- Personal Finance
How to lower your power bills
If there is one thing that we all have in common, it is that we have bills to pay. Every month they come. Every month we pay them. Sometimes we growl and suspect a conspiracy, but we always pay them. If you were to split our bills into two categories: needs and wants, you would notice right away that your electric bill is your largest necessary monthly expense. I hate to break it to you but cable, internet, and phone bills fall in the want category. Nice to have but not really a survival need. In this hub, I will let you in on some ways to dramatically reduce your electric bill. Keep in mind, that not all ways are going to be for you. Some involve an investment of time, money, and elbow grease while others do not.
Before I started implementing some of the energy saving solutions below our bills ranged from $120 to over $230 per month. At the end of the hub, I will share the amount of my last few bills so that you can judge the value of the savings for yourself.
Save money by installing it yourself!
Bring in the FAN!
This is a KVAR
Solar Attic Fans
One of the last gifts my husband was able to give was a Solar Attic Fan. He could not have imagined how helpful that investment would end up being for our family, especially now. The fans are an investment. This will not be the cheapest thing that you can do to lower your bills but it may be one of the simplest and most influential cost cutters available to you. My husband was not the handy man type. He was the professional, pay-someone-else-to-do-it type. Sure, doing things yourself saves you a ton of money, but I was patient and he worked hard so I didn't mind waiting until he had the money to get things done if he didn't mind paying more for it. Thankfully, he was a natural negotiator so he didn't pay nearly as much as he could have. Now, things are very different for me so saving = surviving well.
Before you start putting together a good electric savings plan, you have to know where most of your energy is being used. Today, the major electric guzzlers are your air conditioner and your water heater.
The solar attic fan is your best defense against the air conditioning guzzler. The fan is quiet and runs off of the power of the sun so it does not cost you anything to run. It can reduce your energy consumption by up to 50%. This is huge! The way it does that is by cycling hot air out of your attic. This allows your air conditioning unit take a break. It no longer has to run continuously throughout the day. Your a/c now does not have to work as hard to compensate for the hot air trapped in your attic.
How much it will cost depends on whether of not you will be installing it yourself. Install takes about 30 min to 1 hour depending on your comfort level and skill. If you are brave enough or skilled your investment will easily be under $500 per unit. If not, your investment could be $1,000 or more. Typically, most homes will not require more than one unit. My home is between 1500-1700 square feet and I use one unit.
Looking for a way to pay for it? Victoria's awesome suggestion is your tax return! Read about it.
Some other benefits of having the fan include less condensation in the attic. Besides getting less of the old, gross smell it is better for the wood and the insulation in your attic. Some people have even claimed to get more life out of their roof materials, although I believe that it depends on where you live and what your roof is exposed to.
With the fan, my husband also got a KVAR, but honestly, I am not sure it is doing anything. There are so many other things I have done to conserve and reduce energy consumption that it is really hard to say. As an experiment, I will do everything else but the KVAR in my next house and see if there is a difference. Honestly, I don't know what it does either. I thought it was like a surge protector for the house, which would be worth it to protect the appliances but I am not sure if it is or not.
Keep the heat in!
Cheap things that you can do now!
My favorite. Many people overlook these because the normal ones on the shelf right next to them are so so much cheaper. Today, I would encourage you to pick up a swirly. They, of coarse, use a lot less electricity per bulb. One of these lights bulbs may use about 13 watts while producing the same light as a 100 watt traditional bulb. This alone saves you money on your electric bill but there is more. Lighting produces heat. Heat increases cooling costs, which we already discussed was the leading energy hog. The swirly light bulbs also known a CFL light bulbs put out little or close to no heat. Gone are the days when I burned myself changing a light bulb, thank the Lord! This alone is worth the money in a family line full of clumsy young ladies. Another way that they save you money is in their replacement cost. I have not had to change a light bulb in years. My box stated that they can live 5 years but combined with conservative use, it seems that they will never go out.
Bring out the Blanket!
The other energy hog is the water heater. I am not in a hurry to loose one of my water heater because of the cost of replacement but I have to admit that I daydream about tankless water heaters. Of coarse, I do not want anything at all to break anywhere! In the meantime, I am going to go get a water heater blanket. I have not gotten mine yet. I blame it on my 6 month leave from reality. So, why should you wrap your water heater? Your water heater's job is to heat the water for your home. As it heats your water it will naturally release heat into the air around it. If you could trap that heat and stop it from escaping you will be able to bring down the amount of energy needed to heat the water. That is what the blanket is for. It provides insulation for the water heater. In this case it is similar to the air conditioning solution. You are reducing the need to for your appliance to run as much as it has been. Running less = less energy used = lower bills!
Laundry room tips-
I save money in my laundry room. When I had to purchase laundry machines, I selected HE front loaders. They use less water! I like to wash in cold water. This lowers the energy load for my water heater. I was raised to wash in hot water. Hot water = germ killing. Well, that is not really the case. Soap = germ killing. In the age of hand sanitizer, it has become easier to accept that hot water is no longer a staple.
Of coarse, I have seen many recommendations not to wash and wear clothes which reduces the amount of laundry you do. I do adhere to this rule for my clothes but not for my daughter's. She is in elementary school, which is a breading ground for colds and germs. Even though her jeans still smell, look, and feel clean I have to wash them. I know some of you are saying that it shortens the life of her clothes and that may be true except that every time I turn around she has outgrown another new looking pair of jeans. So, my solution is simple. I run her clothes in short, delicate cycles just to take an extra step in keeping her out of the Dr.'s office. This got me to think about how I do laundry. I am not in construction. My clothes don't get smelly even when I wear them more than once, thank the Lord. It is a great thing about being a female! I decided that if I were hand washing, I would not be standing there for an hour washing, so why does my machine have to? Now my loads are short and sweet. Instead of taking 50 minutes to an hour per load, I run them for 30. This means that I have used my energy consumption for my washer in half! In the dryer, I try to make sure that I dry multiple loads together if I have the room for it.
I can go on and on with saving solutions, but I think this is good for now. I do everything here except the blanket. It is on my list. As promised, I am going to share my last few electric bills so that you can judge the results for yourself. My December bill was a whopping $57, January $54, February $77 (Florida winter), and March was $49. The true test will come in July and August when the summer months attempt to melt us all. I will try to update it if I remember, which is close to impossible for me. Happy savings!
Do you have tips to share! Please put them in comments. I know I am always open to new ideas.