Tips for Saving Money on Electricity

Posted by in Alternative & Eco-Living, Articles | 19 comments

I’ve been working on reducing my electricity bills this year and I’m proud to say I’ve slashed them in half. Prior to moving back into an apartment, we were paying about $180 per month on electricity alone. Some of that was due to living in an inefficient rental house with drafty windows and half the house wired onto one breaker. Yet, some of that expense was due to my own behavior. Behavior that cost me quite a bit of money.

Here’s what I knew I had to change to save some bucks:

  • My home office. We have two desk tops, one lap top, one netbook, one external share drive, one battery backup, and two printers. That’s a lot of plugged-in gear.
  • Home temperature. We finally have central air and very good insulation, this isn’t so much my behavior as just making a better choice.

Keeping the computers on all night long was thought to be better for them. Mr. LH always assumed that is helped them retain their memory, or something to that effect. Having them hooked up to our battery pack showed us that they were energy suckers that were draining our bank accounts. Now every night we turn off the computers. We’ve also gotten into the habit of keeping the printers and laptop off until we need to use them. No point in wasting energy for things that aren’t being used.

For five years we lived in a rental house without central air. Most of the year, it wasn’t a problem. However, during July and August when a high of 90’s to 100-degree day hit, we’d swelter even though our window unit would run at maximum capacity. Lacking any insulation, the window unit only cooled about 5 feet of the room it was in. Choosing to move to a newer apartment with central air and really good insulation has resolved this problem. Not only do we not need to run our air very often, we can set the thermostat to 79 degrees and stay quite cool. Purchasing a sun shade for our west-facing patio has also helped tremendously. It’s one of the reasons we can set the thermostat so high, yet remain so cool.

Reducing our monthly electric bill from $180 to $90 has only inspired me to keep on finding ways to conserve electricity.

What do you do to save on monthly utility bills?

19 Comments

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  1. MoneyCone

    Very nice LH! I’m on a similar journey! Started out with replacing all (ok, almost all) incandescents with CFLs… now waiting for the energy bill!

    Cutting your electricity bill in half is awesome!

  2. Amanda L Grossman

    I’ve never actually heard that it would be good for computers to keep them on all night; I know it’s not good to turn them on and off a lot…

    That is great that your electricity is sliced in half! We typically pay $50-$70 in the winter months, and $100-$170 in the summer months for our home (two stories, Houston, TX). We unplug everything except the refrigerator, fishtank, and two lamps on our bedstands when we aren’t using electronics. We also only run 2 loads of laundry per week (three once a month or so). I want to install a clothes line I purchased several months ago (it will go in our garage as you cannot put clotheslines up in our neighborhood). That should help even more! We also just renovated our two downstairs bathrooms and put in low-flow toilets (our last ones would run all night if we didn’t jiggle the handle, which we repeatedly forgot to do).

    Keep up the great savings!

    • Little House

      @Amanda – I installed a rod over our washer and dryer and try to hang-dry a few items, like shirts. Over all we don’t do a whole lot of laundry during the summer months. But, even with having a washer/dryer in our unit, we’re saving more than before!

  3. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

    We try to turn off as much as we can. This includes our computers, lights, chargers, etc. We have also been using fans this year instead of air conditioning which also saves a ton of money and energy. Great post. Glad to hear you are reaping some rewards from these changes.

  4. Suba

    We have been doing some cutting using the Kill-a-watt thing. Our main sucker was a laser printer. Now we keep that switched off until we need that.

  5. Heather

    We haven’t had savings *that* drastic, but the A/C and the pool pump are both pretty big drains.

    We very rarely use the clothes dryer — once every 3-4 months, maybe? We’re on a “time of use” plan with the electric company, so we pay less for using energy during off-peak hours. Pool pump, hot water heater, laundry only run during off-peak hours. If we use the dishwasher (usually we wash by hand), we run that during off-peak hours and don’t run the dry cycle.

    When we needed a new oven, we bought a double oven — a little one perfect for a cookie sheet or casserole dish with a normal-sized one underneath. Since we never bake anything tall, we’ve only needed the little oven so far.

    The A/C is set at 80 during the day, 82 at night. Vampires are all unplugged (I think). Appliances/electronics are only turned on when we are using them.

    Without some major adjustments, I don’t think we’re going to get the bill down any further.

    • Little House

      @Heather -It sounds like you have your energy usage under control. I wish our utility company would offer off-peak prices. I think we’d be able to trim even more off our bill!

  6. 101 Centavos

    Nicely said, LH. We make a conscious efforts to pull the drapes over the windows, and turn off lights and appliances. Besides burning juice, a 100W bulb also puts out heat, which makes the A/C work harder.

    • Little House

      @101 Centavos – We changed most of our bulbs out a while ago and most of our recessed lighting in CFL I believe. Very little heat gets emitted from our lighting. And I love our sun shade, it keeps the late afternoon sun out of our living room!

  7. mbhunter

    Not about electricity necessarily but we use soaker hoses for watering our garden instead of a sprinkler. Less water evaporates on the way out of the soaker hose than out of a sprinkler.

  8. Jeff @ Sustainable life blog

    Lowering your bill by half is pretty good. To keep mine down, I make sure to turn the lights off and unplug things that are not being used. I dont have AC, so I just use a large fan, but only at night.

  9. Theresa Torres

    Hi LH,
    That’s wonderful that you were able to reduce your electricity bill to half. This year, I was also able to do that. My main energy drain was our refrigerator so since we live near a wet market, I’ve decided to unplug it and just buy the produce that we need daily. I had to give up on some items and find other alternatives but it’s worth it since now I’m able to save a lot.

  10. Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer

    Our bill went down significantly when my son moved out; he must wasted all kinds of power.

    We now unplug most appliances that are infrequently used including the printer. I don’t turn off my computer at night, but it does go into sleep mode.

    • Little House

      @Kay Lynn – I wonder if your son’s behavior has changed now that he’s living on his own? It’s really eye-opening seeing how much we use now to what we were using a few months ago!

  11. Grady Pruitt

    People just don’t seem to realize how much electricity a computer uses — especially a desktop. They use a TON, especially if they’re on all the time.

    Another benefit to turning them off, especially if you have an “always on” internet connection like DSL or cable, is that it is more secure. If your computer is on all the time, then it is open to threats if you are not at the computer. But if your computer is turned off (Modem too, for that matter), then you won’t be affected by it.

    My wife likes to save money by keeping things we don’t use often, like the toaster, blender, and microwave, unplugged when they are not in use. This way, they’re not drawing electricity unless they are needed.

    On the subject of electricity, having up to date appliances that are energy star efficient can really help. We recently replaced our washer and our dishwasher, and noticed a bit of savings with each.

    One thing you can do with water is add a brick to the fill tank… The brick takes up a little bit of space, leaving less room needed to be filled up with water ;)

    Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Little House

      @Grady -Thanks for sharing some of your tips as well. We do notice a difference with our energy star appliances as well. Our old rental house had really old appliances and toilets as well that probably didn’t help reduce our bill. Now, our low-flow toilets and shower heads help reduce our water bill and our behavior is helping to reduce our electric bill!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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