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14 Ways to Save on Your Electric Bill

by J. Money on Wednesday, May 16, 2012

electricity meters

I got these from a pamphlet on 100+ Ways to Improve Your Electric Bill, but the others just bored me to death and were too full of acronyms and heavy text ;)  So I plucked out a handful of my favorites instead to share with y’all today, as some of them I had nooooo idea about and even thought that the opposite would be true!

So check them out and see if they help you out at all.  I doubt I’ll change much of my own habits after reading the whole thing, but it was nice to know at least a few of the things we already do make sense energy-wise :) Maybe you’ll get something out of ‘em all too? #1 and #6 were my faves…

The 14 Most Interesting Tips:

  1. Run the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. Overall dishwashers use much less water (6 less gallons) than washing them by hand if you have a full load. Luckily we already do this one, but who knew? I always thought it was the opposite… and maybe it was back in the day? But now technology made it more efficient?
  2. Keep the doors of unused rooms shut, and then close the vents and/or AC units in them to conserve energy.  I think this one’s a bit too hardcore for me – I like floating from one room to the next without having to opening and closing doors all over the place ;)  I already have to keep one of them closed all the time (cuz one of our cats will pee all over the rug in there!), and even that is hard to remember to do every day.
  3. NEVER put a refrigerator in the garage!  The temperature gets too crazy out there during peak winter and summer months, so if you need a 2nd one they say to put it in the basement instead.
  4. Don’t place uncovered liquids in refrigerators either. Not only do they absorb undesirable flavors, but they also give off vapors that add to the compressor workload.
  5. Use chest-type freezers when you can – they use anywhere from 11 to 27 percent less energy than upright freezers.
  6. Use your microwave oven whenever possible. Microwave ovens draw less than half the power of their conventional counterparts and cook for a much shorter period of time.
  7. As well as electric smooth top stoves - they’re much more efficient than both gas stoves (74.2% vs 15.6%), as well as coil cooktops (73.7%) according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
  8. You’ll save more hot water by taking showers over baths – sometimes by even 50%! (Another thing I always thought was the opposite!)
  9. When possible, put lamps in the corner of a room rather than against a flat wall as it has more surfaces to reflect light.
  10. Also, be sure to dust lamps and bulbs often as it’ll impair lighting efficiency – something I NEVER do, oops!
  11. The next time you buy a washing machine, consider getting a front-loading or horizontal axis washing machine (??) over regular ones – they’ll save you 30% less water and up to 50% energy as well on average (and are gentler on your clothes).
  12. If you have no preference in TV types, go with rear projection TVs – they’re typically more efficient than both LCDs and plasmas (plasmas use the most energy).  Though who knows how much longer they’ll be around for, haha… we’re not getting rid of our 60″ one any time soon :)
  13. Opt for light-colored roof shingles over dark ones to reflect more sunlight away (and thus keeping your place cooler in the heat). Though I suppose you’d want the opposite in the winter, no? Not much you can do about it anyways unless you’re about to build a house from scratch, haha…
  14. And lastly, a quick fact: The average home uses 24 electrical products, accounting for up to 15% of household electricity. So when they’re not in use, keep them turned off!

Did you have any idea about all this?  Or am I just a complete moron over here? Haha… regardless, we can all be doing more to cut down on energy costs for sure.  Especially on house-hold related stuff.  If you have any of your OWN tips you’d like to share, please do! We could always use more ways to save some money, especially if they’re super easy to implement ;)

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PS: To download all 100+ tips on energy-saving, click here (it’s a pdf).

(Photo by nicolasnova)


{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Call Me What You Want Even Cheap May 16, 2012 at 7:08 am

Great list, I didn’t know chest-type freezers would actually make a difference. I’ll have to share this list.

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2 Elle May 16, 2012 at 7:27 am

Thanks for sharing the tips J! i didn’t know about the stoves. We’ve been doing pretty well keeping our electric bill down ($65), but I’ll try switching over to more showers over baths.

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3 Kevin May 16, 2012 at 7:31 am

Did you ever pull the trigger on the SolarCity panels? If not – could you write a follow-up post? I am considering it myself and as part of my Googling research came across your post. Thanks.

