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Published on November 3rd, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan

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7 Ways To Reduce Your Electricity Bill

November 3rd, 2013 by  

Originally published on Cost of Solar.

A lot of people are looking to save money these days. No one knows what the future holds, and we all know that the world has been marred with economic troubles in the past decade or so. A major household expenditure for most of us is our electric bill. And our electricity usage is a great place to start when we’re looking at how to lower our bills.

lower-electric-bill

How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #1 — Go Solar!

I’m going to go ahead and start with the most obvious — the most effective way to lower your electric bill is very likely by going solar. Sure, you have to pay for those solar panels, but they are cheaper (in the long run) than electricity. The average household that goes solar is likely to save tens of thousands of dollars over the course of their solar panel system’s lifetime.

Furthermore, if you have a solar leasing option in your area, you can consider going solar without purchasing the system at all, allowing you to save money on your electric bill from day one. The average middle-class family that goes solar using a solar leasing model is projected to save $600 a year, according to one recent study.

Luckily, electricity usage, electricity costs, and sunshine are all pretty predictable factors. So, you can estimate how much you’d probably save by going solar, or you can get help with that, and then you can decide if you think it’s worth the investment or not.

Check out the specific projections for your home or business.

How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #2 — Switch To LEDs!

Now, beyond the big boy, probably the next best step you can take is ditching your incandescent light bulbs for LEDs. Yes, previously, CFLs were the hot green option for lighting. However, the cost of even more-efficient LEDs has come down tremendously in recent years, and a couple of $5 or $10 LED options are probably your best options for low-cost, high-efficiency, green lighting.

Another positive of LEDs is that they don’t contain any mercury. While cutting electricity use by switching from incandescent light bulbs to CFLs surely reduces mercury pollution from coal power plants, CFLs do contain a tiny amount of mercury, which puts some people off. LEDs, on the other hand, are a completely different technology and don’t require or contain any mercury.

Now that the cost of LEDs has come down so far, I think they will quickly grow in use and replace both incandescent and CFL bulbs. Since 2008, LED costs have fallen 85%, and we’ve gone from about 400,000 LED lights installed in the US in 2008 to approximately 20 million today, 50 times more! Join the LED revolution!

How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #3 — Cut Your AC/Heating Needs

Air conditioning and heating are major electricity hogs for a large number of people. However, a big reason for that is simply because we’ve gotten lazy about adjusting to our environment, or even gone in the opposite direction.

How many times have you been somewhere on a hot day in which the air condition was on so high that you had to put on more clothes to warm up? It’s all too common, and maybe you even have the AC set in such a way in your home. Give it some thought. Rather than paying a fortune to freeze yourself, or even to keep it cooler than your body really needs, lower your electric bill by simply raising your thermostat. Our bodies are made to adjust to our surrounding environment. Let your body do its job. And if you want to go even further, turn on a fan to keep cool so that you can turn the temperature on the AC up even further, or can even turn it off altogether. Blowing air on yourself takes a lot less energy than turning hot air into cold air.

On the flip side is of course the use of heating. In reverse from the above, you can lower your electric bill (or your heating bill, if they are separate) by simply letting your body adjust more to a cooler environment, by putting on more clothes (rather than walking around in your underwear in the middle of winter), and by using a blanket from time to time.


How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #4 — Don’t Use Electricity When You’re Not Using It

Unfortunately, most of us keep things plugged in for hours or even days between the times we actually use them. This includes TVs, computers, DVD players, DVRs, Xbox and Playstation consoles, our air conditioning or heating (when we are out), toaster ovens, and much more. These things are then using electricity even when you are not using them. I’ve read that DVRs and gaming consoles are especially electricity needy even when not in use.

Simply unplug these things when you aren’t going to use them for several hours or perhaps even days. (And, in the case of the AC or heating, turn it off when you are going to be out for awhile.) If you’re concerned this is too complicated for you, there are several energy-saving plugs out there that can help you to cut this standby electricity usage without you doing a thing.

How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #5 — Have An Old Fridge? Ditch It

Old refrigerators (like the one you might have in your garage) are huge energy hogs. If you’ve got one of these around “just because it would be a waste not to use it,” perhaps it’s time to realize that it is a waste using it. Get rid of it.

