In our current world of connectivity and technology, power use is at an all-time high. This applies as much to our houses as to our offices and public spaces. Over the course of a year, your electricity costs can really stack up because of your devices, lights, hot water, and even laundry habits. This is especially true in Texas, where we can experience some pretty extreme weather.
At Electricity Club, we want to help you cut your electricity costs and have a little more money left in your bank account at the end of the year. In this article, we explore 12 different tricks that help you limit your electricity use and lower your bills. While some of these tips only provide modest cost reductions, in combination with others, they can result in serious savings. Keep reading to learn how you can create a more sustainable and efficient home.
Let the Sun In
One of the easiest and most obvious ways to reduce your electricity use is to go a little old-fashioned. Instead of keeping your lights on all day, try opening up your curtains or shades and letting in a little natural light. This is a great way to reduce your use of lighting, which is a significant contributor to annual electricity costs. In addition, natural light is often more pleasant and less harsh on your eyes than artificial lighting. This can sometimes lead to better moods and less stress.
This method works best if you have north- and south-facing windows. As we all know, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, meaning that windows that face in these directions often get a lot of direct sunlight. This can sometimes be a little intense, which is why north- and south-facing windows are your best bet. They allow plenty of light in while keeping things a little more relaxed. If you’re worried about privacy, consider getting some semitransparent curtains that can let in the light without letting people see into your house.
Replace Your Old Bulbs
While we’re on the subject of lighting, it’s important to realize that some bulbs are more efficient than others. If your house uses old-fashioned incandescent bulbs, there’s a good chance that they’re leading to some energy inefficiency. One of the best alternatives to incandescent and CFL bulbs is LED lighting. For starters, LEDs emit light in a single direction, meaning that their energy is more efficiently spent. Other types of bulbs require diffusers and reflectors to direct the light, meaning that much of the energy is lost in the process.
LED lighting also releases very little heat compared to other types of bulbs. CFLs and incandescent bulbs release the vast majority of their energy as heat, making them less efficient. Finally, LEDs last longer, meaning that you’ll get more bang for your buck and reduce waste.
Invest in Smarter Thermostats and Power Strips
Companies now produce a wide variety of tools that can automatically monitor and adjust your energy use and save you money. Two of the most popular are smart thermostats and smart power strips. With most thermostats, you have to manually set your desired temperature and schedule adjustments based roughly on your schedule. A smart thermostat can do much of this work on its own while creating a more balanced interior temperature. These devices can monitor your schedule, adjust temperatures accordingly, and fine-tune the indoor temperature to save you and your family money.
Smart power strips are another fantastic investment for those looking to monitor their energy usage. While traditional power strips can increase your total number of available outlets, they may also keep you from unplugging devices when not in use. Like other power strips, smart power strips serve as a centralized hub for plugging in multiple devices to a single outlet. Unlike old-fashioned strips, they can automatically detect when devices aren’t in use and disable the power supply.
Change Your Laundry Habits
Although you might not have considered it, the way you do laundry can impact your home’s overall energy use. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to make your laundry habits more efficient. The first and easiest step is to do laundry less often. Try to schedule specific laundry days and make sure that you’re always washing full loads for maximum efficiency. Your dryer also uses plenty of energy, so make sure to do a full load every time you use it. If you’re looking for major savings, you could even ditch the dryer and air dry your clothes.
As you probably know, your hot water heater is another major electricity hog. Because of this, it’s best to use cold water whenever possible. Try to wash most of your clothes in cold water and save the hot water for especially stubborn stains and showers. This can provide serious savings over the course of a year.
Weatherize and Insulate Your Home
In order to create an energy-efficient home, it’s important to make sure it’s not “leaky.” If all of your heat or A/C is slipping out, you’ll have trouble reducing your energy consumption and staying comfortable. One of the best ways to do this is by ensuring that all your windows and doors seal properly when closed. You can also make sure that the frames are intact and well-fitting. There are many contractors who can help you weatherproof your house in this way if you’re having trouble.
Another important consideration is your home’s insulation. A good insulating layer within your walls can keep your house warmer in the winter, making it easier to cut back on heat usage. Good insulation can also make keep your house cooler in the summer months. If you’re interested in this method, there are a wide variety of manufacturers who make energy-efficient insulation.
Turn Off and Unplug
One of the simplest ways to reduce energy consumption is by turning off your devices when they’re not in use. Try not to leave your TV on in the background or keep your computer running when not in use. This can reduce energy consumption and can also give you a little break from the noise of electronic devices.
