Spend less money on bills; help the environment. Using less electricity at your home is a win-win for just about everyone. Reducing a monthly expense frees up more money to invest or save elsewhere. Reducing your carbon footprint helps you to do your part in preserving our beautiful world for future generations.
Whatever your motivation, using less electricity can have a real impact on your home and community, and doing it doesn’t have to be hard. With just a few, non-invasive changes, you can start saving money and the world.
- Get Smart About Heating & Cooling
- Get More Efficient with Lighting & Appliances
- Turning Off & Unplugging Appliances
- Dramatically Cut Your Electric Bill with Solar Energy
1. Get Smart About Heating & Cooling
Temperature control is consistently one of, if not the largest drains of electricity for American homes, comprising nearly 48% of the average homes energy use, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
As advancements are made in HVAC technology, new systems are becoming increasingly efficient. But our goal here is to help save you money and getting a new heating and cooling system may not be in the cards right now. However, there are some other things you can do to reduce how much energy your current system draws.
Make Sure You Change Your Air Filters Regularly
Air filters help remove dust, dirt, and pet dander out of the air we breathe, but failing to change them regularly could be driving up your electric bill. Clogged-up, dirty filters can block airflow from your system, which could cause your unit to work extra hard, drawing on more electricity to keep up.
For most homes, changing filters at least every three months is a good rule of thumb, but this depends on how many people and pets share the space. Take a look at your air filter every few weeks to make sure air can still easily pass through. You can also buy your air filters in a two- or three-pack, which will help ensure you have one on-hand when it’s needed.
Clear the Way for Proper Airflow
It’s important that air can flow freely from your rooms and the HVAC system. Anything blocking the vents can cause your HVAC system to work harder to compensate for the disrupted airflow. Move any items that are in front of supply and return vents, and make sure these vents remain open. Whether it be furniture, boxes, or curtains, blocking the airflow to and from your unit can result in up to 25% more energy being used to maintain the temperature of your home.
Keep Cool Air In (or Out) with Weatherproofing
As you know, the electricity it takes to keep your home warm or cool is expensive. There’s no reason that money should go to waste. But in drafty homes, it can quite literally fly right out the window. Whether it be window treatments, blinds, or weather stripping, a few small, inexpensive weatherproofing measures can help your home become more efficient.
Places to pay particular attention to are windows, doors, attics/garages, and exterior walls. Be sure to seal up any cracks that may be letting air escape outside and insulate wherever possible. For less than $20, you can buy caulk, a caulk gun, and weather stripping. This inexpensive fix could save you up to 20% on your electric bills.
Even something as simple as drawing the blinds or curtains can help keep warm or cool air from escaping. So, don’t worry about what your neighbors think. Keep those blinds closed when you’re at work or away for the weekend.
Adjust the Temperature with Smart Thermostats
Many homeowners are surprised by just how much they can save by making a small adjustment to the thermostat. For each degree you knock back your thermostat in an eight-hour period, you could save up to 1% on energy costs.
Making these adjustments while at work, out, or asleep can also reduce the impact it would have on your comfort. Or, just grab a blanket and a sweater and get used to the cooler air!
Investing in a programmable or smart thermostat can make this even easier. You can set the temperature to change throughout the day based on your energy goals, or with a smart thermostat, you can regularly adjust the temperature from a convenient app on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, no matter where you are.
However, if you have a multi-stage heat pump or electric elements for backup on your heat pump, don’t change your setpoint significantly, as this can actually take more electricity to heat the space back up.
2. Get More Efficient with Lighting & Appliances
While optimizing your heating and cooling system is a good place to start, it isn’t the only major use of electricity in your home. Energy-efficient alternatives for popular appliances and lighting continue to become more affordable and more efficient.
Use Energy Efficient Appliances & Equipment
Whether it’s a washing machine in your laundry room or a TV, making energy-conscious decisions when purchasing appliances can help save you money, and can reduce your carbon footprint.
When buying new appliances or equipment, keep in mind that they have two price tags: the one to make the initial purchase, and the one to keep that item running. While more efficient tools may cost more up front, they will likely make up for it and then some over the course of their lifetime, while also being better for the environment.
Look for appliances with the Energy Star logo, or ones that have an energy-saving or eco mode.
Replace Lights with LEDs or CFLs
If your home is still running on incandescent bulbs, you may be paying much more for electricity than you need to. While a lamp here and an overhead light there may not seem like a big contributor to your energy expenses or your carbon footprint, they could be using up to 80% more energy than alternatives.
LEDs and CFLs have come down in price substantially over the past few years, and with their much longer lifespan compared to incandescents, it’s easy to justify the higher upfront cost. A 12-watt LED bulb will last up to 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb and will use 25-80% less energy. The less-expensive CFLs are still a great alternative to incandescent, but have a shorter lifespan than LEDs.
If replacing all your lightbulbs in your home at once seems like a bit much, do it gradually. As each incandescent bulb burns out, replace them with a long-lasting and efficient LED. If you really want to take it to the next level, look into motion-sensing lights, so you don’t have to pay to light a room no one is in.
3. Turning Off & Unplug Appliances
Most of us are good about turning off devices when we’re not using them, like TVs and lights. However, even when they’re switched to “off” our devices continue to draw power, burning up greenhouse gasses and racking up our electricity bill.
According to a study, about a quarter of your bill could be power drawn from devices while you’re not even using them. That means a quarter of the money you spend on your electricity bill could be wasted.
Any device with an external power supply connected (chargers plugged in but not charging; TVs and cable boxes turned off; coffee makers not in use) will use electricity. While unplugging and replugging these devices may seem like a chore, you can keep things easy with surge protectors. With just the flick of a switch, you can control the power going to all the devices plugged into it at once.
This small habit could lead to big reductions in your monthly electric bill and carbon footprint.
4. Eliminate kWh Fees All Together with Solar Energy
One of the most substantial ways to reduce both your energy expenses and your carbon footprint is to invest in an alternative energy source.
One common alternative energy source is solar energy. Because of its relatively simple installation process and dependability, solar panels have become a popular way for homes to both save money and save the environment.
Depending on how much electricity you use, how much you pay for that electricity, and what incentives are available in your area, a solar energy system can save your home thousands of dollars over its 30+-year span. It can also dramatically shrink your carbon footprint.
With over 1,300 solar systems installed, it’s not typical for our customers to see double-digital ROIs on their solar investment. How does the return on a solar investment compare to other investments?
Studies have found that the average annual return on S&P 500 stocks are about 10%, but since 1998, returns have ranged from a high of 25% to a low of -38.5%. There are a lot of variables that go into making a good investment in the stock market. The only variables that go into making a good investment in solar energy? Increasing utility bills and the sun shining. Those are odds we’d take any day.
If you go solar with Paradise Energy, your solar system would be covered by our Triple Ten Guarantee, which includes a ten-year production guarantee. This guarantees the ROI of your investment in solar for the first ten years. If your solar system doesn’t produce what we predicted, we’ll write you a check for the difference.
In 2020, your home can go solar for 26% less thanks to the federal government’s Solar Investment Tax Credit. But in 2021, this tax credit steps back to just 22%, and in 2022, it goes away entirely for homes.
If you want to substantially decrease both your monthly electric bill and carbon footprint, this is the year to do it.