How can I lower my electricity usage and bills?

Energy efficiency can be broken into two groups—appliance efficiency and keeping the elements out.

Appliance Efficiency

  • Switch to LEDs: These light bulbs are tremendously more efficient than a traditional incandescent bulbs. They cost a bit more upfront but can pay for themselves over time and do not have to be replaced as frequently, which means less waste!

  • Unplug: You may have heard the phrases “phantom load” or “electricity vampires”.  These spooky characters are best vanquished with power strips that can double as surge protectors! For ultimate convenience, put a smart plug behind the power strip so you can ask Alexa, Google, or Siri to turn off any electricity leaks.

  • Energy Star Ratings: This program is run by the EPA and DOE to give customers a standardized metric of energy efficiency for appliances. When buying dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, and other large appliances look for the Energy Star label to ensure that they meet a minimum level of efficiency. Using comparison features on shopping websites to see efficiency ratings side by side can also help with decision making.

Keeping the Elements Out

  • Tuning-up your A/C: Don’t forget to get an A/C tune up in the early spring. Topping off freon, sealing ducts, and cleaning out drip pans and compressor units will let the HVAC system be its best. (And regular maintenance can keep it alive longer- and who doesn’t want to stave off a $6,000 replacement?)

  • Replacing your air filter: Changed quarterly will help to keep the ducts operating at their best.

  • Installing a smart thermostat: An investment that can pay for itself in energy savings over time.

  • Adding window treatments: You don’t have to put up heavy drapes to block the sun, there are some super light window treatments like honeycomb blinds that can be just as effective.

  • Running ceiling fans: Fans should run counterclockwise during the summer to force air down. This can give the feeling of four degrees of cooling! Fans should run clockwise during the winter to warm force air down and out towards the walls. Keeping the room nice and toasty. Remember that fans only provide the feeling of temperature change, though, so make sure to turn them off when you leave the room.

  • Using bathroom fans: Helpful for pushing heat and humidity out of your home. Try switching them on periodically on hot days.

  • Cook outside: Not that you need an excuse to grill on a summer afternoon, but cooking outside can save you money on your electric bill by keeping the hot air outside so the A/C doesn’t have to work harder to cool the kitchen.

  • Plant a tree: Planting a 6-8-foot, deciduous tree in front of windows will start shading your home the first year and (depending on the species of tree and height of the home) it will shade the roof in 5 to 10 years. Trees like oaks are best planted on the west side of the home where they can protect against the hot afternoon sun.

  • Open the blinds during winter: Let sunlight into naturally warm rooms on sunny days.


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