14 (Cheap) Ways to Hack Your Energy Bill
Looking to reduce your impact on the environment while lowering your home energy bill? Who isn’t! Many people are surprised to learn that it’s not their car that’s the biggest contributor to their carbon footprint, it’s their home. As you may have guessed, heating and cooling make up a whopping 50% of a home’s energy usage to boot.
The average US household spends $2,200 annually on energy bills, so even if climate change isn’t something that worries you, energy efficiency should.
If you’re thinking you need to fork out the cash for solar panels and geothermal heating systems just to make a difference, you’d be mistaken. Yes, those investments pay off in the long run, but it’s a lot easier to start off with small things you can do with little to no cost.
Zap that energy bill today with some of these simple household hacks!
1. Use the Dishwasher
Surprised? Contrary to popular belief, using a full load in the dishwasher is more energy-efficient that washing all those dishes by hand. Pair this with a Energy Star rated dishwasher, and the savings are even bigger.
2. Wash in Cold, and Hang Dry
When at all possible, use cold water to wash clothes. This drastically saves energy over using warm and especially hot water. Also, if you can hang dry your clothes; you’re wallet will thank you later.
3. Change Your Bulbs
This is already pretty common practice by now, but if you haven’t caught up to 2017 and switched to LED lights, it will be worth your while.
4. Go EZ on the AC
This one should go without saying, but simply using your AC less by keeping it off or not letting it work too hard when it’s on can go a long way. In the winter, it’s a lot more cost efficient to wear a jacket than it is to turn up the AC a couple more degrees!
4. Watch Your Windows
The gaps around windows and doors can be the same as having a 3 x 3 foot hole in your wall, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. That means a lot of lost cold or hot air that you paid for. Good insulation is king here, but even just caulking and weatherstripping those crevices will help dramatically.
5. Always Buy Energy Efficient Appliances
Keep an eye out for Energy Star certified appliances as they required to meet much higher efficiency standards.
6. Use Your Fans
Ceiling fans can do a great job of circulating air around the house so the air conditioning doesn’t need to work so hard, but leaving them on when you’re gone can eliminate their benefits pretty quickly. Turn them off when you leave the house.
7. Swamp Your House
Since we live in a dry climate in the San Gabriel Valley, using a swamp cooler can be beneficial as it uses less energy than an AC to get cool moisture into the air.
8. Water Heater Woes
Most water heaters come set to 140 degrees, but tends to be overkill. Turn yours down to 120 and you’ll still have plenty of hot water, and plenty more money at the end of the month. Want to save even more? Install a tankless water heater next time you want to upgrade, just don’t take longer showers!
9. Fireplace Mistakes
Fireplaces have the seldom recognized disadvantage of allowing air to escape your home. If you have a damper that can close this airflow, use it whenever there’s not a cozy fire in there.
10. Dust Your Ducts
Allowing your HVAC to run in tip top condition will save you energy costs, so make sure you clean the vents and ducts on a regular basis according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
11. Install Awnings and Plant Shrubs
Retractable awnings and overhangs do a great job of controlling the amount of direct sunlight enters the house, and evergreen shrubs planted near the foundation can actually provide a decent amount of insulation from the weather all year long.
12. Plant More Trees!
A cool little tree hack you can do is plant leafy trees on the south side of your home where the sun shines from. In the summer, the trees will help shade the house, and in the winter, the leafless trees will allow sun to come in and warm up the rooms, saving you utility costs.
13. Make Your Home Smarter
Upgrading to internet-connected appliances, thermostats, and dimmers and timers that can be controlled from a smartphone or tablet is invaluable to saving on energy costs.
14. Unplug What’s Unused
We all tend to leave household electronics plugged in, but it may be worth your while to make the habit of unplugging them. Up to 75% of electricity used to power those electronics happens when they’re turned off! If you’re looking to make it easier on yourself, use smart power strips that make it easy to turn off multiple household electronics at the same time, and set timers to turn them off at night.