your windows and doors. Use foam or foil stripping to insulate drafty areas. Place a fabric tube or rolled towel along your door sweep. Remember to also fix drafts in your attic, basement, and crawlspaces.
8. Dry your laundry naturally.
Full-size electric dryers use around $250 worth of energy yearly. Each load costs at least $0.45. To save money on energy bills, limit your dryer usage. Develop an air-drying system either indoors or outside. Hang your laundry on an old-fashioned clothesline when the weather allows. Use earth’s natural resources to dry wet clothes cheaply.
9. Update your landscaping.
Trees and shrubs around your house won’t only boost your curb appeal. Plants can save money on energy bills. Their leaves block the sun and shade homes during the summer. In winter, flora defends houses from cold wind and traps heat inside. So, try out your green thumb with a landscaping makeover. Remember to give trees room to grow at least 15 feet from your house though.
10. Shut registers in vacant rooms.
Do you have a spare bedroom or den that’s rarely used? Don’t waste money heating or cooling it then. Slide the registers closed to stop the airflow. Only shut registers in two or three rooms. Too many closed registers can hurt your HVAC system. Further, have your air ducts checked for leaks. Unsealed seams could let air escape more when registers close.
11. Let your dishwasher do the work.
Washing the dishes by hand is a chore most people would love to skip. Actually, it’s great if you do. Running water to wash dishes manually will rinse your money down the drain. Efficient dishwashers use five times less water and half the energy. Put plates and silverware right into the dishwasher without a faucet pre-wash. Your dishwasher can handle removing food bits better than your hands.
Of course, there are also big changes you can make to save on utilities. You could install a ductless mini-split HVAC system or a geothermal heat pump. You could buy brand-new EnergyStar appliances. You could invest in all new windows and insulation. You could go green with solar panels and a living roof. However, it’s best to start small with these 11 easy ways to save money on energy bills. When you have extra cash in your budget, you can consider larger home improvements to reduce your utility costs.