Do you dread getting your electric bill each month?
I know I do sometimes, especially when it’s been really cold or really warm out and we’ve had to run the heat or air more than usual.
Finding ways to save on electric might be on your to-do list, especially when you’ve got a growing family. The more you can cut down on energy costs, the more money you have to save or pay down debt, right?
But the good news is, there are some things you can do to cut your electric bill by a third or more. And they don’t require you to completely change your family’s lifestyle either.
I know because since I live on a single mom budget, I’ve tried them all. So here are eleven money-saving ideas for reducing energy use and lowering your utility costs.
1. Invest in a programmable thermostat
You probably know that turning your thermostat down in winter and up in summer can help you save on electric. The less the system kicks on, the less energy you burn.
But you might have kids (like mine) who like to fiddle with the buttons. My son once turned the auxiliary heat on and it ran for two days straight before I realized it. And that did me zero favors in the saving money department.
Spending a few bucks on a programmable thermostat means you can set it and forget it.
F0r example, you can set your house to be cooler at night during the winter, then have the heat kick on when you get up in the morning. Or if you’re planning a family vacay, you can program it to keep your home cooler or warmer as needed while you’re away.
If you don’t have extra cash to spend on a thermostat, you can always try this recommended tip from the Department of Energy. Set your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees lower than you normally would for 8 hours a day to save up to 10% on energy costs.
2. Change your air filters regularly
Your air filter helps clean out all the junk that’s floating around in your home’s air–dust, dirt, pet hair. Basically, a bunch of gross stuff you don’t want to breathe in.
Changing out your air filters regularly can help keep your heating and air system running smoothly.
I didn’t really get why my dad used to nag me about this when I bought my first home. But I could see the difference in our electric bills when I got behind on handling this little bit of home maintenance.
Pick a date each month or every other month to change your filters and put it on the calendar. And if you want to save money on air filters, consider buying in bulk on Amazon or in-store, since that can shave a little off the per-unit price.
Bonus tip: Use Honey if you’re shopping for filters on Amazon
Honey is a browser extension that’s free to download. When you shop for items on Amazon, Honey scans the web for promo codes and discounts, then applies them for you automatically for extra savings.
3. Charge in the car
This is an easy hack to save on electric that I had never heard of until a few months ago.
Instead of charging everything in the house, you charge your phone or tablet in the car while you’re out running errands.
The beauty of this strategy is that you can get a good car charger for just a few bucks and charge everything on the go. And you can make up for the money you spend on a charger in electric savings each month.
Just make sure you’re reviewing car chargers to find one that’s compatible with all your devices.
4. Use smart power strips
If you do have to plug things in at home, a power strip can be your best friend for saving on electric.
You can plug in several things at once and some even let you charge USB devices at the same time. It’s a simple way to streamline energy use and cut down on utility bills.
5. Unplug and turn off the lights
Unplugging has to be the most insanely simple way to save on electric but it’s something a lot of people overlook.
You might think, how much energy can something use if it’s just plugged in? But the answer is a lot.
Getting into the habit of unplugging and turning off lights can take a little time. And it can be especially tough when you’ve got forgetful kids who like to leave every light in the house burning.
But challenge yourself to unplug anything you’re not using for one month. Then, compare your electric bills to see how much of a difference it makes.
And remember, you can simplify things by plugging into a power strip. Then you just have to unplug the power strip instead of fiddling with multiple plugs.
6. Upgrade your lightbulbs
If you haven’t made the switch to LED bulbs yet, you’re missing out.
According to the Department of Energy, LED bulbs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 25 times longer.
That’s a win-win because you’re burning less energy and you have to replace them less often, which is a double savings boost.
So consider spending a little money swapping out your old energy-draining bulbs for energy-saving LED ones. Just like with air filters, consider purchasing bulbs in bulk to save a few bucks.
7. Time your energy use
Did you know that your electric company can charge you more for energy use at certain times of day than others?
That was a surprise to me but it makes sense. If more people are doing laundry or running the dishwasher at certain times of day, then of course the electric company’s going to try to cash in.
So how do you get around that? Simple. You reserve chores that use a lot of electricity for off-peak times.
For example, that might mean waiting until after 8 or 9 pm to do laundry or run the dishwasher. Now, does doing laundry that late at night sound like a good time?
Not really. But if you want to save on electric it’s worth considering making a change to your regular routine.
Bonus tip: Always run full loads.
If you want to make sure your washing machine or dishwasher is operating at max energy efficiency, stick to running full loads. Doing only half a load at a time wastes water and energy, which means more money spent.
8. Make or buy wool dryer balls
Speaking of doing laundry, there are other ways to save money and energy. One of them is investing a few dollars in a drying rack or clothesline and letting your clothes air dry.
But that’s not always realistic, depending on where you live or how much laundry your family typically has.
So using dryer balls is a good (and cheap) energy-saving solution. Dryer balls help to separate your clothes so they dry faster, which means you don’t have to run the dryer as long.
I like these wool dryer balls because you can add essential oils to them to make your laundry smell good. But if you can’t spend money on dryer balls, check out this easy guide to making them out of felted wool.
9. Turn down your hot water heater
I love a hot shower as much as the next person but I also love finding ways to save on electric.
According to Energy.gov, setting your hot water heater temperature too high can cost you hundreds of dollars per year. Turning down the temperature on your hot water heater a few degrees could trim money off your energy bills each month.
Specifically, keeping it at 140 degrees Fahrenheit could save you between 4% and 22% in energy costs. There’s a handy tutorial here on how to adjust your hot water heater’s temperature so you can start saving money.
10. Put your ceiling fans to work
Using ceiling fans is a simple way to save on electric that doesn’t cost you anything if you already have them installed.
Letting fans run can help keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Just make sure you’ve got the blades going the right away.
In summer, you’ll want to set your fan to spin counterclockwise so cool air gets pushed down. In winter, you’ll set them clockwise to push warm air (remember, heat rises) back down.
11. Use weather-stripping to seal up energy leaks
Weather-stripping is another cheap and easy fix for cutting energy costs.
For just a few bucks, you can get foam weather stripping to seal around windows and doors. By closing off air leaks, you can keep cold air from seeping in during the winter months and escaping during the summer when you’re running the AC.
Do you have an awesome tip for how to save on electric? Head to the comments and share it!
And check out some of my best money-saving posts before you go: