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How to Save Energy at Home: Ideas to Cut your Electric Bill

Updated on December 9, 2013

Save Energy and Reduce Your Electric Bill

Step-by-step guide to save energy at home. After following our energy saving tips you will cut your electricity usage resulting in lower electric bills and a reduced carbon footprint. This guide goes way beyond the usual advice to use energy saving light bulbs! We show you how to change your behavior and make it easy to save money and electricity.

We'll take you though step-by-step and show you how to understand your electric usage and how it compares to the average household. And we'll show you how to lower your electric usage without feeling like it's a hardship - in fact you'll enjoy watching your energy usage drop.

Make it your New Year's resolution for 2012 to get your energy usage under control.

Poll: How good is your energy saving?

A quick question before we get started.

How good are you at saving energy

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Energy Saving Step 1: Get a Power Monitor and Prepare Everyone - Black & Decker EM100B Energy Saver Series Power Monitor

First you need to understand how much electricity you are using. For this you'll need a Power Monitor that will show the overall electricity usage for your home.

This electricity monitor is going to become a part of your daily life from this point on, so buy a good one. We recommend this Black&Decker Power Monitor. It has a lot of great reviews on Amazon and Amazon sells it for a good price. (see video below) Black & Decker claim that you can save 20% on your electric bill. This seems realistic to us if you haven't already tried to optimize your energy usage. And in some cases you may be able to get larger savings than this.

While you wait for your Power Monitor to arrive, get the whole family together and get everyone on board with your energy saving plan.

The Kids Energy Saving site has good information and resources to help kids learn about energy saving. (You can also complete Step 2 while you wait.)


Black and Decker Power Monitor Video

Watch this video to understand how the Black and Decker Power Monitor works.

Energy Saving Step 2: Understand your electric bill

And switch supplier if appropriate

Before you reduce your electric bill you need to know what it is. Find copies of your electric bills, ideally for the last year and understand how much electricity you have been using.

"In 2008, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,040 kWh, an average of 920 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month. Tennessee had the highest annual consumption at 15,624 kWh and Maine the lowest at 6,252 kWh." - How much electricity does an American home use?

Find the average for your state and see how you compare. Is this what you would expect given the size of your house and number of people living in it?

Work out your average daily and monthly usage? How does it vary across the seasons. You might want to put monthly average figures in a spreadsheet so you can compare them with your usage figures after you've put energy saving measures into practice.

If you live in a state with electricity deregulation then at this point you should shop around for the best electric supplier in terms of cost and green credentials. Check out the Energy Deregulation Blog for more info.

Poll: How does your electric usage compare?

How does your electric usage compare?

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Energy Saving Step 3: Using your Power Monitor to change your behavior

So your Power Monitor arrived. Great. Get it installed and put it somewhere prominent. In our house the power monitor is in the living room opposite the sofa where we normally sit and in a place that we walk past regularly.

Got it set up and showing how much electricity you are using? Great. The goal here is to start getting a feel for how much electricity you are using. Find a time when you don't have any appliances like dishwashers or washing machines running.

Observe the current energy usage. Now comes the fun part. Go around the house turning things off or on and see what difference it makes. Boil the kettle. Turn the stove on. Turn the air conditioning off. Turn the TV off. Keep notes. We're only looking at larger items here like air conditioning systems, TVs, computers, etc. You may be able to detect lighting, but smaller items like phone chargers might not show up. (That's okay we're going to return to those later.)

You now have an idea what's using a lot of your electricity. Make sure everyone in the family gets involved.

Next turn off all the things that you don't have on all the time. This will establish your baseline. There will be variations for things like the condenser kicking in on the fridge periodically so you should observe for a while or repeat a couple of times.

The game is to keep the number on the monitor as low as possible, while still participating in 21st century life.

From now on you should know roughly what you expect to see on the electricity monitor. If it goes above the baseline, think about why. Check out anything suspicious - is everyone downstairs but there's a TV on upstairs? Did you forget to turn the stove off?

For us, the feedback of having that number sitting there in our living room, judging us has had a big impact. We can no longer plead ignorance. We know how much electricity we're using and we're motivated to modify our behavior.

Energy Saving Step 4: Power Appliances Off!

OK, you know this one already. But are you doing it?

I know I wasn't before we got the Power Monitor. I'd go from one room to another turning on all the lights in the house. I would leave my computer on when I wasn't using it. The printer was on all the time for convenience. And worst of all the electrical underfloor heating was sometimes on when there was no one in the house. Very naughty!

But once I had the Power Monitor keeping track and I could readily see how much electricity and therefore money we were wasting I changed my behavior.

If you have related sets of appliances like computer+devices or TV+DVD player then an energy saving power strip is a great idea. If you have hard to reach electric sockets or you're just lazy (like me) then a wireless remote is a great idea. We use these a lot. And for items that don't need to be on all the time, why not use a socket with a built-in timer.

Use a mixture of turning items off manually when they're not in use and energy saving devices and you can significantly reduce your electricity usage.


Energy Saving Step 5: Reduce Applicance Usage

Now we want to reduce the power used by appliances such as dishwashers. First you need to know what each appliance uses. The Power Monitor isn't best suited to this task (though you could use it for this task) so we'll need an Electricity Usage Monitor that plugs into a socket.

