Every device and appliance in your home requires a certain amount of energy in order to operate, just as your body needs food and water to survive. However, most individuals are paying more money on the energy bills than they need to be. In fact, higher prices on energy bills are most often the result of several inefficiencies and simple mistakes that can be easily rectified with a little input of time and effort.
Turn Lights Off
When you are looking to reduce your monthly energy bill, the first practice you should build into your routine is to turn off all lights when you are not using them. First, avoid turning on any lights during the day where you have windows in the room. Instead, open up the curtains or blinds and let the natural light flow into your space. The room will still be lit, and you are not using power from electricity.
Leaving unnecessary lights on uses more electricity than you might think. In fact, many claim that two inefficient light bulbs will use the same amount of power as a large computer. When you are using lights inside your home, turn them off when you leave the room. Using energy-efficient light bulbs will go a long way as well.
Unplug Unused Devices
There are a number of appliances, such as your refrigerator, that you need to leave plugged in at all times. However, countless devices do not need to be plugged in when you are not using them. This includes microwaves, toaster ovens, kettles, and computers.
Leaving devices like these ones when they are off (or when your laptop is finished charging) still uses electricity—this is called phantom power. Unplugging these devices will decrease the price of your energy bill. If you do not wish to unplug them, you can purchase power bars or strips that will cut off the power when they finish charging.
Turn to Alternatives
You may not realize it, but your air conditioning and heating can result in near astronomical energy bills if you are overusing them. Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to reduce their impact. First, consider turning off the air conditioning when you are going to be out of the house.
Additionally, avoid turning up the air conditioning or heating. In fact, you should actually turn the temperature down (or up, in the case of AC) instead of turning it on in the first place. Even a few degrees difference can reduce your energy bill. If you get cold in the winter, put on a sweater instead. In the heat of the summer, try shorts and a t-shirt instead of long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
If the heat or cold is too much to handle after altering your use of air conditioning, heating, and clothing choices, you still have options. Using a fan or small space heater, while they do use some electricity, are much more energy efficient than air conditioning and heating. Run the fan when you are home to get the air circulating. In the case of a space heater, you often only need to run it for 10 to 15 minutes before the room is heated to a comfortable temperature.
Check Before You Sleep
Just as you might check to see that you locked your door before you go to sleep, walk around your apartment to make sure that you turned off all your lights and unplugged all of the appliances and devices that can be unplugged. Leaving a light on, or a device plugged in, throughout the entire night raises your energy bill unnecessarily. You are asleep and not using any of these things, so taking a minute to check on them before you turn in for the night will save you a lot of money that need not go to waste.
Only Run Full Loads
Everyone has to do dishes and laundry, so running the dishwasher and laundry machines is unavoidable. However, make sure that you only run full loads so that you are not running the machines twice as often. Running them twice as often means you are using twice as much energy. Additionally, consider using cold water for your laundry instead of hot whenever possible. Heating water takes up a lot more energy that not heating it—so using cold water will save you energy!
Despite your best intentions, and even if you only run your large appliances on full loads and using other best practices, old and inefficient laundry machines and dishwashers still use quite a bit of power. As such, these machines add a lot onto your energy bill.
This is why upgrading your appliances can have a huge impact on your total energy bill. Look for energy efficient appliances to replace the old. These will be marked in the store, an example being Energy Star certified products. Combined with only running full loads, upgrading your appliances to newer and more energy efficient models reduce the impact on your energy bill. This may cost more upfront, but in the end, you will save money.
Weatherproof Your Home
An old adage says most of your body heat will escape through your head—and while scientists have debunked this myth, there is still some truth that we can glean from it. During the cold winter months, it is logical to bundle up with winter coats, boots, mittens, scarves, and hats in order to stay warm. It takes less energy to heat your body when you are bundled up that way.
This idea applies to houses during the cold winter months in a similar way. To avoid expending unnecessary power in order to heat your home, the main goal is to retain heat—it should not escape once you have heated the house. There are a few ways that you can do this. One is to have windows with double pane glass, which makes it harder for heat to leave. Some will still escape, but less will be able to get out with two panes of glass. Additionally, you can caulk cracks in the edges of windows, and seal windows with a special insulator plastic. Leaving cracks open in the winter is akin to not wearing a hat or mittens, or letting any other part of bare skin show.