While home ownership is the best investment you’ll ever make, utility bills can add up in a hurry, especially for bigger families or sizable homes. But the good news is that there are simple strategies and fixes to lower your electricity, heating and cooling, and water costs significantly every month – and help the planet in the process.
Here are our favorite ways to reduce on energy and utility bills around the house:
Refrigerators with automatic ice makers use about 14-50% more energy than models without them.
Don’t store things on top of your fridge – it will block the heat that’s escaping from the unit and cause it to break sooner.
Likewise, if you put hot food items in your fridge, the unit will have to work harder to cool them, using more energy.
Even food and drinks that are left uncovered in the fridge cause it to use more energy since they cause condensation.
When looking for a refrigerator, choose an Energy Star qualified model, which will use 15% less energy than most models.
Scrape your dishes free of food but skip the rinsing – it’s unnecessary since the dishwasher will handle that, and uses up to 20 gallons more of water.
Do you sometimes feel bad about using a dishwasher when you can be handwashing dishes, which doesn’t take any energy? Don’t! In fact, hand washing is actually more expensive in the long run because it uses far more water.
But wait until the dishwasher is full before running it, which save you about 400 gallons of water every month!
Speaking of saving water, Energy Star dishwashers will save you about 5,000 gallons of water per year!
The vast majority of energy used during the laundry process comes from the dryer, so hang clothes up to dry in the sun or even on a line in the basement during winter months.
Washing clothes with cold water saves you money and extends the life of your water heater, and you really won’t be able to tell the difference.
In fact, about 90% of the energy used in the washing process comes from just heating the water!
Instead of dryer sheets, try putting a tennis ball or two in with drying clothes. They use less energy than sheets, speed drying time, and are reusable.
Installing an AAA-rated shower head (only about $30) will save the typical family about $1,000 in water bills every month!
For energy savings, skip the bath and take a shower, instead. The average bath uses 35 gallons of water, but showers only use 12 gallons on average.
Flush only when necessary – up to 30% of all water usage in the home comes from the toilet.
Switch to a high-efficiency toilet or set it up to use less water per flush, which can save the typical family $2,000 in water bills over the lifetime of the toilets."
Or you can simply fill a few water bottles with sand and sink them in the tank. It will fill up less and use less water per flush.
Did you know that water from faucets accounts for 1 trillion gallons of water use every year, just in the U.S.? That’s enough to fill 1,514,165,013 Olympic swimming pools! So it’s important to fix leaking faucets, be mindful of water use, and converse wherever necessary.
For most families, about 30% of their total monthly energy use comes from the water heater.
Even something simple like wrapping your water heater in an insulated blanket can reduce energy costs by 5-15%.
And a programmable timer will save you $25-$75 each year.
Lowering your water heater to the 120-degree setting can save you up to $450 annually.
Replacing only your five most-used light bulbs in your home with CFL Bulbs can reduce your energy bill by about $65 per year. Imagine how much you’ll save if you do that in the entire house!
How important is it to turn off lights when you leave a room or aren’t home? Just one 60-watt light bulb burning 8 hours a day can cost you an additional $15 per year – per bulb.
In fact, lighting accounts for about 25% of your entire electric bill.
Your electronics and media appliances may seem like an afterthought when it comes to energy use, but they can add up to some big electric bills.
In fact, 75% of energy consumed by electronics is when they are turned off!
Believe it or not, it costs $165-$200 per year just to power an entertainment center that is turned off. Imagine how expensive it can get when you leave electronics turned on.
To prevent what’s called “phantom loads” or electricity use when electronics are off, unplug any device that has a light or digital readout when not in use.
Heating and cooling
Of course, cranking up the AC is a needed relief I hot summer months, but we tend to over and misuse our aircons, wasting energy and money.
In fact, just a single window air-conditioning unit costs at least $.50 every hour to run.
While a ceiling fan or plug-in fan only costs $.02 to $.03 per hour.
When it comes to whole-house AC, using a programmable thermostat and adjusting settings as needed can lower your electric bill b about 20%.
Just replacing the air filter on your AC once a month during high-use seasons can reduce your bill by up to 5%.
Plant trees for shade in front of windows and doors on the side of the house that gets the most sun. Sacramento even has a program that provides shade trees for free.
Caulking or filling leaks around doors and windows can reduce your energy costs by 15-30%!