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4 Amanda Talbert May 16, 2012 at 7:39 am

Oh don’t worry, having a child will help you keep your doors closed. You’ll close the bathroom door consistently after the first time he sticks a lollipop into the toilet and then into his mouth. You’ll close your bedroom door consistently when he gets into your wife’s nightstand, opens her lotion bottle and spreads it on your bedspread. You’ll close your office door consistently when he shreds important documents for you. The list goes on and on ;)

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5 Michelle May 16, 2012 at 8:22 am

Interesting! For some reason I always thought that gas stoves were cheaper for use than electric! I doubt we’ll switch though just because our gas bill is only around $40 a month. Maybe one day!

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6 Money Beagle May 16, 2012 at 8:35 am

If I’m not mistaken, the horizontal axis washing machine would probably refer to the newer type of High Efficiency machines which are top loading. The Consumer Reports ratings aren’t that great yet compared to their front-loading counterparts so I’d probably hold off on those just yet.

I have heard the same about using your dishwasher, but consider the actual cost of the appliance itself. If you run the dishwasher 20% more to cut back, it stands to reason that you’ll get less life (from a calendar perspective) and will have to replace it that much sooner. This will surely offset a portion of the savings, yes?

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7 Diane May 16, 2012 at 8:39 am

You need to re-roof every 15 to 20 years, so it’s easy to change shingle colors at that time. I live in a cool area, so opted for darker shingles when I re-roofed five years ago. I don’t have any AC so no cooling costs, but did want the heat gain in winter.

I would never, EVER change my gas range for an electric cooktop. Blecch.

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8 theCase May 16, 2012 at 8:56 am

I question the point 7 (Gas vs. Electric Stove costing), as gas is generally 1/3 the cost per BTU as compared to electricity. Given that, a 15% vs. 74% efficiency (Gas vs. Electric) seems crazy.

Then again perhaps the “Edison Electric Institute” may have a bias and have cherry picked their stats.

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9 Stephanie May 16, 2012 at 9:04 am

Another thing you can do is to put some of your electronics that have a standby light (like your entertainment system or computer) on power strips so you can turn them off when they’re not in use to cut down on vampire energy drain. We mostly have it on the things we turn off when we go out of town (chargers, clocks, tvs, computers, kitchen appliances) just in case we have lightning issues. Older electronics are worse on their drain than more current appliances.

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10 m1nts May 16, 2012 at 9:07 am

We bought window films. They’re supposed to help you keep the room’s temperature longer. Where we live electricity is cheaper than gas, so we try to cut out gas usage.

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11 Emmy May 16, 2012 at 9:44 am

Oooh! I’m kinda proud that I already do most of these – and I didn’t even realize it. Yay!

I use the dishwasher all of the time – so there’s a plus.
Right now I am keeping my old roommates vacant room closed, but that’s mainly because I don’t want my dog to “claim” it, if you know what I mean. I do have a fan running in there though. Maybe I should turn that off.
I don’t have a garage to put a second fridge in (or a basement), but I don’t need a second on anyway. Yay apartment living!
I usually don’t put uncovered stuff in the fridge… just because that’s kinda gross…
Since I can’t cook I use the microwave ALL THE TIME – but I wish I had one of those flat stove tops. They would be SO MUCH easier to clean. :-/
Showers- yup. Can’t remember the last time I took a bath.
Most of my lamps are in corners simply because… idk. They just are. They get dusted on occasion, but not as often as they should.
My TV is old – and now I don’t mind so much. lol

One thing I also do is that I try not to keep the apartment too hot or too cold. If it’s chilly in the winter I still keep my thermostat at a decent temperature and just pile on the blankets and sweatshirts. Also, heated blankets are the best! Then in the summer I don’t open the blinds as much and have fans going.

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12 Jessica May 16, 2012 at 9:55 am

I know the chest freezers are more efficient, but I LOVE how convenient the stand up ones are. I can find my food so much easier and quicker. Having the chest freezer lid open for 10 minutes while you unpack and dig has to count for some energy waste right?

We just put the fishtanks lights on a timer and I think that’s saved us. Actually I should probably edit the timer so it’s a few hours less each day…

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13 My Debt Free Road May 16, 2012 at 10:02 am

Had no idea about the fridge in the garage. Very interesting. Probably won’t move it since it is too convenient to have it there. Definitely want to see the full list! Thanks for posting this!

