I once had a neighbor whose electric meter spun about eight times faster than mine—even when she wasn’t home! I couldn’t imagine what kind of gadgets she was running to consume all that electricity, but I imagine it must have cost her a bundle! If your meter is spinning out of control, here are seven easy ways to save money on a pricey electricity bill.
Even if you’re not on the green-movement bandwagon, you might want to look into buying energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) just to save money on electricity. True, CFLs cost a bit more than regular bulbs, but they consume a third of the power and last up to 10 times as long; that’s good news for the Earth and your wallet.
If your hot water heater is electric, it could account for up to twenty percent of your monthly electric bill. There are, however, several things you can do to reduce the money spent on electricity for hot water. (And don’t worry; they don’t involve taking cold showers!)
First, make sure your water heater is wrapped in a good hot water jacket. which insulates the tank. They’re only $10-$20, so even if you’re renting, offer to pay for one if your landlord will slap it on the tank for you. Next, wash your clothes with cold water whenever possible. While hot water is good for really dirty loads, it can also shrink and fade clothes; usually cold water does laundry just fine.
Finally, ensure that you do laundry and dishes efficiently. Don’t run half loads in the washer or dishwasher if you can help it, and learn to air dry your clothes. Yes, it’s not as fast, but you’ll learn to love not only the electricity you save, but also
the crisp and unwrinkled feel of your clothes.
Heating, cooling, and cooking make up about 50% of household energy use. To save on your electricity, go easy on the AC or use a programmable thermostat to start cooling the air a few hours before you get home from work and to go off as the air cools at night and you go to bed.
Ceiling fans and attic fans are great at circulating the air, which can make your home feel many degrees cooler.
Large appliances like your refrigerator, stove, and microwave are other big consumers of electricity. Your fridge can account for 20% of household electricity use. Replacing old appliances with newer energy efficient models may seem like a big expense, but it can pay for itself in a few years. Set your fridge and freezer to lower (warmer) settings and make sure that the doors seal properly.
Note: I’ve been hearing a lot lately about unplugging appliances and electronics while you’re gone because they actually drain power even when they’re off. I was skeptical, so I dug around a bit. I found it to be true: Anything that’s plugged in will drain some juice, even when it’s turned off. Turns out, however, that the amount of power is so low that unplugging everything when you’re not home is unlikely to save you more than a dollar on you next electric bill.
Finally, installing low-flow shower heads, toilets, and faucets can reduce your overall hot water usage. Shower heads start at less that $20.
How do you save money on electricity? Do you have any sneaky frugal tips I didn’t mention?
Published or updated on September 3, 2008
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Category: Personal Finance