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Is your electricity bill unpredictable from month to month or too high? Follow these steps to lower your electricity bill this winter.
(1) Complete an Energy Audit
To understand how to save money on your electric bill, you need to know how much electricity is being used by devices in your home.
Have you heard of vampire energy? This term refers to devices that consume energy even when they are turned off. Even devices that have a sleep or standby mode consume electricity whenever they are plugged into an outlet.
Some common vampire energy culprits include:
- Computers, monitors, and printers
- Video game consoles
- Satellite and cable boxes
- Chargers for cell phones, tablets, and laptops
To calculate consumption by the kilowatt-hour, you can use an electricity monitor. After you determine how much energy your devices are using, you may decide that some should be unplugged when not in use.
Use an infrared sensor to measure hot and cold surface temperatures and find energy leaks from inadequate insulation.
(2) Use Surge Protector Power Strips
Rather than manually unplugging each device that consumes energy when off or in standby mode, you can use a surge protector power strip. This can help consolidate your devices and make it easier to shut off power at the same time.
(3) Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
Although CFL bulbs cost more to purchase than incandescent bulbs, you can reduce your electric bill over time because they are more efficient. They also last longer.
(4) Use Motion-Sensing Lights
LED motion-sensing nightlights can be installed in hallways, stairways, bathrooms, and closets. In addition to increasing safety in your home, these lights can limit using lamps and overhead lights in areas that you’re passing through at night.
Another helpful way to save energy and automate lights in your home is to use lights with programmable occupancy and vacancy sensors. Lights with occupancy sensors detect when someone is in a room and turn on and off automatically. Vacancy sensors require you to manually turn on lights and turn off automatically after a set time.
(5) Limit Airflow from Outdoors
Air leaks throughout the home are sources of heat loss during cold winter months. According to the Department of Energy, you could potentially save between 5-30 percent per year by reducing drafts in your home.
Stop Drafts Under Doors and Around Windows
Although it’s best to keep curtains closed at night during winter months, they should be opened during the day for windows that receive a good amount of sunlight.
Insulating windows with clear shrink film will help block drafts and air leaks during cold months. Alternatively, you can use sheets of bubble wrap. The bubble wrap will stick to glass that has been lightly sprayed with water.
Using draft stoppers keep heat or air conditioning inside by blocking outdoor airflow under doors and at the bottom of windows.
Stop Drafts from Chimney
A chimney flue should be inspected annually and the damper should be checked to ensure it is not broken or stuck. A damper can be manually opened or closed and regulates air flow. When your fireplace is not in use, the damper should be closed to minimize heat loss from your home.
A chimney balloon can also help seal a chimney when a fireplace is not in use.
(6) Use a Water Heater Blanket
Improve the energy efficiency of your water heater with a blanket that maintains constant temperature. Older water heaters that do not include insulation with an R-value of at least 24 lose heat. If you can feel warmth when touching your water heater, you should consider covering it to reduce your water heating costs. Remember to keep your thermostat at 130ºF or below to prevent the wiring from overheating.
Understand your electric bill
An important step to lower your electricity bill is to understand how you are charged for your electricity each month. Check with your electric company to see what times of day you should be consuming less energy. Depending on the electric company, you might be getting charged more when you consume electricity during high peak hours. The times will vary by season, too. Also check with your electric company to learn about bill credits for conserving on energy.
On my electric bill in Virginia, I have the following sections:
- Distribution Service: What I’m charged for delivery of electric to my residence.
- Electricity Supply Service: What I’m charged for cost of fuel, generation, and transmission involved with producing electricity.
- Virginia State and Local Consumption Taxes and Local Utility Tax
How much will you lower your electricity bill this winter?