At the end of a long cold winter, you are probably feeling the bite of more than the cold weather. Your electric bill can be as bad as frostbite when you are trying to balance your household budget. There isn’t anything to be done about the winter behind you, but as spring comes into full bloom now is the time to make sure that next winter won’t cause your bank account to freeze over.
It is amazing how several small changes can have a big impact on the bottom line of your energy costs. Here are some of the adjustments that you can make over the course of the year to meet your goal of a lower power bill.
Be mindful of peak hours
Although this is not common knowledge, some energy companies will charge more during peak hours because it is more difficult to fully service the grid during those times. By finding out what those hours are and scheduling the operation of large appliances for those non-peak hours you may be able to accomplish the same tasks with a lower bill to show for it.
Unplug unused electronics
This is an easy way to save! Even when not in use or even turned on, high-energy yield appliances such as televisions or computers will continue to bleed electricity so long as they are still plugged into an outlet. Although it can be a minor inconvenience, this small habit can have a large impact on your energy use.
Lower the dial on the hot water tank
How hot does your shower really have to be? If you find yourself unable to turn it up to the highest setting because it is uncomfortably hot, you may be using too much energy to heat your water tank. It is kind of like having a car that can go 180 kph when you know that you are never going to drive above 65, but that car would burn the same amount of gas either way. Turning down that hot water tank to keep the temperature at a comfortably warm level instead of a scalding hot one may be both safe and profitable.
Install energy-efficient lighting
You may have seen the energy-star logo on some certified light bulbs and fixtures. This is more than just a marketing gimmick, but a unit that will give you the same quality of lighting for a much lower cost and in many cases last much longer before it needs to be replaced. Although these savings may only be realized over the long term because of up-front investment, they will pay for themselves quicker than you imagine. If you are in Alberta, these tips will help you to reduce the Alberta electricity rates.
Clean or change HVAC unit filters
If you have centralized air conditioning or heating you need to change the filter on a monthly basis during times of heavy use and need to do a monthly inspection of the filter even for a month where you never used it at all. Failure to take this simple step will make the unit work much harder to provide the same amount of cooling during the summer or heat during the wintertime.
The kitchen is full of opportunities to save
You would be surprised how much of your total energy bill is spent in the kitchen. Some steps that you can take to remedy this include cleaning the coils of the refrigerator, keeping your freezer full, and turning off any icemakers during times of the year when you won’t need them. The electric dishwasher also uses a lot more energy than you would think, and waiting until you have a full load before running it will ensure you run it fewer times throughout the year. Some experts also suggest ending the cycle after the wash cycle has finished to save energy from the drying process, but your results may vary as different models have drip-dry instead of heat dry cycles.
Go old school in the laundry room
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to wash your clothes on a rock in the river, but the washer and dryer are one of the biggest energy hogs in your home. If you are able to purchase a newer energy-efficient model you may not feel the sting as much, but if you aren’t able to there are still some ways you can save.
Like the dishwasher, running it less often is usually the best way to save. This may mean keeping dirty clothes a little longer and running bigger loads, but it can be a more efficient way to do it. Using a cold cycle instead of hot water when possible represents huge energy savings that may be apparent in as little as a month. Better yet, make that number zero during warm months by line-drying clothes outdoors. Also, don’t forget to clean the lint trap in the dryer after every use.
Don’t flush electricity in your bathroom
There are many steps you can take to ensure that your bathroom won’t be an energy waster. It is a prime place for unused electrical devices to be plugged in overnight. It actually only takes a few hours to fully charge a cordless item like a toothbrush or clippers, and investing in other cordless appliances will help cut down on this drain.
If you are not a fan of excessive water pressure in the shower, a simple quality of life improvement may be available in the form of a low-flow showerhead that will save on the water bill in addition to the electric bill. If you use warm water for shaving, using a small water bowl for rinsing instead of running water can also save you a surprising amount. You should also inspect your plumbing system for leaks, especially after a winter freeze. Even smaller leaks can cost you a great deal in terms of wasted water and increased energy costs to pump more water into your pipes.
So those were some of the smarter ways that you can reduce your energy usage and ensure a lower bill at the end of the month. While you may not be able to control certain factors such as energy rate hikes or increasingly inclement weather caused by global climate change, the small changes of this energy audit should reap results throughout the year. At the end of the day, it may be useful to consider a lower cost electricity plan to match these austerity measures.