The United States is the world’s biggest consumer of electricity in terms of per capita usage. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average residential customer uses approximately 909 kilowatts per hour every month or around 10,909 per year.
How much Americans actually use depends on where they live, as you might expect, with residents in the East South-Central region (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee) using the most electricity and those in Alaska and Hawaii use the least.
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As of October 2019, the average U.S. rate for electricity is 13.27 cents per kilowatt-hour. Rates vary by state, with Hawaii being the highest at 31.42 cents per kilowatt-hour and the state of Washington coming in at the lowest at 9.42 cents.
The average American home uses 41 percent of their energy on space heating and 35 percent on appliances, electronics, and lighting. However, no matter where you live, especially as cooler temperatures settle in, you are probably looking for ways to save on your electricity bill.
Here are 10 ways to cut your electric bill in half (or close to it).
1. Replace Older HVAC Systems and Appliances With Energy-Efficient Models
The federal government has given Energy Star labels to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems that use less energy. Energy Star gas furnaces can save you 12 to 16 percent on your heating bill.
Energy Star central air conditioning units can save around 8 percent over conventional models. Upgrading your ventilation system with new ductwork can lower heating and cooling expenses by up to 20 percent.
Additionally, Energy Star washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, and dehumidifiers reduce energy usage by both lowering the amount of power and water needed, which reduces the amount of energy required to heat water.
2. Use A Programmable Thermostat
You can lower your electric bill by resisting the urge to turn up the heat or turn the thermostat down throughout the day. A programmable thermostat will make the changes automatically, saving you money while keeping your home at the temperature you prefer.
Program it for lower temperatures while you are away from home and when you are asleep, and you will save even more.
3. Install Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs, Power Strips, and Showerheads
You will pay for the small cost of upgrading light bulbs, power strips, and light switches in no time due to the lower energy consumption they bring. For instance, an LED light bulb can use as much as 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb and can last up to 25 times longer.
Other money savers are dimmer switches, motion detector lights, low-flow showerheads, and advanced power strips for your electronics. A traditional shower head has a flow of about five to eight gallons of water every minute. A low-flow head flows at 1.6 to 2.5 gallons per minute, saving you money in hot water.
4. Weatherize Your Home
Insulation enables your home to maintain its heat during the cold winter months and its cool during the hot summer months. Improper insulation can cause your heating and cooling dollars to literally fly out the window.
Investigate for leaks around windows, doorways, and vents and then eliminate or reduce the problem with caulk, plastic sheeting, or weather stripping. Common areas to insulate your home are the attic, basement, walls, floors, pipes, and crawlspaces.
You can also wrap extra insulation around pipes to prevent them from freezing and to keep your water heater from having to work so hard.
5. Adjust Your Daily Routines
Energy savings can add up when you make some simple changes in your behavior at home. Your TV, desktop and laptop computers, internet router, and kitchen appliances (such as toasters and microwaves) all use energy when they are plugged in. To cut your electric bill significantly, use power strips for these items and turn them off when the electronics are not needed.
Here are a few other simple yet money-saving tips.
- Turn off lights when you leave a room.
- Shut doors to rooms that do not need to be heated or cooled.
- Hand wash dishes more often. Only use the dishwasher for full loads and turn off its heated dry cycle.
- Line dry clothing items to save on dryer costs.
6. Wear Comfortable Clothing
Instead of changing the thermostat, change your clothes. Dress in layers that can be added on or taken off, and more or fewer blankets to help stay cozy in bed.
7. Clean Or Replace Your Air Filter
A dirty HVAC filter that is filled with things like dust, pollen, lint, and animal hair can cause your system to work inefficiently. Make it part of your routine to clean or change the filter at least once every three months.
8. Clean Dryer Vents And Refrigerator Coils
The average refrigerator can use between 200 kWh and 500 kWh per year, depending on the size and type. These significant energy users run far less efficiently when their coils are dirty. Clean them at least twice a year.
9. Lower The Temperature Of Your Water Heater
The ideal temperature for heaters to be set at is 120 degrees Fahrenheit, but many heaters are set higher. By lowering the thermostat on your water heater by just a few degrees, you can save money without even realizing the difference. If you will be away from home for a vacation, you can save even more by turning the heater off.
10. Use Energy-Hungry Appliances Strategically
You can maximize the heat in your dryer by drying loads consecutively rather than waiting for the machine to cool off. Maximize hot water use by using your dishwasher only for full loads. Use cold water to wash clothes in your washing machine.
Turn your electric stovetop or oven off a few minutes before your food is done cooking. The heat that has built up will continue to cook your food while you shave several dollars off your annual electric costs.
Bonus Tip: Generate Your Own Electricity
Probably the most effective way to cut your electricity bill is by developing your own ways of generating power. Here are some ideas:
If you live in an area with year-round sunshine, rooftop solar panels might be a good option for you. You can use the panels to augment or replace your dependence on electricity. Depending on the type of panel your install and how many appliances you have, an average 2,000-square-foot home needs about 4,000 watts, which would require 12 to 18 solar panels.
The cost of purchasing and installing a solar system big enough to power your home is high. However, a solar system requires little maintenance after installation. Another downside is that you will not generate power on cloudy days or at night.
Another option is to use solar energy to power certain areas of your property, such as outbuildings, outdoor lights or gates.
Another way to generate electricity for your homestead is by harnessing the wind. The first step is to find out the average wind speed in your area by contacting your local weather service. Keep in mind that wind speeds can vary even within a relatively small geographic region, depending on changes in the topography.
Windspeed usually is higher and more consistent at higher altitudes, so wind turbine towers often are 100 feet tall or more. Wind turbines require more maintenance than solar panels, but they do allow you to harness clean energy 24 hours a day as long as there is a steady flow of wind.
A 400-watt turbine can power a couple of appliances and requires a four-foot-diameter rotor. A 10,000-watt turbine, which can generate power for the average home, would need to be mounted on a 100-foot-tall or better tower. Obviously, not every homeowner has that kind of space.
Do you have running water on your property? Then hydropower might be a power source for your home. Micro hydroelectric power systems work in the same overall way as wind turbines operate; they just use running water instead of wind.
An advantage of hydropower is that the flow of water in a river or stream is usually more consistent than either the sun’s rays or the wind. A downside is the cost of installation and the particular water conditions that are needed.
Iceland is able to meet one-fourth of its electrical needs with geothermal power, harnessing the heat from below the earth’s surface. Other countries that are using this form of clean energy are China, Sweden, and New Zealand, and it is slowly gaining momentum in the U.S.
The current high cost of installation makes it a considerable drawback for most U.S. homeowners at this time. however.
A significant way to lower energy costs is by using energy-efficient building materials, often known as passive living.
With the right materials, you can use your roof, walls, floors, windows, and landscaping to heat and cool your home. One simple aspect of passive home design includes protecting south-facing windows from the summer heat and then harnessing those same warming rays in the winter to heat your home. Passive design also can involve changing the color of your roof so it can better cool or warm your home.
Planting trees that will provide shade for your home can help you save on both heating and cooling. Decreasing the amount of rock and cement around your home is another way landscaping can help with energy efficiency.
As you can see, there are many ways to save money on electricity. You’ll have to make a financial investment upfront by purchasing things like LED lights, solar panels, and low-flow showerheads, but over time you will save hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
Find out what your power bill was for the same month last year and try to make it lower this year. With enough effort, it is possible to pay half as much as you used to.
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