Electricity customers should always be on the lookout for cheap electricity plans, but there are more ways to save money than to simply buy your electricity for less.
For most, a combination of lower electricity prices and smarter electricity usage leads to the lowest electricity bills overall. We’ve come up with a list of tips to help you save money and conserve electricity so you can make the most of your electricity plan.
Saving Money and Electricity Made Simple
Green efforts can sometimes seem monumental, but the truth is that you can make a huge dent in your electricity usage and electricity bill by making small changes, too.
Those little things will add up to one big thing and you can slowly phase them in so that you don’t have to try to create a lot of new habits all at once, and all of this is a great big win for the environment and for your budget!
Here are some simple, effective ways you can save money and conserve electricity today:
1. Turn off electronics that aren’t in use
You’ve probably heard this one a few times, but that doesn’t make it less true or helpful. Your Blu-ray, television, computer and stereo can be enormous energy vampires when not in use. That little light that stays lit means that these items are still consuming power. By using a shared power strip, it’s easy to turn your television and other video equipment off with one button.
Other equipment may need to remain on for software updates, like your smart TV or Roku, but you can still enable power saving mode when they’re not being used. Go into the settings and change the default to the shortest time before sleep mode takes over to reap the biggest cost savings with these items.
2. Install ceiling fans to get more out of your electric furnace, blower, or air conditioner
Although you can’t use ceiling fans in place of air conditioning in every home or geographical region, you can still take advantage of their ability to boost the reach of your main heating or cooling unit. Ceiling fans are impressively good at circulating both heat and cold, depending on what’s needed at the time. There’s a switch on the motor that will allow your fan to spin either clockwise or counterclockwise. When you need to circulate cold air, run the fan on high in a counterclockwise direction; when you need heat, run it clockwise on low to pull warm air away from the ceiling.
3. Clean your filters more often
You see a lot of advice about saving money on electricity that centers on the heating and air conditioning system in your home because it’s one of the biggest electricity draws. The harder that system works, the more power it needs, so you should do everything you can to keep it running smoothly.
Leaving vents open to maximize air flow (it won’t save money to close them anyway, contrary to popular belief) and cleaning those filters on the regular make the most noticeable impact on your HVAC system’s efficiency. The cleaner the filter, the greater the air intake and the better your system will work. Checking those filters weekly and changing or cleaning them when they start to discolor will assure you get the best performance possible.
4. Buy Energy Star appliances
When you see an Energy Star tag on an appliance, it’s not just a gimmick to make you think you’ll save money on electricity, you actually will. Energy Star rated appliances use 10 to 50 percent less electricity than non-Energy Star appliances, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Since appliances account for about 20 percent of an average household’s electricity usage, choosing equipment that saves power can really add up to a massive effort to conserve electricity without your having to do anything else. Energy Star washers and dishwashers are also designed to help save water, giving you even bigger benefits over the long term. Energy.gov has a helpful appliance and electronics calculator to estimate how much energy specific devices use.
5. Make your home smarter
Smart homes are gaining in popularity and rightfully so. Many of the smart devices designed for homeowners are secretly really good at helping to conserve electricity. For example, smart thermostats like the Nest Learning Thermostat™ can automatically adjust themselves when you’re not home and have tools to help you track your overall electricity usage.
Smart light bulbs can be set to dim when you’re not home or turn off entirely until you’re nearing the end of your evening commute. Utilizing tools like personalized profiles help even more, and you can even remotely turn lights on and off when they’re not in use.
6. LEDs conserve electricity
LED light bulbs are dropping in price dramatically and this is good for your pocketbook in more ways than one. The average 60 watt equivalent LED only uses nine watts of electricity, where your average CFL (compact fluorescent light) of the same equivalency uses 13 watts. That might not seem like a lot, but that’s a full 30% reduction in electricity usage per LED bulb. When you consider the number of light bulbs in your house, that’s a cost savings that cannot be ignored. LEDs also outlast CFLs on average, making them an even better value.
7. Plant strategically
No matter if your peak energy use is in summer or winter, there’s a lot of value to planting trees and shrubs in smart locations. For example, if you’re interested in adding some shade trees in an area with hot summers, placing them on the west side of your home can block a lot of the hottest sun of the day and makes it easier for your air conditioner to keep up.
Shading your outdoor air conditioning condenser is also a smart way to save money. The cooler it is, the less it has to work to cool your home’s air supply. In the north, you may way to leave your west-facing windows unblocked to allow as much sun as possible to penetrate windows and increase your indoor air temperature.
8. Call your local utility for an energy audit
You may think that you’re already doing so much to conserve electricity that there’s nothing left to do, but you’re wrong. There’s always something that can be improved since no home is 100 percent efficient.
An energy audit is a great way to have a professional look your home over and find even more ways that you can save money on electricity. By utilizing thermal cameras and other specialized equipment, they can determine where your home is leaking air or lacks sufficient insulation and give suggestions for improvement. Energy audits are a very affordable way to save money on electricity and many local utilities provide this service for little or no cost.
9. Saving money with the right electricity plans
Even if your home conserves as much electricity as possible, there are other ways to save money on electricity in deregulated states. The electricity plan you choose, along with when you choose it, can make a big impact. Cheap electricity works just as well as the expensive kind and it pays to put some effort into picking the right plan. See The Basics: How to Shop for an Electricity Plan for more information.
10. Take advantage of smart meters
Many electricity providers are moving to smart meters, a tool that not only makes it easier for them to take readings but helps you save money also. The regular reports that smart meters create, based on your overall electricity use, can help you figure out what appliances or habits are spiking usage during costly times of the day or increasing your electricity usage overall. For example, using the oven during the day in the heat of the summer can drive air conditioning costs through the roof, but if you use it during the cool evening instead, your air conditioner will have an easier time keeping the house cool and use less electricity in the effort. Many electricity providers now offer electricity usage reports to their customers based on their smart meter data.
11. Timing long-term electricity contracts appropriately
The cost of electricity plans can vary widely throughout the year, and although you may need a plan in August, it’s generally the worst time to lock your rate particularly in the South. If you’re able to choose a short-term plan that will get you to October or November, you may be able to save up to around two cents per kilowatt hour. That’s a savings that can really add up over the year or two of a long-term electricity contract. Historically, however, the best time to move into a long-term electricity contract is early to mid-spring because this is when prices are the lowest.
12. Comparison shop your electricity plans carefully
No matter when you buy your electricity plan, it pays to comparison shop. You may find that new offerings or shorter term electricity plans offer better rates than longer term offerings. Many electricity plans also offer incentives to sign up, especially if you’ve never had one before, or lower rates to new customers.
There are many ways to save money and conserve electricity without working too hard at it. You’ll notice that your bill drops dramatically once you implement better electricity habits and choose a cheap electricity plan.