See below for our recommendation. Come back here when you've got an Electricity Usage Monitor.

Now we're going to work our way round the house. First we'll try the kettle. Fill the kettle full of water and plug it in to the energy usage monitor. Boil the kettle and find out how much electricity it uses to boil a full kettle. Let the kettle cool down completely (make some tea with that water you just boiled - don't waste it!). Once the kettle is completely cool, just boil enough water for one cup (or two if that's what you would normally use). Note the difference in electricity usage and the cost. From now on, make sure you only boil the amount of water you need.

Now plug the dishwasher into the energy usage monitor and run it on your normal setting. Note how much electricity you used. Next time you run the dishwasher, run it on a shorter cycle or a lower temperature and see how much electricity is used. Can you switch to a more energy efficient setting. To save the most energy only run your dishwasher when it's full.

Same deal with your washer and dryer. Understand what it costs to run them, and see if you can use them on a less expensive cycle. I now run my washer at a lower temperature and my dryer on a shorter program. I know, I shouldn't use a dryer at all, but I work full-time and have 2 kids, it's convenient.

Energy Saving Step 8: Buy Wind-Up or Dynamo Gadgets

From now on, buy wind-up gadgets whenever possible. You can get torches, radios and chargers.

In addition to saving energy they also work in a power cut and when you go camping.


Energy Saving Step 9: Buy Energy Efficient Appliances

When it's time to buy new appliances, make sure you go for energy efficient ones. If you are replacing an older appliance then the differences can be significant.

Look for the Energy Star rating. Energy Star is a government backed program which labels the most energy efficient products. Find out How a Product Earns the ENERGY STAR Label.


Energy Saving Step 6: Heating and Cooling

Heating and Cooling are big consumers of energy.

The Free Heating and Cooling Guide gives detailed information on how to make sure your HVAC system is optimized and efficient.

Now make sure your house is properly insulated. Then it will take less energy to heat and cool it. Find about more about insulation in this Department of Energy Insulation Fact Sheet.

Then you need to look at how you are using your heating and cooling. Could you cope will a little less air conditioning or heating?

If it's cold, try wearing a Slanket and some slipper socks - yes we're serious, how do you think folks kept warm in the olden days ;-)

If it's hot, have a cold drink. Go round to a friend's house or a public place that is nice and cool!

Step 7: Investigate alternative energy sources

Now you're doing pretty well on lowering your energy usage. Is there anything you can do to generate energy?

How about a solar-powered shed light, or garden lights? Charge your gadgets with a solar charger?

Solar panels on the roof are a viable option for many. There may be grants available that make it financially viable.

Do you live somewhere where a wind turbine makes sense?


Bright Idea Wall Mural
Buy at AllPosters.com

You didn't think we'd forget this one did you! Yes, energy saving light bulbs are a good idea and you should get some.

Don't forget the other steps though.


Poll: How are you getting on at reducing your electricity usage?

Are you putting these ideas into practice?

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Thanks for Visiting

How to Save Energy at Home: Cut Your Electric Bill

Have these tips helped you? Any energy saving tips you'd like to share. Anything we could improve. How are you getting on with your energy saving?

Did this page give you ideas on how to save energy at home? - Comments

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    • cgeertsc profile image

      cgeertsc 4 years ago

      some good info here!

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 5 years ago from Gloucester

      Excellent information - Blessed. :)

    • hartworks lm profile image

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      I might mention that public libraries and electric companies often have power monitors to lend out. We got one that way this summer when we were sizing the solar electric panels we are about to put on our roof. It was very interesting and useful.

      Also, I liked how you mentioned refrigerators. Often people think that getting a new one is energy saving without thinking about all the energy that went into making the new one . I agree with you, only get one when it comes time!

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

      Great work

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      A power monitor is a good addition. We try hard to do something about our electricity consumption but air conditioning is just a must where we are.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 5 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you for the good, practical and easy to use information on saving electricity. I'm amazed by how many new appliances have LED lights that are always lit, and sapping bits of electricity.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 5 years ago

      My house is 157 years old and we had window ac units. I just put in 2-step units and, man, my electric bill fell almost 40% in one month. You have some great tips for lowering energy bills here.

    • katemiya profile image

      katemiya 5 years ago

      Thanks for the in depth look at ways to save energy at home. Electricity is expensive here in Hawaii so every little tip helps. I am surprised to see how cheap those power monitors are because I thought they were hundreds of dollars. Now I might consider taking that next step to decrease usage.

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 5 years ago

      My fella would love this article! He won't let me turn on an overhead light even for 5 minutes! I have replaced my appliances and lightbulbs with energy saving ones, and I don't leave lights on anywhere when I leave the room. Good, comprehensive article. Blessed!

    • sidther lm profile image

      sidther lm 5 years ago

      This is great!~ Stumbled it!

      We also used Gila Window film to reduce our electric bill, it keeps heat in in the winter and out in the summer, it is 107 here right now and it is a comfortable 80 in my home with the AC only coming on for a few moments per hour! I want solar panels SO much but we are not allowed to have them here :(

    • howtocurecancer profile image

      howtocurecancer 6 years ago

      We all should be aware of reducing electricity usage and your lens is very helpful.