Electricity bills can be high, especially in the winter and summer. It’s never fun to pay them, but it feels extra frustrating when you are trying hard to make ends meet. No doubt you have attempted a few approaches (or more than a few!) to save money on your bill. The list below may offer more methods for you to consider.
Compare Providers and Plans
Consumers in many states and regions can choose between at least two electric companies or plans. Energy plans in Texas include fixed rate, variable, indexed, prepaid, time of use, and green energy. Some other states or providers have similar plans.
Prepaid may work well in your situation because you buy a certain amount of energy upfront. It functions similarly to having a prepaid smartphone plan. Typically, the electric company does not require a credit check or deposit.
A prepaid plan means you should not get surprise high bills and can track your use as you go. This monitoring helps you adjust your energy usage to keep it lower.
Time of use is another plan that could potentially save you a bundle. Some providers even give you free or cheap electricity when you avoid usage during peak hours. If you have the flexibility to run the washer and dryer late at night, this could be the plan for you. As always, be careful to read the fine print.
Electric choice is available in many states or areas but not all. To compare providers, use the free online comparison tools that many states and groups offer. You can filter electricity companies by contract length, green energy, rate, or other factors.
Check Out Electric Utility and Community Assistance Programs
You might qualify for lower rates or grants that cover some of your electric charges. Lower rates could reduce your bills by as much as 50%.
Lower-income consumers, seniors, people with disabilities, and even nonprofit groups often are eligible. Check with your electricity provider, city or town, and community assistance organizations. The LIHEAP Clearinghouse lists some options, but the list is not comprehensive.
Get an Energy Audit or Do One Yourself
Many electricity providers will audit your home for ways to save money on your bill. Often, they do it for free (not always, though). If yours won’t do it for free, a community organization might or you could try a DIY audit.
The techs review past bills, check windows for leakages and drafts, and perform blower door tests, among other actions. Much of the time, they use infrared camera scans and special equipment that homeowners would not in DIY audits. These tools can uncover issues that self-audits would not.
If a DIY audit is your best option, though, do one. Check these areas.
- Windows, their weatherstripping, and potential drafts.
- Furnaces, air conditioners, and water heaters. Check for leaks, broken seals, and proper operation. Change dirty filters. Lower the water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit if it is not set there already.
- Light bulbs. Switch to LED or energy-efficient bulbs. Motion-activated smart bulbs are a good idea, too.
- Attic insulation. Insulation should not cover vents, and the insulation on the attic walls, ceiling, and floor could be too thin.
- Fireplace. A damaged damper can let a lot of air escape. A chimney sweep can fix this issue.
- Devices not in use. Put computers, phone chargers, TVs, clocks, and more on power strips. Turn off the power strips when you’re not using these devices.
Another tip is to take stock of your refrigerator. Inspect the gasket and do the paper test. Close the door on a piece of paper and try pulling the paper out.
If you do not get resistance, the gasket seal is not working as it should and cold air is escaping your fridge. Replacing the gasket and dusting the coils on the back of the refrigerator should help.
Adjust How You Use Appliances
Make your appliances work smarter, not harder. When you get new appliances, look for Energy Star products. They can save you as much as $450 on energy costs per year.
When doing dishes, load your dishwasher properly per the user manual. Run it in eco-mode and only when it is full (skipping the rinse). Let the dishes air dry. Avoid washing dishes by hand.
Try using your ceiling fans and other fans instead of the air conditioner. Fans consume 90% less energy than central air. You can even use them in the winter. Switch the blades to clockwise for winter heating and counterclockwise for summer relief.
Do laundry only with full loads. Use the cold setting if possible. Warm uses less energy than a hot wash and is a good middle ground between cold and hot.
When you cook, opt for the toaster oven, air fryer, or microwave rather than the regular oven. These smaller devices use significantly less power.
Your electricity bills may always be higher than you would like. However, changing providers or plans (if possible in your area), investigating community resources, and doing audits could save you a nice amount of money each month.