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14 Shawanda @ You Have More Than You Think May 16, 2012 at 10:14 am

I’ve always been suspicious of the “the dishwasher uses less water than hand washing dishes” one. How much water are people using to hand wash dishes? If I only have a few dishes to wash, I run a small amount amount of water in the sink. All I need is a little water and soap to get the dishes clean.

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15 Sandy Webb May 16, 2012 at 10:53 am

I have to let you know that #2 is incorrect. I work in the HVAC industry and I believe at one point you did too. Closing the vents throws off the air balance and actually causes your unit to work harder therefore using more power.
I am so guilty of the refrigerator thing. Not only do I have one in my garage but during the summer months I have one out by the pool. Living in Arizona where the summer temps are well above 100 I know it costs a fortune. But the convenience of having cold beer right by the pool is worth it to me :)

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16 Ron May 16, 2012 at 11:01 am

If slate roofs didn’t cost so much (about 4-6 times as much) I would totally choose that material over shingles. They do last 100+ years so if you are planning to stay in your house that long it makes sense ;-)

I think you could bring the price down some by using synthetic slate… But, like anything else it all depends on the size of your roof and other variables.

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17 Katie lake May 16, 2012 at 11:28 am

We do several things that have helped. Draft guards are a huge one. Another was making curtains for most of the windows. I also made my husband cut off the outside lights at a certain time so it cuts down on the energy those use. Doing basic service to our air unit is another. We cut our bill from $400 to $119 last month.

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18 Nords May 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm

If you’re willing to invest for a payback then consider:
1. Energy-efficient windows with double panes, low-e glass, and tinting.
2. Thermal drapes or shades. (Usually cheaper & easier than upgrading windows.)
3. Replace an electric water heater with gas or solar.
4. Insulate your attic.
5. In hot climates, use reflective foil insulation in your attic or roof sheathing.
6. In hot climates, use solar-reflective asphalt shingles.
7. Get rid of that second fridge! If you can’t chill the beers fast enough with one fridge then you have a different problem…

If you’re raising teenagers, then evict them as soon as possible. Launching one teen from our nest dropped our electricity use by 40%.

And finally, when you’ve done everything you can to reduce your consumption, then install a photovoltaic array. Prices are cheaper than ever and you’ll never have to worry about utility inflation ever again. Federal/state incentives are generous, cheap home-equity financing is available, and some PV companies will lease the array to you (for “no money down”). Homebuyers are even starting to realize that PV arrays are an attractive feature worth paying more money for.

We’ve had our PV array for over seven years and it’s more than paid for itself. We make more electricity than we use, except when our teen visits. Electricity on Oahu costs over 32 cents/KWHr (more when oil prices go up), and the average electric bill is over $150/month.

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19 LB May 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm

To add to the idea of putting appliances on powerstrips to save money, I purchased those christmas light remotes so I don’t have to climb behind the tv or see the powerstrip. Very handy for those hard to reach areas.

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20 Joe @ Retire By 40 May 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Most of them are pretty logical. Our electric bill is about $60 now that we are not using heat. i guess it could go down a bit more.

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21 Crystal May 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Great tips! I’m just mind boggled by the amounts that some posters have said they pay for their electric bill. I live in L.A. and our electric bill is approximately $25-$30 a month. In the summer it goes up to about $35-$37 during super hot months. Granted, we are only a family of 3, but we live in a 1,400 square foot house and are heavy electronics people (video games, television, music, etc.). Strange how prices vary per region. There’s probably some sort of reason for this that I’m not aware of, but I’m not surprised by that, lol.

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22 Shannon-ReadyForZero May 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Thanks for sharing these tips! I was totally shocked by the dishwasher tip! I always felt guilty using my dishwasher, assuming I was using more energy. Good news that the opposite is true!

