One of our most expensive utility bills is our electricity or power bill. And you may think you are doing everything you can to save. You turn off the lights when you leave the room. You only wash and dry full loads of clothes. You don’t heat up the oven for one potato. So, what’s going wrong?
You try to conserve and not be wasteful, yet your bill is still climbing steadily up, up, and away. The problem is not that you are doing anything wrong, but that you are not doing enough. There are a few lesser-known tips to reducing your power bill. Let’s take a look:
Talk to the Power Company
First and foremost, call the power company. It may seem strange at first but the power company really does want you to conserve and save costs on your bill. So, give them a call or stop by their office and have a chat. Ask them what they suggest. From free energy inspections to specially funded programs, your power company will help you lay out a plan.
Many areas offer reduced rates when you use your power during the off-peak hours. For instance, if you use your clothes dryer after a specified time, you could save a fair amount of money. Depending on your area, the savings for off-peak usage can really add up. Your power company will be able to alert you to these savings.
Your power company will also tell you about a plan for budgeted billing. Even though this method of payment may not be a money saving method, it does help eliminate the seasonal ups and downs that sometimes has you scrambling to pay the bill. When your bill is consistent throughout the year, it makes your family budget much more efficient. When the power bill comes during a heavy usage time, it’s comforting to know that you won’t have to put off paying something else to keep the power turned on. And, it could actually save you money by eliminating late fees you may incur by delaying a different bill.
Use Power Saving Technology
Another secret to the reduced power bill is a programmable thermostat. These work just like little computers that tell your furnace and air conditioner what to do. For instance, if no one is home all day, you can program the thermostat to adjust itself to conserve energy. You don’t have to cool or heat the house as much if no one is in it. Then, program it to return to a more comfortable setting shortly before everyone returns home. Most of the more modern thermostats give you a lot of features, including secondary schedules for weekends and holidays.
Of course, you can always manually override the preset programs, but it’s nice to know that once you leave the house, the thermostat will remember to turn the heat down even when you forget.
One thing to watch out for though – you don’t want to program in any drastic changes in the temperature or it can take even more electricity to re-heat or re-cool the house. Even a modest drop will save you money. My power company sends out monthly reports on how much power you use compared to your neighbors. I always used a lot more than any of my neighbors. I changed the temperature on my air conditioner by just 2 degrees (2 degrees warmer), and it brought me down to a medium usage (compared to the neighbors). And I don’t even notice the difference in the temperature.
Light bulbs are another hidden money-saving gem when you know what to do. Yes, you want to shut off lights when you’re not using them. We all know this saves money. But, did you know that changing even five or six of your most used light bulbs from incandescent to compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs, can save you even more money? I know many people react negatively to this suggestion, but take another look. You can now buy CFLs that look and act very much like incandescent light bulbs. You don’t have to settle for a harsh piggy-tail look anymore. And, at an estimated $70 a year savings with just five bulbs replaced, you might consider looking for even more places you can use a CFL. And when you buy, don’t forget to look for programs that offer rebates and other incentives.
This last surprising money saving tip may be a little confusing at first, but stick with me. Here it is; go out and buy some good power-strips, the things you plug more than one electrical item into at a time. How does this save you money? By making it easy to unplug your electrical items when you are not using them. Still confused? Keep reading.
One important energy saving suggestion most people ignore is to unplug your electrical items when they are not being used. For instance, the toaster, coffee pot, television, and computer all suck up energy, when not in use. That’s right. Electrical items use electricity even when they are turned off. It’s called stand-by power. Some reports go so far as to say that we waste 40% of our electric bill on stand-by power! Plug groups of these small appliances or electronic items into power-strips and then you only have to unplug one item, making it easy to save money on your electric bill.
Doing the usual things to cut back on energy usage in your house will work to lower your bill. But, throw in a few of these insider secrets on top and you’ll start seeing the savings even faster.