How to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half: 10 Affordable Tips
It’s a point we’ve hit on many times before: cutting your power consumption is key to achieving energy independence. Whether you’re trying to live off-grid or control your household budget, we want to show you how to cut your electric bill in half.
Well, potentially half. With the way rates increase so frequently, your year-over-year bill change may vary, even if your consumption drops by half.
Add in the fact that no two homes are exactly alike and putting an exact number on general advice like this is next to impossible.
What we can say is that customers and others who have used these tips have seen substantial reductions their energy consumption, some up to 50 percent.
Perhaps the best part is that all of these tips are achievable for pretty much anyone. We selected them specifically to be either free or low-cost. These are practical solutions for real people with other things to do.
But first, let’s address one glaring question.
Why Wind & Solar Customers Care About Electric Bills
Last we checked, the breeze and sunlight remain free. So why exactly should our customers—or anyone who relies on wind or solar power—be invested in electric bills?
Several reasons, actually.
Remember that your electric bill is directly related to your electricity consumption. Gauging and controlling your electricity consumption, in turn, is directly related to the system capacity you need to achieve your power goals.
Whether your goal is to go completely off-grid or just to get maximum use out of grid-tied system, limiting your power consumption is a major part of achieving it.
The sun does not always shine, and sometimes the wind is stubbornly calm. While installing a hybrid wind and solar power system can go a long way toward picking up the slack, chances are good that you will still need to keep a close eye on your consumption.
Whether due to limits on your budget or appropriate space on your property, you will eventually hit a point where you can no longer expand your system. These tips are here to make sure that you can hit your power goals before that becomes an issue.
Keep the Sunlight Out
By far, the biggest demand on energy in your home comes from your heating and cooling systems. Statistics from the US Energy Information Administration indicate that over 40% of the average home’s energy use goes to heating and cooling.
Given that, many of our tips focus on keeping your home naturally cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
If you can keep the summer sun from coming in, you’ve already taken an appreciable step toward keeping your house cool when temperatures rise.
Hanging blackout curtains can take much of the bite out of hot temperatures, meaning whatever cooling system you use doesn’t have to work as hard in order to keep your space comfortable and safe.
As a bonus, they also reduce noise and offer unbeatable privacy.
Putting the curtains up is a simple process. Other than the curtains, you’ll need a rod, brackets, drill, screws, and a stud finder (or, alternatively, wall anchors appropriate for your wall’s material).
If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can even save some money by getting blackout fabric and sewing a sleeve along the top for the curtain rod to slide through.
Line Your Windows
Your windows are one of the main ways heat pours into or escapes your home. If you’re willing to do some light measuring and cutting, thin plastic film can do quite a bit to keep your home comfortable and your energy use low.
Most hardware stores carry window lining film that can better insulate your home, some of which also boast different finishes to increase your privacy or get a specific look.
By blocking out small drafts and heat loss through thin panes, the film makes sure your windows don’t lead you to bleeding out warmth you want to hold on to.
Application instructions vary by manufacturer, but most involve cutting the film to fit your window and frame, taping the sides of the film to the window frame, and using a hair dryer to get the film to adhere to the glass.
If you’re willing to measure the panes of your window separately, you can easily fit the film to ensure your window can still open when you need it to. Otherwise, loosening and re-attaching the film is a straightforward process.
Ceiling Fans for Cooling and Heating
If you leave it running 24/7, a medium-sized ceiling fan uses on average 12.91kWh per month. To put that in perspective, a 2-ton central air unit takes an average of 1450kWh a month. That’s more than a hundred times less consumption for the fan.
Those who have ever sprawled beneath a ceiling fan on a hot day know it can work wonders in terms of keeping you cool and comfortable, but often people pay them no mind in the colder months. But did you know your ceiling fan can keep you warm as well?
If you look on the housing of your ceiling fan, there should be a switch you may not have bothered with before. The switch changes the rotation of the fan to clockwise from counterclockwise.
Warm air rises and cool air sinks, and the clockwise rotation of the blades (combined with their fixed angle) draw that cool air up to the ceiling and displace the warm air, moving it down to you and your family closer to the floor.
Keep your fan set to low to avoid a windchill and to maximize the amount of time the air now at the ceiling has to take in more warmth.
The hardest part of this energy-saving trick is remembering to switch your fan back to counter-clockwise when the weather warms up.
Use Humidifiers in Winter
As anyone who has ever spent a summer in a humid locale can attest to, moist air is able to hold more heat than dry air.
You can replicate this effect (without the mosquitoes) by keeping a humidifier running in the winter months. This straightforward tip adds more moisture to the air, increasing its heat retention.
Even running constantly, a humidifier uses a fraction of the electricity of your heating system. If you’re trying to go off-grid—for which we don’t recommend using electric heating at all—this is an essential tool.
Just make sure to look carefully before you buy. Many humidifiers are made to emit cool, moist air. While the moisture will still have the desired effect, the cold air will somewhat defeat the purpose.
Lower Your Water Heater Temperature
Some people are fanatical about their showers. Temperature and water pressure must be finely tuned to ensure the optimum experience. If you’re willing to make a small change, you can see noticeable energy savings.
