Cut Your Electric Bills Painlessly

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last 6-10 times longer.

When Mom told you to turn out the lights, she was thinking of saving energy dollars, not rolling blackouts and bankrupt utility companies. Electricity rates are going up everywhere, and these few simple tricks can save you a bundle.

Besides switching off lights that you are not using, there are several other painless methods to conserve energy and save money on your electric bills.

General Tips

  • Unplug all infrequently used electrical and electronic devices, e.g., calculators, rechargers, alarm clocks, TVs and VCRs.
  • Lower thermostat temperature a few degrees.
  • Increase air conditioner start temperature a few degrees.
  • Use ceiling fans for cooling and turn them off when you leave the room.
  • Use power bars for computer systems and entertainment systems so you can power off the entire system with one switch.

Dishwasher

  • Fill up your dishwasher before running it.
  • Air dry dishes by propping open the door after the cycle is finished. If you have a heat dry option, switch it off.

Stove and Oven

  • Turn off ovens and electric stoves a few minutes before the end allotted cooking time. The heating element will stay hot long enough to finish the cooking without using more electricity.
  • Cook with pot lids on.
  • Use an electric kettle for boiling water; it is more efficient than using a pot.
  • Use the right size pot and cook on an appropriately sized element.

Washer and Dryer

  • Wash clothes in cold or warm water.
  • Rinse clothes in cold water.
  • Remove dryer lint after every load.
  • similar weight fabrics together: separate loads into light-, medium- and heavyweight items.
  • Air dry clothes on a clothesline, clothesrack or hangers.

Refrigerator

Refrigerators deserve special attention because they use more power than any other appliance in the home. Rushing out to buy a new refrigerator may not be in your budget, but it is important to know that new models are more efficient and use as little as half the electricity of older units.

  • Full refrigerators run more efficiently than partially-full ones.
  • If you have two refrigerators, or an additional freezer, decide whether the extra expense is really worth it. Cram as much as you can into your primary refrigerator or consider disposing of two older refrigerators and replacing them with one larger, newer and more efficient model.
  • Make sure the refrigerator door seals are tight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replacing.
  • Store food and liquids in airtight containers. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Move the refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils yearly unless you have a noclean condenser model. Refrigerators will run for shorter periods with clean coils.
  • Maintain a consistent temperature in the refrigerator and freezer. Recommended temperatures are 37-40 degrees F for the fresh food compartment and 5 degrees F for the freezer. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0 degrees F.

Lighting

  • Turn off lights that are not being used. Consider installing timers or photo cells on some lights. And instead of constantly nagging the kids, try occupancy sensors that turn on and off automatically when someone enters or leaves a room.
  • Rather than brightly lighting an entire room, focus the light where you need it. For example, use LED under-cabinet lighting for kitchen sinks and countertops
  • Consider dimmer switches and three-way lamps. These provide low light levels when bright lights are not necessary.
  • Use LED lights.  LED lamps are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs and even fluorescent and compact fluorescent lights. They also last much longer.