10 Ways to Reduce Your Energy Bill
Written by Andrew Sendy
Updated March 12, 2020
6 minutes read
Are your energy expenses so high that they're affecting your budget? While it's true converting to green energy systems, like solar or wind power, make a big difference, there are plenty of small ways to save using simple, actionable measures via lifestyle and consumer choices.
Spend time reviewing the following list to reduce energy spending for 2019 and onward.
What factors affect your energy bill?
Multiple factors affect your energy bill, ranging the from the climate where you live and the HVAC system quality/age, to your homes insulation and household occupants' daily habits. Smart tweaks here and there make all the difference on utility bills.
Why is your energy bill so high?
Looking for more specifics regarding why energy bills seem higher than they should be? Consider the following:
- Does your power company use estimated or physical meter readings? If they use estimated readings for part of the year, verify them with your meter. If there's a difference, contact utility reps and they'll typically adjust the bill.
- Are you powering your home with expensive power sources? Did you know the average American spends roughly 50% of their energy budget on heating and cooling their homes (energy.gov)? If you rely on traditional power sources (oil, gas, electric), prices vary based on region. A chat with a knowledgeable HVAC contractor will help you determine whether you're using the most affordable power/fuel source(s).
- Are you using more heating/cooling than before? Is someone working from home now? Has an in-law moved in? Are you more heat/cool sensitive as you age? Is your HVAC system outdated or inefficient? Any one of these significantly impacts energy spending if heating and cooling usage increases.
- Overall energy consumption. Then, of course, there's the elephant in the room - your household's overall energy consumption. If occupants aren't conservative in their use of appliances, lights, heating/cooling, etc., higher utility bills will continue. Your house itself also plays a factor. If you have inefficient windows, improper sealing for doors, ineffective insulation; all of these can increase your overall energy consumption as well.
How can I lower my energy consumption?
Lowering household energy consumption boils down to five basic principles:
- Optimize whole-home energy efficiency.
- Be mindful of the energy your household consumes.
- Prioritize energy efficient appliances, gadgets, and devices.
- Use the most cost-effective power sources that make sense in your area.
- Keep all home systems well-maintained.
How can I tell if my home is energy efficient?
If your home is 10-years old or less and it was built to code by a licensed contractor, odds are it is energy efficient. However, the best way to know for sure is to schedule a whole home energy audit with your local utility company. Some HVAC companies offer whole-home audits as well.
Energy audits are helpful in establishing where efficiency weak spots are and outlining energy-efficient improvements in order of impact. Use that information to budget desired upgrades and improvements accordingly.
10 ways to reduce your energy bill in 2019
The following are 10 specific ways to cut energy spending right now:
- Review household power use. Lights left on, phantom energy loss (devices that are plugged in, even when not in use), and luxurious thermostat settings are energy-efficiency enemies. Get everyone onboard the energy efficiency bandwagon.
- Convert to solar power. Hands down, solar power options are the most user-friendly way to invest in more affordable, lifetime energy spending nationwide. Click Here to schedule a consult with a reputable, local solar installer for specific estimates. Also, look into community solar options, which are more affordable for most residential customers. Read, What is Community Solar... for more information about this exciting new potential.
- Upgrade insulation. If you have an older home, there's a good chance your home's insulation isn't up to current efficiency standards, and that can cost you hundreds of dollars per month during peak heating/cooling seasons. Upgrading inadequate insulation, particularly in the attic and exterior walls, is a minimal investment with big returns.
- Replace single-pane windows. Single-pane windows should be replaced by energy-efficient, double- or triple-paned windows.
- Review your heating/cooling needs. Are you using the AC and/or heater more than necessary? Review the programmable thermostat settings and ensure they reflect home occupancy. Adjusting just a few degrees in either direction often doesn’t impact whole-home comfort, and reduces energy spending by several percentage points. Use radiant heat in the winter and fans and open windows in the summer whenever possible as well.
- Replace an old HVAC system. Is your HVAC system more than 15-years old? New systems are more efficient than outdated counterparts. Plus, older systems require higher maintenance and repair/replacement costs. If repairs and replacement parts over the past couple of years (combined with increased energy bills) add up to 50% or more of a new unit - it's worth replacing the old one. Then, consider features such as zoned heating/cooling, which disperses conditioned air in the areas of the home that need it most.
- Use LED light bulbs. Again, energy.gov, "Residential LEDs -- especially ENERGY STAR rated products -- use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting..."
- Use motion/time-sensitive lighting. Using motion/time sensitive power switches in bathrooms and children's bedrooms, closets, garage, etc., limit the lights being left on when nobody's using them.
- Ditch the old fridge. Older refrigerators are inefficient. Instead of making an old fridge a "second fridge" in the garage, recycle it and invest in a lower-dollar, efficient model for the garage or basement.
- ENERGY STAR or bust. Don't buy any appliances without the ENERGY STAR logo. Click Here to learn more.
What are the top benefits of reducing your energy use?
Simply put, reducing energy use saves you money and minimizes your carbon footprint. Making energy efficient choices is better for the environment.
Will solar energy lower my energy bill?
In almost all cases, investing in solar energy lowers energy bills and pays for itself over time. Read, Do the Economics of Residential Solar Panels Now Make Buying Solar Panels...too Compelling to Ignore?, for more information on the cost benefits of solar power.
How much will solar installation cost?
There's only one way to get an accurate quote for solar panels on your home: Visit SolarEstimate.org, where you'll have access to the nation's leading solar panel calculator, gaining important information about system size, panel recommendations, and more - with prices that reflect the most competitive solar installation prices in your area. Going solar is one of the biggest and best steps you can take when it comes to reducing your lifetime energy bills.