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How To Lower Your Electric And Other Utility Bills: Tips And Tricks

5-Minute Read
Published on March 15, 2021

Once you become a homeowner, you begin to understand your parents or other past heads of household more and more. And as you pay your utility bills each month, you may even begin to emulate their actions you saw growing up – like going around unplugging your electronics or reminding your kids to turn off the lights and “shut the dang door!”

Utility costs can be expensive, so it’s no surprise you may be looking for ways to reduce your energy use and lower your electricity bills. These tips and tricks can help you save each month.

What’s The Benefit Of Reducing Your Electricity Bill?

Reducing your electricity bill means you’ll save money each month. You can use this extra money to add a cushion to your budget, save for a big purchase, pay off debt or live more comfortably.

It also means you’re using less electricity, which has a positive impact on the environment and, in turn, your own health.

Tips For Lowering Your Electric Bill

Wondering how to lower your electric bill? Start by following these simple tips and tricks to reduce your electric use at home.

Make Sure Your Home Is Properly Sealed And Insulated

Improper insulation, broken seals and other sources of drafts can cause heated or cooled air to escape and warm or cold air to enter – making your air conditioner or furnace work harder and use more energy.

To make sure your home is properly sealed and insulated, look for signs of trouble. These may include walls and floors that feel damp or cold, fluctuating room temperatures, frozen pipes or insects or mice in your home. You’ll also want to check for drafts around your windows and doors and seal any gaps with weatherstripping, foam, caulk or door sweeps, depending on the source of the draft.

Check Your Fridge And Freezer

A full fridge and freezer can help regulate the temperature in these appliances, which can help you save energy. However, the best way to use less electricity is to check for leaks or broken seals that may be causing cool air to escape. Speaking of cool air escaping, refrain from opening the door unless you need something from the fridge and don’t keep the door open while preparing food or putting groceries away. It’s all about keeping the appliance cool and finding the right interior temperature. You’ll want to set the temperature of your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees and refrigerator between 36 and 38 degrees. Keep the appliance away from other heat sources and keep the top of the fridge clear, so it can release heat. Before putting leftovers away, give them some time to cool, so your fridge doesn’t have to work hard to cool them.

Unplug Unused Electronics

Just because something’s turned off, doesn’t mean it’s no longer using electricity. Many still draw what’s called “phantom energy,” and it can account for up to 10% of your electric bill. While some appliances need to remain plugged in (your fridge, for example), others can stay unplugged until they need to be used. This includes your coffeemaker, computer monitor or laptop, TV and cable box or chargers for your phone or other devices. To make it easier for you, plug electronics into a power strip, so you only have to turn off the power strip, not each device.

Install An Attic Fan

An attic fan keeps attics cool in the summer heat by drawing in cooler air and pushing out hot air. By keeping the attic cooler, it helps prevent more heat from coming into your living space and making your air-conditioning work harder to cool the area. When using an attic fan, make sure your vents are clear and your attic is sealed from the rest of the home, so the fan doesn’t pull the home’s air-conditioning into the attic, causing the air conditioner to work harder and defeating the purpose of the fan in the first place.

Install A Programmable Thermostat

Adjusting your home’s temperature just one degree can save you up to 1% of energy. Imagine what a few degrees each day will do. A programmable thermostat helps you regularly adjust your home’s temperature to fit your lifestyle and use less energy when you’re not around. You just set it and forget it. That means, you can use less energy when you’re at work or sleeping – times you won’t notice a shift in temps. With a programmable thermostat, you can schedule times you want to the home to be warmer or cooler and the thermostat will automatically adjust the temperature of the home at that time.

Switch To LED Lightbulbs

According to energy.gov, light emitting diode (LED) bulbs use at least 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and can last 25 times longer. In fact, by 2027, it’s predicted that the widespread use of LEDs could result in the “total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices.” Unlike incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, which release up to 90% of their energy as heat, LEDs emit only a small amount of heat. They also have a smaller impact on the environment than other bulbs.

LED lights are very common and switching them out is simple. You can find them at your basic grocery or box chain stores, home improvement stores or online. They come in normal size bulbs that will fit into your current light fixtures.

Use Timers

If you’re constantly forgetting to turn the lights or TV off before you go to bed or leave the house, consider using timers that automatically turn the power off in a room or outlet at a preset time. These also work great during holidays when you may have lights on outside.

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Other Ways To Lower Utility Bills And Conserve Energy

Electricity bills aren’t the only monthly utility bills you can lower. Read these tips to learn how to lower energy bills like your heating and water.

HVAC System

Your heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system (HVAC) is the hub for most energy use in the home, so of course this is a prime system to make improvements to in order to save on utilities. Here’s how. 

  • Get your HVAC system inspected and cleaned yearly, to spot potential issues and ensure it’s running at its most efficient.
  • Change your HVAC filters every 3 months to prevent dust and dirt from blocking the airflow and causing your system to work harder.
  • Keep your home at a moderate temperature.
  • Replace your old unit with a newer model with a high seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating.
  • Keep the areas surrounding your units free of debris, boxes and other items.
  • Inspect your ductwork for leaks and seal any you find.

Water Bill

Lowering your water bill requires you to take some easy actions to save water at home.

  • Take shorter showers.
  • Turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth or wash dishes.
  • Run only full loads of laundry and dishes.
  • Invest in Energy Star and WaterSense appliances and products.
  • Lower the temperature on your water heater a couple degrees.
  • Install a dual-flush system on your toilet.
  • Install faucet aerators.

Miscellaneous Tricks For Around Your Home

There’s even more you can do to use less energy in your home. Try these tricks to lower your bills even more.

  • In colder weather, open your curtains and shades during the day to let the sunlight help heat your home, and close them as soon as the sun goes down. In warm weather, do the opposite.
  • Wash laundry with cold water, which could save you up to $60 per year.
  • Use thermal, insulated curtains in the winter to block out drafts.
  • Reverse your ceiling fan each season. Have it run clockwise – or fan blades pushing down – to distribute warm air and counterclockwise – or fan blades pulling up – to create cooler air.
  • Replace old appliances and systems with new, energy-efficient ones.

The Bottom Line

By making small changes to your lifestyle and the appliances and systems in your home, you’ll not only save money, but also help save the environment. For more tips on conserving energy and reducing your bills, try out these ways to make your home more energy-efficient.

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Miranda Crace

The Quicken Loans blog is here to bring you all you need to know about buying, selling and making the most of your home. Whether you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner, selling your current home or looking to keep your place in tip-top shape, our writers and freelancers bring their experience and expertise to meet you right where you are.