It’s that dreaded time of the month again: the day when your electric bill arrives in the mail or becomes available online. You might think you’ve taken appropriate steps to reduce your power consumption, and yet the amount you owe can still produce a severe case of sticker shock. Unlike other bills such as credit card or bank statements, your electric bill does not itemize the expenses, making it difficult to pinpoint what is generating the high cost.
Some folks blame the power company for a high electric bill. While it’s true that utility prices can — and frequently do — increase, you have little control over the rates set by your friendly neighborhood electricity provider. Unless you decide to go “off the grid” and choose an alternative source such as solar power for your home’s electricity, you’ll need to take a proactive approach to lowering your bill.
Fighting the Invisible “Energy Suckers” in Your Home
If you’re tired of receiving a high energy bill each month and want to do something about it, start by taking a close look at all of the electronic gadgets you use in your home. Many of these are small, innocent-looking devices that quietly suck up vast amounts of electricity. For example, charging your iPhone or laptop overnight can use as much juice as a medium-sized Energy Star-rated refrigerator. Other secret energy suckers that might surprise you include:
- Electronic gadgets on standby: When you turn off your electronic devices such as your computer or DVR, you might think they power down and stop using electricity. However, as long as they remain plugged in, these items will continue to operate behind the scenes, performing functions such as updates and downloads. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, these silent power drains can account for as much as 10 percent of a monthly power bill.
- Water heater temperature set too high: You might not think much about your home’s water heater, and you probably pay little attention to its temperature setting. Big mistake! Your water heater’s temperature will remain close to the level at which you initially set it — even when you’re not using any hot water. An excellent way to combat a high electric bill is to lower your water heater’s temperature setting to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and keep it there. Most people discover that this level is sufficient for their hot water requirements.
- Appliances used inefficiently: Many people are installing Energy Star-rated appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines as a way to reduce a high electric bill. These products can offer significant energy savings — assuming you use them efficiently. Examples of energy-efficient best practices for operating Energy Star (and non-Energy Star) appliances include only running a washing machine, clothes dryer or dishwasher with a full load, keeping the refrigerator and freezer full and keeping dryer lint traps clean.
- Energy-wasting light bulbs: If you’re still using traditional incandescent light bulbs in your home, consider switching to more energy-efficient LED bulbs. An LED product consumes up to 90 percent less energy without sacrificing brightness. LED bulbs also last much longer — you may never need to replace them!
- Appliances used at the wrong time: In most areas, the peak hours for electricity consumption occur during the day and into the early evening. Some utility companies charge higher rates during this timeframe. You may be able to lower your electric bill by performing certain household chores at a later time. For example, you can turn on your dishwater before you go to bed.
- Long showers: Do you depend on a long, hot shower to help you wake up every morning? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American family uses about 40 gallons of water per day just for showering. Taking shorter showers will reduce the demand on your water heater, which also cuts back on the amount of electricity required to operate the unit. What’s more, you will be helping to conserve water.
- Changing use patterns: The term “behavioral waste” refers to human habits that result in excess consumption. Examples of behavioral waste that contribute to high electric bills include leaving lights on in unoccupied rooms, staring into an open refrigerator in search of a snack and falling asleep without turning off the television. Take a close look at your habits — you might be surprised to discover how much electricity you’re wasting.
- Inconsistent temperature control practices: Many homeowners waste energy by keeping their houses too hot or cool while they’re at work or sleeping. Depending on your HVAC system, installing a programmable thermostat can maintain your home at the optimal temperature throughout the day and night. You’ll be able to set the thermostat at predetermined temperatures and not have to worry about making manual adjustments, helping you avoid the fluctuations that can result in a high electric bill.
- Overworked furnace fans: Fans circulate the air produced by a furnace or heat pump through the ductwork. They also perform the same function for central air conditioning systems. Because of their frequent use, fans consume a significant amount of electricity. If you’re in the market for a new HVAC system, choosing one with a fan powered by an energy-efficient motor can help you combat high electric bills.
- Poor insulation: Inadequate insulation is another energy sucker related to your home’s heating and cooling system. For instance, if you don’t have insulation in your attic, much of the rising warm air produced by your HVAC unit will escape through the roof, which will cause a requirement for more energy to keep your home at the ideal temperature during winter. Other ways to improve your home’s insulation include placing weather-stripping on exterior doors, switching to energy-efficient windows and replacing door and window screens with glass panes at the start of winter.
Contact Haller to Learn About More Ways to Reduce a High Electric Bill
As a leading Central and Eastern PA contractor, Haller Enterprises is your best source for an efficient heating and cooling system that will help you keep your electricity costs under control. Schedule a FREE in-home consultation today!