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23 J. Money May 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Glad y’all liked these. Even if some were a bit questionable :)

@Kevin – Nah, I never even did the follow up call to be honest with you. After reading the comments and talking it over with the wife, we decided to just end our search there and not waste any one’s time… I’m still super curious about the details of it all, but I also don’t want to be tempted again either as we’re def. not moving forward. We’ll be reconsidering once we move to a more permanent home and/or build one from scratch – and then it’s on!
@Amanda Talbert – Ahahhahaha… I can’t wait! ;)
@Money Beagle – I have no idea, but it sounds about right? :)
@Diane – Haha… what did electric ever do to you? ;)
@theCase – Ya never know ;)
@Stephanie – Oh yeah, for sure. I love how they’re called “Vampire drains” too, haha… that’s awesome.
@Emmy – Really? I’ve allllllways wanted a heated blanket but have never gone out and actually picked one up. I think cuz I never believed they actually *worked* all the way. Or I’d end up burning myself or something stupid, haha… but if YOU like them maybe I’ll give one a shot next winter? They sound so cozy!
@Jessica – I tend to pick convenience over energy saving too – I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world as long as you don’t overdue it in every area :)
@Shawanda @ You Have More Than You Think – It takes me forever to wash dishes by hand :( I get so hardcore about it, haha…
@Sandy Webb – Well I don’t know enough to argue one way or the other, but I certainly have never worked in the HVAC industry before :) I’d be willing to give it a shot and learn though! Haha…
@Ron – I would love to live 100+ years :) With or without slate!
@Katie lake – Wow, that’s incredible! Feel free to make me some curtains if you’re up for it – I just bought some black ones for my blogger dungeon, haha…
@Nords – You are always in the know when it comes to this stuff, I love it! And one day I’ll need to take a visit out there and check out your own system you’ve got going on :) Would be fun! Maybe you could help me build a house from scratch one day too – make a fun summer project out of it?
@LB – Haha, me too actually. I have one in our living room :)
@Crystal – Oh yeah, prices vary all over the place dependin on where you live – just like houses and what not :) My $300k place would cost $80k in other areas, it’s crazy.

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24 Lance@MoneyLife&More May 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Not putting the extra fridge in the garage is a great tip I hadn’t thought of. Although in Florida I don’t have a basement so if I had a second fridge I don’t know where I would put it.

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25 J. Money May 17, 2012 at 11:16 am

I always liked 2nd fridges in our houses growing up cuz they were the “sneaky” ones :) But now the thought of owning multiple appliances just gross me out… too much to maintain!

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26 Christa May 17, 2012 at 11:52 am

I do pretty well on this list except the shower/bath thing. I like baths once in a while. I think I’ll just have to suck it up and pay a little extra in the water and electric bill each month!

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27 Nick May 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

No fridge in the garage?!?! Then how will I make a ham sandwich when changing my oil?!?! That’s BS…

I think #2′s a bit too hard core for me too.

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28 Jace76 May 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Use a fan instead of an air conditioner. fans use alot lesss electricity.

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29 Long May 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I always thought LCD TV’s were more efficient than rear projections. Weird.

A year ago, my electric company switched out the old style meter to the new digital/wireless meter. Ever since then, I noticed my bill went down. I’m not sure if it’s reading more accurately or what, but I’m glad it’s doing whatever it’s doing.

I guess there has been some controversy on the accuracy on the new do-dads, but I think that if your utility company wants to install them, you should. If you’re really paranoid, you have the option of opting out, but they will charge you a steep fee to keep the old rotating meter.

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30 Jen @ Master the Art of Saving May 18, 2012 at 12:09 am

I’ve never heard about most of these before, glad you shared. Some of them I’m already doing, so it’s nice to know I’m on track.

As to the showers, I think it really depends on how long of a shower you take. Like last week, the shower drain was clogged and none of the water was going down—at all. By the time I was done, the water was almost up to the rim of the tub even though I kinda hurried to get out of the soapy lagoon.

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31 J. Money May 18, 2012 at 11:04 am

@Christa – I don’t think anyone could fault you for that :) I haven’t taken a bath in like, 15 years though, haha… I always forget that’s an option!
@Nick – Haha…
@Jace76 – I love fans! Esp when it’s rainy out side – so cozy.
@Long – Oh, cool. Glad your costs have gone down!
@Jen @ Master the Art of Saving – Ack! Then you need another “leg shower” to afterwards, haha…

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32 K. Akau April 11, 2014 at 5:15 am

How’z it gang! All I have too say is.I’m from Hawaii and almost all the Locals have two or more refrigerators and or freezers. We need one for beer and the others for big families. So at the end of the day we complain but we carry on. Aloha

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33 J. Money April 14, 2014 at 8:46 am

I think I’d like to attend one of your parties :)

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