The most successful ways to save electricity don’t require a big investment of time or money. Here are a few practices that could lower a cumbersome electric bill this spring and summer:
- Seal up the house. Many homes and apartments have money leaking through cracks around the doors and windows. It’s simple enough to buy caulk and weather-stripping to seal cracks — in fact, you may already have caulk left over from other projects. According to Consumer Reports, sealing leaks can reduce energy costs by 15 to 30 percent.
- Use heat-generating appliances at night. I know this should be a no-brainer, but if you cook or bake, use the electric or gas oven at night. A hot oven in the heat of the day forces the air conditioner to work harder to keep the house at a comfortable temperature. The same goes for clothes dryers and dishwashers. Use these at night when outside temps are cooler.
- Wash laundry with cold water. According to Michael Bluejay, A.K.A. Mr. Electricity, washing clothing in cold water instead of hot can save $152 per year.
- Go retro with a crock pot. Speaking of ovens, there’s nothing that heats up the house faster than a preheating oven and a few pans on the stove top. Slow cookers, on the other hand, use less energy and won’t turn your kitchen into, well, an oven. I think the crock pot often gets a bad rap thanks to the old way of slow cooking: bland recipes created from canned and prepackaged ingredients. But the slow cooker is enjoying a quiet revival, and with it we’re seeing better recipes, including chicken cacciatore. http://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2014/08/30-easy-crockpot-recipes.html
- Air-dry clothing. I like this idea in theory. Anecdotes credit line-drying laundry with reducing a family’s average daily electricity cost from $2.50 to $1.75. I’ve yet to try it because I’m concerned about allergens in the air getting into our clothing, and in Georgia it seems that it is always allergy season. But if you have the room to spare, you could dry clothing inside on hangers. We have enough space in our laundry room to hang quite a bit of clothing, so I’ll start air-drying more.
- Turn on fans. Fans make a room feel cooler, especially big ceiling fans. Bluejay says a few well-placed fans can save more than $400 per year if they take the place of ACs.
- Unplug electronics. I know, I know. It should go without saying. Everyone seems to forget about phone chargers and camera battery chargers, though. Because of this, they stay plugged in, sucking change from our bank accounts. By using power strips, one could shut off electricity to these devices all at once. Consumer Reports also found that you can save $25 to $75 each year just by putting your computer on standby.
- Consider your light bulbs. Bluejay says you can turn off lights you aren’t using to save $274 a year; turn off a single 100-watt light bulb from running constantly to save $131 per year; and replace ten 60-watt light bulbs with compact fluorescents to save $123 per year (upfront cost estimate: $32).
- Don’t cool an empty house. If you have a programmable thermostat, program it! We don’t have one, which means I have to make it a habit to raise the thermostat every time I leave the house. Close off rooms you aren’t occupying, as well.
- Replace air filters monthly. We’re pretty good at replacing our filter, but we could be more diligent. Dirty filters restrict airflow, causing the AC system to run longer and use more energy. I’ve added a recurring task to my calendar to make sure the air filter gets replaced each month.
All of these tasks should add up to noticeable savings and don’t require much time or money. (Fingers crossed that the ceiling fan will be an easy fix!)