Your water heater is, on average, the second biggest drain on your home’s energy. Even a small reduction in your heater’s output can mean a major difference in your consumption.
You certainly don’t have to turn it down until your showers become miserable and frigid. This will take some experimentation to find the right setting to keep you both comfortable and energy efficient.
If you are in need of a solar or wind power diversion load, our submersible DC water heater elements can help while also taking some of the burden off of a grid- or gas-powered heating tank.
Install Water-Saver Showerheads
Efficient showerheads have come a long way since their first introduction, where they acquired a reputation for being weak and ineffective.
Models currently available are made specifically to address this criticism, and they provide great pressure and leave you feeling clean.
We don’t often associate showers with electricity use, but by taking longer to drain your water heater’s tank, these efficient showerheads effectively reduce your electricity demands every time you hop in the shower.
As always, we recommend doing your homework on anything before you buy. If you’re especially picky about your shower, cast a wide net and read a ton of product reviews before you make a decision. This is not really something you can test in a store.
Keep Your Fridge & Freezer Stocked to Save Energy
Compared to water heaters, air conditioners, and heaters, your refrigerator uses very little energy. However, your fridge represents about 4% of your home’s energy use, more than any other single appliance we haven’t listed yet.
Fortunately, there are ways to ensure your refrigerator performs to the best of its capabilities without requiring more juice.
Your refrigerator primarily works through conduction, meaning direct contact between the heating/cooling medium (in this case, both the air inside and the refrigerator’s shelving) and the food.
Conduction is a rather inefficient way of transferring heat. Since you can’t really put a fan in your fridge, the best way to boost its efficiency is to increase the amount of conduction.
By keeping your fridge stocked with cold food and drinks, you increase the amount of direct contact between everything you have in your fridge, multiplying your heat transfer.
Our lineup of refrigerators, fridge-freezer combinations, and chest freezers are specifically designed to work with renewable power sources, and keeping them full helps you get the most out of your appliance.
Organizing everything in your fridge is a different matter.
Cool Your Food Before Refrigerating
There are plenty of reasons to let your food cool before sliding it into the fridge. No one likes a melted plastic container, and by trapping steam and heat, you increase the amount of time food spends in the “danger zone” between 40 and 140 degrees, where bacteria thrive.
Additionally, letting your food cool reduces the amount of energy your fridge needs to maintain safe temperatures.
The thermostat in your fridge senses whenever the temperature rises above its setting and kicks on the motor in order to compensate for the difference in temperature. Putting steaming hot food in the fridge means it has to work harder.
Investing in some trivets or a cooling rack allows air to flow above and below your food, cooling quickly and letting you store your food safely and efficiently.
Hang Dry Your Clothes
Right behind refrigerators in the power-use rankings, your dryer presents a unique opportunity to drastically reduce your energy bill. You can greatly reduce or even eliminate your dryer usage, which you can’t really do with your HVAC or fridge.
If you have enough outdoor space to hang a laundry line, great. The breeze will dry your clothes surprisingly quickly. Even if you don’t, you can easily buy a laundry drying rack or set up an indoor line and your clothes will dry within a day.
Cutting out your dryer entirely can save you an average of 75kWh a month. As an additional bonus, it’s gentler on your laundry, meaning your clothes, sheets, towels, and more last longer, so you save money there, too.
Cut Out Phantom Power
If you’re like most people, you don’t go around unplugging everything in your home before you go to bed. It’s not usually part of our routine. But maybe unplugging some appliances should become something you do regularly.
Most everything you have plugged in still draws power even when they’re turned off. The amounts vary greatly—some pull as little as one watt—but others pull much more, even when they’re in so-called “sleep mode.”
If you look at an item’s power cord and it features a small box or tube called a transformer, chances are it’s drawing quite a bit of energy while it’s off.
Get in the habit of unplugging things like phone chargers, blenders, coffee makers, toothbrushes, and more. Basically, if it’s not needed and easy to unplug, go ahead and unplug it.
We saved this simple tip for last in part because it exemplifies the underlying philosophy of this whole list: small changes add up. If there were one single thing we could all do right now to halve our electricity consumption, we would all have done it.
Maximizing your efficiency is about small savings on the margins that alone may not do much, but together they can make a big difference.
When you can power a greater portion of your day-to-day life with wind and solar energy, you save money and further free yourself from the power grid.
How much electricity does the average US household use?
According to 2015 statistics, the average US home uses 10,812kWh a year, roughly 901kWh a month.
What is a kilowatt-hour (kWh)?
A kilowatt-hour (kWh) measures your energy use (check your bill if you have one, you’ll see). A kWh is the amount of energy required to keep a 1,000-watt appliance running for an hour. A 50-watt lightbulb uses 1kWh in 20 hours, a 4,000-watt appliance uses a kWh in 15 minutes.
What heat sources do you recommend that don’t use the electricity grid?
We often recommend our customers pursue a grid-tied system, since heating and cooling is both a necessity and a huge power drain. For those who don’t want to be tied to the grid, a gas-powered heating system is the next safest bet.