Updated: May 9
If you’re looking for help affording your electric bill beyond an income-based energy bill assistance program like LIHEAP, we have ten practical suggestions for lowering your monthly power costs.
The FTC has guidance for what to do if you can’t afford to pay your utility bills, and also how to reduce your monthly costs, so whether you’re struggling because of the COVID-related disruption in our economy, or just looking for ways to be more frugal, ample information is available from the government as well.
Let’s get started:
1. Become Energy Bill Savvy. Knowing how to read your monthly bill accurately means you’ll know how to spot an error and how to best focus your efforts to reduce costs. Your state’s public utilities commission has standards and guidelines for electricity providers to follow.
2. Know How to Spot a Scam. The AARP offers a list of tips on preventing energy fraud, including unexpected visitors claiming to be from utility companies; demands for payment to avoid immediate disconnection; and requests for payments using bitcoin or prepaid cash cards.
3. Consider Investing in Smart Plugs. If you’re serious about monitoring and managing down your electricity costs, using a smart outlet like the Wemo may be right for you. It can pinpoint the appliances, lights, or other power-consuming items in your home contributing to the cost of your electric bill.
4. Switch to LED Bulbs. According to Energy.gov, LED bulbs consume 75% less electricity than standard incandescent bulbs. There are certain settings that require special lighting setups. Workshops are one of those places. Not only do advancements in technology allow them to provide a better, brighter light, but they also save you money while they’re at it.
5. Run Appliances Later at Night. Utility companies refer to this as Off-Peak Hours, meaning the time when there is not the greatest demand for energy. In Texas, XCel Energy set peak hours from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm, so be sure to avoid running your dishwasher and similar high-consumption appliances during those hours if possible.
6. Change Your Air Filter. A regular monthly change will help improve energy efficiency of your HVAC unit, reducing operating costs and improving air quality. Air filters play a vitally important role in your air conditioner, so it’s important to pay close attention to them. While there are guidelines regarding what type of filters to purchase and the frequency with which they need to be changed, these factors can change based on your particular environment.
7. Wash Cold, Line Dry. When possible, avoid paying to heat the water used to wash your clothes by using a cold water temperature setting on your washing machine. Likewise, line dry the items you can. A less crowded dryer will function more efficiently, therefore reducing dry time and lowering your electricity bill as well.
8. Optimize Your Fridge’s Performance. Allow air to flow around it by not crowding air circulation around top, bottom, and sides. Clean the coils on the back several times a year. Regularly clear out unwanted food to improve air flow inside. Follow EnergyStar temperature guidelines for your refrigerator: set it 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. Air Dry Dishes. By allowing dishes to air dry, the costly heated dry mode of your dishwasher is avoided.
10. Reduce AC Usage. When not at home, turn off the air conditioner if possible. When at home, consider using a fan to feel up to 15 degrees cooler while reducing air conditioning consumption.
11. Try to make the most of natural light. Make the most of natural light in your home by setting up your office in the room that gets the most daylight. Open the blinds and curtains and let the sunshine in. You’d be surprised how quickly your eyes can adjust to natural light, even if it seems a bit dim at first. Also be sure to turn off the lights in any rooms which you aren’t using. Daylight is free, after all.
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