In fact, if you have multiple fridges of any age, consider scaling back to just one. Refrigerators are big energy consumers. They eat up electricity like Homer Simpson eats up donuts. Chances are, you need much less space in the refrigerator than you think. Look into it, give it some thought, and scale back.

If you just have one refrigerator but it’s really old, you may still end up saving money by upgrading to a new one. Look into it. Do the math. Or at least have a math-loving friend do it for you.

How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #6 — Upgrade

For the most part, new appliances and electronics are much more energy efficient. If you’ve got a really old ______, it may save you money to finally upgrade. This goes for TVs, refrigerators, computers, and much more. Naturally, of course, with an upgrade you also get a newer, better product. Who doesn’t love that?

Again, this option requires doing a bit of math to see if the new product or products is/are worth the investment. But a little math is fun, so give it a shot!

One upgrade you probably haven’t yet done and which is likely to save you a lot of money is getting a learning thermostat. These new thermostats are an excellent way to save a lot of electricity and money without doing anything.

A bunch of other upgrades you can incorporate to lower your electric bill can be found here and here.

How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #7 — Move

Moving isn’t always the best option to solve your household problems, but sometimes it is. Moving into a smaller place or moving to a newer and more energy-efficient place could be a good solution for you. Give it some serious thought. Moving can also provide you with an opportunity to make numerous life changes you’ve been waiting to make. It’s a great opportunity for starting fresh and doing a lot of things you’ve been putting off for too long.
These are my top 7 suggestions for how to lower your electric bill. Give them a shot!

Have more? Please chime in with your suggestions in the comments below!


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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.



  • Beth Geller

    In an apartment building that is old the refrigerator is not energy efficient. Where there is an older stove that is electric and heating that is called Zone heating that is not controlled by the tenant the electric bills are crazy high.

  • kousthub

    because this is india

    • Bob_Wallace

      What does India have to do with anything? Energy works the same everywhere.

      I spend part of every year in SEA and South Asia. What I’m not seeing is people adding insulation as they add air conditioning. It would probably be cheaper to reduce cooling needs than to overcome heat with brute force.

  • kousthub

    ok it is right to save electricity but people they will understand not at all

  • kousthub

    woww

  • alex

    is there someone that can come to my house to discuss my energy savings

    • Bob_Wallace

      Might want to indicate where you live.

      Countries matter. Areas matter.

  • Andrew Miles

    Great read! Our family hasn’t cut ours down to $5 yet, but hopefully we will get there one day. PowerInnovator (go to POWERINNOVATOR.INFO) has reduced my family’s electric bill by almost 50% – my wife and I couldn’t be happier about seeing that one on the news! 🙂

    PS: Washing your laundry with only cold water will also save you about $200 a year.

  • JessAskin

    Wonderful tips! I have been using number 3 (washing laundry using ONLY cold water) for two years now and it truly works. PowerInnovator (http://WWW.POWERINNOVATOR.INFO) has also helped to cut my family’s electric bill almost 50% – my wife and I couldn’t be happier about seeing that one on the news! 🙂 Thanks for the great tips; she’ll love reading this!

  • You hit on the two major consumers of home energy. HVAC and refrigeration. Great article!!

    Insulation and better windows would have been good advice for keeping heat in and cold out (or visa-versa).

  • JM

    Doing all this cost so much, is it really worth it?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Does it make sense to spend a dime in order to save a dollar?

      You’ll need to do the math for each of the seven for yourself. Whether a move will pay for itself will depend on local costs for power, etc.

  • darknesscrown

    I’ve been using LEDs since 2009-ish. Since spending the money, which was, in total, about $1500 (because I started buying when they were still expensive), I don’t think I’ve had an electric bill that has exceeded $25 in a single month…and that is a HEAVY UTILIZATION month. I’ve probably averaged about $17 a month for electricity with LEDs and conserving electricity use (i.e., when I leave a room, I turn off the lights).
    People who light their homes and leave rooms lit that they aren’t in are willfully flushing money down the toilet. And, as mentioned, CFLs are terrible for the environment. Worse than incandescent, actually. Good luck trying to ship CFLs across state lines if you move, for example. Guess what. You can’t. It’s illegal.
    There is no legitimate or practical reason for anyone to continue using CFLs or incandescent lighting in their homes at all now. In 2014, the average cost for an LED bulb is like $5 a bulb. It pays for itself in how little energy it requires and how long it lasts.

