Electricity powers most things in your house, from the lights to your cell phone. Generally, the more electricity your home uses, the higher your electricity bill. You may experience higher electricity bills during summer and winter when the weather is more extreme.
While you can turn off lights and certain electronics, some appliances, like refrigerators and hot water heaters, run all the time. You can often lower your bill without decreasing your usage just by switching to energy-efficient appliances and products.
1. Assess Your Home’s Energy
A home energy assessment can show you a few corrections that may improve your home’s energy consumption. You can do an assessment yourself or hire a professional. Some utility companies offer a professional assessment for free.
A professional energy assessment can help you determine where you can save energy and where your home is losing energy. It analyzes each room in your home using different equipment, like infrared cameras, surface thermometers, and moisture meters.
While not as thorough as a professional, you can do an energy assessment yourself by walking through your home and checking problem areas.
2. Stop Air Leaks
Air leaks – or drafts – can account for 10 to 20 percent of home energy loss. Well-known places for air leaks include gaps around outside doors, along the baseboard, and windows. But your home can also leak air around lighting fixtures, outlets, pipes, and more.
You can caulk or plug air leaks and add weatherstripping for doors and windows. If you have a fireplace, make sure to keep the damper closed when not in use.
3. Add Insulation
You can lose cool and hot air through your ceiling, walls, and floors. Insulation is a thermal-resistant barrier that obstructs the temperature from leaking out and into your home. Insulation in your attic and walls helps reduce energy loss and heating and cooling costs.
In the summer, it stops the heat from coming into your home and keeps your air conditioning from escaping through surfaces. In the winter, insulation prevents the cold air from cooling your home and keeps the heat inside.
4. Check Your Heating and Cooling System
Many manufacturers recommend inspecting your heating and cooling equipment yearly, but you should check it out before major weather changes, such as summer and winter. A professional can clean your system annually or bi-annually.
Depending on your household, you may need to change your air filter every month or every other month. Homes with more people and pets need replacing more frequently.
If your system is older than 15 years, it may not work as efficiently as it once did. Newer units are almost always more energy-efficient than older models. Some utility companies let you pay for a new system over time and through your monthly bill.
5. Switch to Energy-Efficient Lighting
About 10 percent of your electricity bill comes from your home’s lighting. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs), incandescent, and other energy-saving light bulbs use less electricity to illuminate. Lightbulbs come with a lighting facts label so you can see the product’s energy use, appearance, average lifespan, and estimated annual cost.
6. Add Window Treatments
Window treatments can dress up your room and help reduce your electricity bill. In the summer, blackout curtains block sunlight and heat from entering your home. In the winter, heavy curtains can reduce air leaks and drafts that come through windows.
7. Get a Programmable Thermostat
Heating and cooling your home can take a lot of electricity, especially in extreme weather conditions. Plus, forgetting to turn the temperature up or down before leaving your home for work or school can result in hours of wasted energy. A programmable thermostat can help you ensure your home is at your preferred temperature and your electricity bill is in your control.
Some systems let you adjust your home’s temperature remotely. From your smartphone or computer, you can check and change your home’s energy consumption. For instance, you can make sure members of your household have not left the system running or changed the temperature.