Even when turned off, electrical devices can still draw a lot of power. Some appliances actually use most of their power when not in use. To combat this, try to unplug fans, TVs, phones, lamps, computers, toasters, amplifiers, and anything else that draws power when you’re not using it. Not using power strips, unless they’re smart and can regulate electricity use, can help with this.
Use Less Hot Water
As we mentioned above, hot water can be a major “energy vampire.” It takes quite a bit of power to heat your water in the first place, so try to keep hot water use to a minimum. While we already discussed laundry, there are many other ways to waste hot water, and the most obvious is daily showers.
Texas can get pretty hot during the summer, so consider taking cool or cold showers in the warm months. Aside from saving you money, this can be quite refreshing. Some experts even believe that it can provide health benefits. If you’re not quite ready to jump under the cold water, you can start by shortening your daily showers.
Besides your bathroom, your kitchen is probably the biggest user of hot water. This is especially true when washing dishes. An automatic dishwasher can be convenient, but it also uses a lot of hot water. If possible, consider washing your dishes by hand. Try not to leave the water running and instead fill both wells of your sink, one for washing, and one for rinsing. If you really want to use the dishwasher, try to at least turn off the heated dry and use the shortest cycles.
Think About New Windows and Cover Them Right
If you’ve checked the fit of your windows and frames and are still having efficiency issues, it might be time to consider a whole new set of windows. Over the past few years, many manufacturers have created new window technologies that focus on efficiency and sustainability. Investing in these products might be a great way to reduce your energy costs over the next few years.
Most energy-efficient windows use a special type of low-emissivity glass. This technology blocks the sun’s rays and provides good insulation, keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. There are also a variety of window coatings that can block UV rays and reduce your energy costs. They also make many windows with multiple panes to achieve the same effect.
Some window companies and contractors are finding new ways to make window frames more efficient. They often use high-density foam instead of metal for window frames, which provides superior insulation and a better barrier between indoor and outdoor air.
Replace Your Air Filters
Your home’s air filters are essential features that keep the interior of your home safe from airborne contaminants. This protects you and your family from dust, pollen, smoke, exhaust, and all the other pollutants that can have adverse health effects. Over time, your air filters can become dirty and clogged, which reduces their effectiveness. This can also hamper your HVAC system and make it more difficult to heat or cool your home. If your heating or A/C is running longer than normal, it might be time to invest in some new air filters.
Get Rid of Old Electronics
Technology is changing rapidly, and it often seems that as soon as you get a new device, it’s almost obsolete. Because of this, many of us end up with an array of old electronics that we no longer use. This might include a landline, a desktop PC, or even a big-screen TV. If you find yourself relying more heavily on your laptop and mobile devices, maybe it’s time to ditch the old ones.
Your landline and desktop can be especially vicious “energy vampires.” In order for them to function, they need to remain constantly plugged in, which can seriously increase your passive electricity consumption. Instead of these older devices, try to lean on your cell phone and laptop. These devices only need to be plugged in for a short while to charge. Plus, they’re more convenient.
Moderate A/C and Heat Use
Even if you don’t have a smart thermostat, it’s still possible to manage your heating and cooling efficiently. Try to set your thermostat so that it’s only working when you’re at home. If you have a regular work schedule, this should be pretty simple and can massively reduce your energy consumption.
Get a Good Fridge
Out of all the appliances in your home, the refrigerator probably does the most work. To keep your food from spoiling, it needs to be constantly plugged in and stay at a steady temperature. Obviously, unplugging this beast isn’t an option, so it’s important to get the most efficient refrigerator possible.
Nowadays, there are a wide variety of efficient refrigerators available for purchase. These appliances often include “energy saver” switches to reduce the fridge’s workload. It’s also important to remember that a top-mounted freezer is generally the most efficient option due to its distance from the condenser. While shopping, try to find a refrigerator that’s ENERGY STAR certified.
That’s a quick overview of 12 different techniques that you can use to reduce your energy use at home. These tricks can provide massive cost reductions over the course of a few months and can also help you reduce your environmental impact. At Electricity Club, we specialize in helping Texas residents find cheap energy plans for their homes. If you’re looking for electricity companies in Texas, head over to our plans and rates comparison to see some of the best deals in the state.
Membership at Electricity Club is free and we’ll use all our bargaining power to get you the lowest electric rates that you won’t find anywhere else. On our site, you can enter your zip code to compare electricity rates and plans across many major providers. We can even help you find a better energy provider for your business. Good luck with your search and we hope to hear from you soon.