15 Inexpensive Ways to Reduce Your Power Bill

Paying for electricity is a necessary evil. We need power to run our computers, televisions, refrigerators, lights, and so many other things that we use in our daily activities. At the same time, the power company has our hands tied behind our backs: Pay the bill or lose electricity.

You may even find that during the summer months, the power company increases your rates. They know you're going to run your A/C more. Shoot, your kids may be home all day on summer break, running lights all day long and keeping the TV on.

During the rest of the year, the rates drop slightly, but it's still expensive. Some power companies come to your home for free to evaluate where you can save money. Usually, their suggestions include replacing windows, re-insulating your attic, replacing appliances with energy efficient machines, etc. All of these are great methods for reducing your bill, but these upgrades cost a lot of money. And, in some cases, you may not see immediate results.

So what can you do to reduce your power bill? Turns out there are several things that you can do that aren't huge investments.

  1. Seal Up the House. You may not realize that you have paper-thin cracks around your exterior doors and windows. Purchase caulk and weather-stripping to seal up the cracks. Go along the edges of your windows and doors. According to Consumer Reports, sealing these leaks can reduce your energy costs by 15 to 30%.
  2. Apply Window Insulator Film. Apply a tinted window film directly to the window. This can help insulate them during the colder months to help reduce energy loss.
  3. Cover Windows. Use blackout curtains to help block the heat and light. If you don't want to keep your curtains closed all day.
  4. Wash Laundry In Cold Water. This can reduce your annual power bill by up to $150 a year.
  5. Air-Dry Laundry. Use an outdoor clothes line to air dry your clothes, sheets, blankets, etc. You may save up to $2.50 per day that you do laundry. If you live in an area with high allergens or you have someone in your home with allergies to pollen or other allergens, try air drying your laundry inside your laundry room; hang a line inside.
  6. Insulate Receptacles and Switches. Many people don't realize that the receptacles and switches can be sources of air leaks. Purchase specialized plate insulating kits from your local hardware store. These are inexpensive. At a minimum, replace the plates that are on outside walls.
  7. Unplug Electronics. Consumer reports found that you can save $25 to $75 a year by just putting your computer on standby: Imagine what you save do by unplugging all devices when not in use. Consider purchasing an energy-saving timer or surge protector which can shut off the energy running to the receptacle. Plug your TV, gaming console, cable box, etc. into an energy-saving outlet so you can shut off power when not in use. Your television pulls the most phantom electricity, so keep your TV on a conservation outlet while not in use will help lower your power bill, even if it's just dollars a week.
  8. Replace Light Bulbs. Turning off your lights when you're not using them can save up to hundreds of dollars a year, but replacing your light bulbs from traditional bulbs to CFLs or LEDs can save you even more money per year, and they last longer.

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9. Program Your Thermostat. Instead of changing your thermostat during the day and again at night, purchase a programmable thermostat that allows you to set weekday and weekend schedules with multiple schedules a day. There's just no need to pay to cool or heat an empty home.

10. Replace Air Filters. Replace the air filter(s) in your A/C unit. Dirty filters restrict airflow, causing your unit to run longer and harder.

11. Use Heat-Generating Appliances Early in the Morning or Late at Night. When the outdoor temperature is the coolest, that's when you want to run your clothes dryer, oven, and dishwasher. Running these appliances when the outdoor temperature is the hottest causes your AC to run harder to keep the house comfortable.

12. Run Fans or Use the A/C Fan Feature. Air flow makes a room feel cooler. Run fans or use the "Fan Only" option on your A/C unit to recycle the cool air that's already in your home. This can potentially save several hundred dollars a year.

13. Landscape. Keep greenery around your outdoor air conditioner trimmed to ensure more efficient air flow. Regularly sweep out or blow away leaves and debris that accumulated near the unit for more efficiency.

14. Set a Water Heater Timer. If you have an electric water heater, reduce the temperature to a maximum of 120 degrees F and set it up on a standard timer. There's no need to heat the water when you know you don't need it. Figure out when you won't need hot water and set the timer off during those hours. You can even purchase an energy conservation outlet with a timer to completely cut power to the water heater. Most heaters are big enough and have enough insulation to maintain adequate hot water when the power is off to the appliance.

15. Maintain Your Refrigerator. Your refrigerator is on of the biggest energy users of your home appliances, so you want to make sure that it operates at maximum efficiency. There are a few things that you can do to best maintain your fridge.

  1. Open the door briefly when going in the fridge.
  2. Adjust the "Cold" control according to the manufacturer's directions.
  3. Vacuum the refrigerator coils to remove dust and debris that may be collecting on them.
  4. Defrost if needed.
  5. Reduce the amount of power the motor uses by plugging it into an electronic induction motor control (purchasable from your local home improvement store).

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