How to Drastically Cut Your Energy Bills Without Making Any Major Lifestyle Changes

How to Drastically Cut Your Energy Bills Without Making Any Major Lifestyle Changes

How to Drastically Cut Your Energy Bills Without Making Any Major Lifestyle Changes

Cutting down on energy bills can seem daunting, but there are many simple ways to reduce energy costs without making drastic lifestyle changes. Here are some of the most effective strategies to drastically cut energy bills:

Audit Your Home’s Energy Use

The first step is conducting an energy audit to identify where you are losing energy and money.

  • Use an online energy calculator to estimate your home’s energy use. Input details like location, size, number of occupants, appliances, etc. This will show your biggest energy drains.

  • Contact your utility company to perform an on-site home energy audit. An expert will inspect areas like insulation, air leaks, heating and cooling systems. Often these audits are low-cost or even free.

  • Consider getting an independent audit from a professional. Though more expensive, they may identify more savings opportunities than a basic utility company audit.

  • Review your utility bills and make notes on when and where you use the most energy. Track usage over time to spot trends.

  • Inspect your home carefully, looking for drafts, inadequate weather-stripping, poor insulation, and old equipment.

The audit will identify your home’s specific energy-wasting trouble spots. This allows you to focus on the changes that will have the biggest impact on savings.

Upgrade Old Appliances and Devices

Appliances and other electrical devices are often major energy hogs. Upgrading to more efficient models can make a significant dent in your energy bills.

  • Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs. LEDs use at least 75% less energy and last far longer. This alone can save hundreds of dollars over their lifespan.

  • Upgrade your refrigerator if it is over 10 years old. New Energy Star refrigerators are much more efficient. Choose the right size for your needs and disable any unnecessary features like in-door ice makers.

  • Swap out old washing machines for an Energy Star model with cold wash settings. Washing in cold water saves electricity otherwise used to heat water. Front loading washers are also more water and energy efficient.

  • Upgrade to a tankless water heater when your current one needs replacing. Tankless heaters only heat water on demand rather than keeping a whole tank hot 24/7.

  • Small appliances like coffeemakers, microwaves and toaster ovens should also be upgraded to Energy Star versions. Unplug any seldom used devices rather than leaving them in standby mode.

Adjust Thermostats

Heating and cooling accounts for a huge chunk of home energy bills. Optimizing your thermostat settings can net big savings.

  • Set thermostats to 78°F in summer and 68°F in winter. You can adjust by a few degrees for comfort as needed. Every degree lower in winter or higher in summer increases costs significantly.

  • Use programmable thermostats to lower heating and raise cooling temperatures when away from home or sleeping. New smart thermostats make this easy and convenient.

  • Run a programmable or smart thermostat in heat mode instead of emergency heat mode. Emergency heat uses supplemental electric resistance heaters which are incredibly expensive to run.

  • Use thermostat geofencing which automatically adjusts the temperature based on your smart phone’s location. When everyone leaves the house, the heating or cooling is automatically set back to save energy.

  • Make sure your HVAC system gets yearly maintenance. Dirty filters and unbalanced refrigerant levels strain systems and waste energy.

Weatherize and Insulate

Stopping air leaks and heat transfer is an effective way to boost efficiency. Proper weatherization and insulation also increases comfort.

  • Add weather stripping around doors and windows to seal any gaps letting in outside air. Quality materials like metal, vinyl, and foam last for years.

  • Caulk cracks and openings in walls, ceilings, pipes, and other exterior penetrations. Areas around vents, fixtures, and wiring often need fresh caulk.

  • Inspect insulation levels in attics, basements and walls. Add insulation if needed to meet the recommended R-value for your climate. Blown-in types are easy to install in unfinished spaces.

  • Make sure attic access hatches and doors to unheated garages or porches are tightly sealed and insulated. These are common sources of energy loss.

  • Install storm windows over single pane windows, which have very poor insulation. Low-e coatings on storm windows reflect heat back inside.

  • Use blackout curtains and keep curtains closed at night in winter. During the day, only open curtains on south facing windows to let in solar heat.

Shift Usage to Non-Peak Hours

Electricity costs fluctuate based on demand throughout the day. You can save by shifting flexible uses to off-peak hours when rates are lower.

  • Run major appliances like washers, dryers and dishwashers at night after 9 pm or before 5 am on weekday mornings. Weekend and holiday mornings are also generally off-peak.

  • Set pool pumps and other high demand devices to run early in the morning or late evening during off-peak hours if possible.

  • Charge electric vehicles overnight when electricity demand is lower. Many electric companies offer special EV charging rates.

  • If your utility company charges time-of-use rates, you can save by programming smart appliances and thermostats to run during the cheaper off-peak windows.

Conclusion

With some low-cost upgrades and simple habit changes, you can drastically cut energy bills without overhauling your lifestyle. Begin by auditing where energy dollars are being wasted in your home. Identify and upgrade old appliances and devices to more efficient models. Optimize thermostat settings and improve weatherization. Finally, shift flexible usage to non-peak hours. Investing a little time and money into energy efficiency measures can yield huge savings over time.