It’s no secret – heating and cooling are significant contributors to high energy costs. However, you might be surprised to learn that other factors can affect your electric bill. Appliances, electronics and even your daily habits play a role. But with a bit of awareness and some slight adjustments, you can save money and conserve energy.
Keep reading to learn more about ways to reduce your monthly electric bill.
Understanding Your Electric Bill
Before jumping into ways to lower your electric bill, you should understand the different parts of your bill or what you’re paying for each month. Your electric bill typically includes a breakdown of your energy usage, the cost per unit (kWh) and other additional charges.
One key factor to focus on is your energy consumption. Your bill should show how much electricity you used during the billing period. Consumption is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Knowing your usage patterns can help you identify opportunities to save energy and cut costs.
Another factor is the cost per kWh. The electricity rates may vary depending on your location, the time of day, or the type of energy being used (i.e., conventional or renewable). Make sure you know the rate you’re being charged, as some providers offer different pricing plans that could be a better fit for your usage patterns.
Also, examine any additional charges and fees included in your bill. These could consist of service fees, demand charges and or taxes. Some of these charges are fixed and unavoidable, but others may vary based on your usage habits.
When you understand each aspect of your electric bill, it becomes easier to identify ways to lower your overall costs. You can start by assessing your energy consumption and looking for ways to improve efficiency, such as upgrading appliances, sealing air gaps or even considering solar power. Remember, putting a little effort into understanding your bill can go a long way in helping you save money on electricity.
Assessing Your Electricity Usage
After understanding what’s in your electric bill, the next step is to get an idea of how much energy you consume.
Monitoring Household Activities
To lower your electric bill, start by monitoring your daily household activities and the appliances you use most often. Pay attention to energy-intensive tasks, such as laundry, cooking and air conditioning usage. Becoming aware of your energy usage can help you identify areas for improvement and make smarter decisions about conserving electricity.
Understanding Peak and Off-Peak Hours
Electricity rates can vary throughout the day, with higher prices during peak hours and lower rates during off-peak hours. Familiarize yourself with your utility’s peak and off-peak hours, and try to shift some of your energy usage to the off-peak periods. For example, run your dishwasher or do your laundry during these times to save on your energy costs.
Comparing Your Energy Costs to Other Households
Take a look at your monthly electricity bill and compare your energy usage to the national average. At the time of publication, it was roughly 1000 kWh/month. This comparison helps you determine if you are using more energy than necessary and where you can make adjustments.
Conducting Home Energy Audits
A professional home energy audit can help identify hidden sources of energy loss in your home. During the audit, an assessor may use equipment such as blower doors, infrared cameras, and surface thermometers to pinpoint areas for improvement. By addressing these issues, you can lower your energy usage and reduce your electric bill.
How to Lower Your Electric Bill
Now, you’re ready to take the necessary actions to lower your electric bill. Here’s what to do next:
Identify Energy-Draining Appliances
Determine which appliances in your home are consuming the most energy. Appliances like air conditioners, water heaters and ovens can be major culprits. Make a list of these high-energy devices, and consider upgrading them to more energy-efficient models.
Reduce Energy Consumption During Peak Hours
Be mindful of your energy usage during peak hours. Peak hours are typically in the afternoon and early evening when electricity demand is at its highest in most households. Adjust your thermostat during these hours to conserve energy. Also, avoid using large appliances like washing machines and ovens during this time.
Use Energy-efficient Appliances
Invest in energy-efficient appliances, such as ENERGY STAR-certified products, which consume less energy than traditional appliances. Although these appliances may have a higher upfront cost, they will help you save a bundle over time.
Reduce Vampire Loads
Unplug devices not in use to avoid idle power consumption or vampire loads. Chargers, computers and televisions are devices that can draw power even when idle.
Maximize Natural Light and Switch to LEDs
Utilize natural light in your home whenever possible and invest in LED light bulbs. LEDs are more energy-efficient and last longer than incandescent or CFL bulbs.
Get a Smart Thermostat
A smart thermostat can also help minimize energy usage. It automatically changes the temperature according to your preselected settings and daily routine. Some smart thermostats can even tell when you’re away from home and will automatically adjust the temperature for you.
Maintain Your HVAC System
Regular HVAC system maintenance is essential for energy efficiency. Clean or replace your air filters regularly and schedule professional maintenance checks at least once a year.
Employ Smart Cooking Habits
Use energy-efficient cooking techniques like using the right-sized pots for your burners. Also, cover pots while cooking, and use residual heat to finish your meals by turning off the oven a few minutes before your food is done.
Use Cold Water During Laundry and Line Dry
Washing your clothes with cold water can save energy and lower your electricity bill. Hang your garments on a clothesline to dry whenever possible instead of using dryers, as they consume a ton of energy.
Consider Switching to Renewable Energy Sources
Installing solar panels or exploring other renewable energy sources helps reduce your reliance on the grid and lower your electricity bill. Once your system is in place, it can generate energy for years and help you save on energy costs.
The Effects of High Electric Bills
High electric bills can have a significant impact on your financial well-being. When you notice your electric bill increasing over time, it’s essential to understand the reasons behind the spike and what steps you can take to reduce your energy bills.
For starters, high energy bills place a strain on your budget. This can affect your ability to save money for future investments or emergencies and limit your discretionary spending. If you’re consistently spending more money on utilities than planned, you may need to cut back on other expenses to make ends meet.
Steep electric bills can also negatively impact your comfort at home. If you’re constantly worried about the cost of electricity, you might be hesitant to use your heating or cooling system as needed, which can result in an uncomfortable indoor environment. By lowering your electric bill, you’ll be able to maintain your desired temperature at home without the added financial stress.
Another drawback of excessive energy consumption is how it negatively impacts the environment. Using less electricity can help reduce your carbon footprint, leading to a more sustainable way of living.
Does Your Electric Bill Affect Your Credit Score?
Your electric bill can affect your credit score but in a different way than loans or credit cards. In the past, electric bills could only hurt your credit score if you skipped payments and the provider closed your account, enlisting a collection agency to obtain payment. This negative impact would last on your credit report for seven years.
But with recent changes, it’s now possible to use your on-time electric bill payments to improve your credit score. Services like Experian Boost allow you to receive credit on your Experian credit report for timely utility payments, which may help improve your credit score.
Consider signing up for Experian Boost to potentially improve your credit score immediately. It only takes a few minutes, and it’s free. Or you can sign up for a free Experian account to access your credit score.