    • Bob_Wallace

      ” CFLs are terrible for the environment. Worse than incandescent, actually”

      LEDs are great, but let’s keep it real.

      If your grid has an appreciable amount of coal generation a lot more mercury is going to be spread around than if you took your CFL outside and smashed it on the sidewalk.

      If you recycle your CFLs then no mercury makes it to the environment.

      And (as a LED user/purchaser) I think you’re a bit low on your LED price. Taking a quick look at Home Depot I see 60 watt equivalent LEDs selling for $10. 100 watt equivalent LEDs are about $20.

  • Energy conservation is definitely a good place to start. I especially like the advice about unplugging those “energy vampires” that constantly use electricity. Solar is a great way to not only reduce energy bills, but also reduce the costs to our environment.

  • Dan

    I save on electric by using Ambit Energy

    http://ambitfutures.myambit.com/rates-and-plans

  • xboxman

    if we all would super insulate our homes we would not need much if any heat or A/C

    • Wayne Williamson

      insulation is very important…probably near the top. One thing to keep in mind is that every watt used in a house needs to be gotten rid of. For mid latitude places like the gulf coast, that mean you have to use at least the amount of energy you consume to just cool.

    • Marylandmom

      Agree. I converted a garage to living space and “double studded” the walls – i.e., simply adding an extra layer of 2x4s and an extra layer of rolled insulation. Amazing – the room has no independent heating/cooling and it stays comfortable year round!

  • Roy I.

    I am a huge proponent of going solar, but going solar should not be at the top of this list. You should do everything you can to reduce your electric bill before going solar. Most conservation measures are far more cost effective than going solar.

    • RobS

      Check again. That was true 5 years ago, however the remarkable cost reductions in solar, over 50% in the last 12 months, means that now solar is more cost effective than many efficiency measures. Certainly there are some that are still undoubtedly still worth putting in place however many of the more expensive efficiency measures are now less cost effective than solar and the statement “you should do everything you can to reduce electricity use before going solar” is now no longer accurate.

    • Dan Kegel

      True! Switching to LEDs should come before switching to solar. It’ll reduce the size of the solar system you need to get.

      And pro tip: don’t get an electric hot tub heater right after getting a solar electric system. It’ll seriously harsh your mellow.

  • juxx0r

    Close the curtains to help keep the heat out.
    Shade windows with trees
    Get some eaves
    Plant grass instead of paving
    Turn the water heater setting down in summer
    Use outside temperatures to heat and cool the house by opening windows when appropriate
    Use power intensive appliances off peak; dishwashers, washing machines, driers, pool pumps

    • RobS

      Perversely if you have solar in an area with a low FiT you are better off running power intensive appliances in the middle of the day to maximise self consumption.

  • Shane

    But there are things like the cooking Stove elements which can’t be changed to lower the power bills; you can only go so far to lower the power bill. Then there the Air-conditioning unit power intensive, things like changing light, TV and so on are really small power usage things. If we over come things like the stove, air conditioning, central heating, hot water, I would agree with you. But solar power will never deliver the energy required to power my home given these loads.

    • RobS

      Get your last bill, what is the average daily kWh consumed? I have electric heating and an electric stove and my 3kwh solar system produces about 50% of my total power consumption, I have recently upgraded my hot water system from electric element to electric heat pump and whilst it is early days yet looks like it has halved power used for water heating which should increase my solar to over 70% of total power, I plan t swap more of my halogen downlights out for LEDs which should take that up to ~80% and I may update my heating to a newer more efficient heat pump which should take me up to 90+% solar powered. All that from a 3kwh system which cost me $5,500 and looks like saving me ~$1,200 per year. Solar can provide the power for a home even where it has electric cooking, heating, AC and hot water. Also theres no need to target 100%, the important metric is return on investment, a smaller array might only cut your power bill by 30% but it wont cost much and therefore the return on investment is still excellent.

      • Neil

        How did you get a 3kw system installed for only $5500? And how much should a 3kw system produce on avg monthly?

        • RobS

          That’s actually slightly expensive for solar here in Australia but I live on the small island of Tasmania and we don’t quite get the cheapest prices available on the mainland where they are now at ~$1.50/watt. My system averages about 12Kwh a day and our power tariff is $0.28/kWh therefore I produce around $100 per month or $1,200 per year.

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