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Tips for Using Less Electricity

By Cary Anderson

What if you could take a few easy steps to decrease your electric bill by 10-20%? Would it be worth it? Think about what your average electric bill is and imagine an extra 10-20% of that money back in your pocket every month. Sounds pretty good, right? Here are some easy ways you can make that dream a reality:

Use Refrigerator More Efficiently

Your refrigerator is likely the biggest energy drain in your house. It’s big and it runs all day and night. Consider the following tips to make a big dent into the electricity usage of this lumbering expense:

  • Clean the coils. Dusty coils behind your fridge make it harder for heat from the motor to escape. This means your refrigerator has to work harder at keeping everything cool.
  • Stock it with water jugs (freezer too). By filling up the excess space in your refrigerator with plastic jugs full of water, you help block the warm air that rushes in when you open the door. Solids and liquids store energy better than air.
  • Be efficient with door open. Just like you should aim not to leave your sink running unnecessarily, you should aim not to leave your refrigerator door open longer than is needed. Try to be efficient when you open the door by taking out (or putting in) everything you need in one shot and not opening and closing the door repeatedly.
  • Wait for hot food to cool before storing. Putting hot food in your refrigerator makes it have to work harder at creating a cool climate.
  • Get a new fridge. If your fridge is 20 years or older, it could very likely be worth it to you to replace it for a more energy efficient fridge. That might seem counter-intuitive, but the savings will pay for itself over the span of a few years.

Other Appliances

Here are some tips to be more energy efficient with other household appliances:

  • Fill dishwasher. Make sure your dishwasher is full before running a cycle. Also take a pass on the “heated dry” option; you don’t need it and it’s expensive.
  • Wash clothes in cold water. By settling for the “cold” or “warm” setting on your washing machine, you can save bundles as compared to using the “hot” water setting.
  • Use water heater more efficiently by: lowering the thermostat if your tap water gets scalding hot, wrapping it in a fiberglass insulator so it doesn’t need to work to keep the water warm as often, flush it twice a year to save energy heating the particulates that settle.
  • Replace old appliances. Hanging onto an old appliance might seem like a savvy, money-saving move, but it could actually be costing you in the long-run. Toss the ancient, hand-me-down for a modern, energy efficient device.
  • Get a toaster oven. They use far less energy compared to a full size oven for when you need to heat up something small enough to fit in one.

Other Important Tips

Here are some closing tips to consider for cutting down on your electric bill:

  • If you plan to live in your home long-term, the following major investments are worth making as you’ll save in the long run: plant shade trees around the house, install superior insulation around walls and ceilings, seal windows and consider upgrading to energy efficient model.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They cost more money up front but use just a quarter of the energy of regular light bulbs. The savings from this makes the extra expense well worth it.
  • Use a low-flow shower head. This will save on the hot water you’re using. If you want to be really thrifty, get rid of your water heater altogether. That might seem shocking at first, but you don’t need hot water. Dishes can still be cleaned without it and cold showers become the norm after a few days’ adjustment.
  • Unplug devices as much as possible. A device which is plugged in but turned off is still pulling electricity from the grid. Unplug things like cell phone chargers, toasters, hair dryers, etc unless they are actually in use. Unplug everything before you leave the home for an extended period of time.
  • Replace air filters regularly.
  • Make a five degree change by keeping your thermostat five degrees lower in the winter and five degrees higher in the summer. It will take some getting used to at first, but eventually you will acclimate to a less ideal climate and save a boatload for doing so.

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