Why Is My Electric Bill So High? – Part 7

Would you pass by a penny laying on the ground? What about 100 pennies? Ok, how about 1,000 pennies? One single penny may not seem like it is worth the effort to bend over and pick it up, but $10 (1,000 pennies) suddenly becomes worth it. Am I right? Well, you may be tossing out 1,000’s of pennies a month through wasteful electric usage. And that is exactly what we’ve been focusing the last several blog posts on what may be the cause of a high electric utility bill, and what to do about it. 

See part 5 of this series for a summary of the first four posts. We’re rounding out the discussion today by concluding the list we started in the last post of the top 10 power hogging items in your home. Let’s wrap it up starting with...

  1. Clothes Washer/Dryer – This set of appliances is likely the largest in your home, and it is also the biggest energy consumer. Just like your dishwasher, make sure you run full loads to conserve on electric energy usage. If your clothes dryer is an electric dryer then you’re looking at the absolute biggest energy hog in your home. Besides making sure to run only full loads, there really isn’t a way to reduce the energy usage during a dry cycle. However, have you considered using a clothes line? Sure, it may take extra effort to dry your clothes that way, but remember your goal: lower your electric bill!
  2. Lighting – In the average American home, lighting makes up about 12% of the electric utility bill. That means taking a bite out of your lighting costs will take a bite out of your bill. Developing the habit of turning of lights when not needed is an obvious but often neglected solution. However, maybe you want your house lit up at night, or maybe everyone in your family is in different parts of the house and need the lights on. There’s more you can do. Replace your standard incandescent light bulbs with an Energy Star qualified bulb. This could be a Compact Fluorescent bulb, or even better: an LED bulb. Of course, they cost more up front, but they use from 40% to 25% of the electricity for the same amount of illumination. So, prioritize your lights. For now, don’t worry about that 40w bulb in the basement storage room, or in the attic. Start by changing out your biggest and brightest bulbs in the most commonly used parts of the house. You’ll notice a difference in your next bill.
  3. Water Heater – If you have an electric water heater, you’re looking at another of your biggest energy hogs. Try setting the water heater thermostat no higher than 120 degrees. That’s plenty hot for showering and washing dishes. Any higher than that and more energy is lost due to heat that escapes the tank and has to be replaced.
  4. Central Heating and Cooling – Without a doubt, this is the biggest chunk of your overall energy consumption. How much temperature control affects your electric bill depends on the type of system you have. However regardless of that, keeping the heated and conditioned air inside your house and the frigid or hot humid air outside will make a big difference. Please see our 10-part series “How Can I Make My Home More Energy Efficient?
  5. Electric Car – Did you recently switch to an electric car? Smart move! But it means drastically reducing your gasoline bill by putting more demand on your home electric bill. What do you do now? The best way to really save on this bill is to go solar.
  6. Swimming Pool - Do you have a swimming pool, or hot tub? Then you are well aware of the effect it has on your electric bill. A first step would be to consider covering the pool or hot tub to cut down heating costs, not to mention cleaning costs. Aside from that, you should upgrade any outdated heating equipment that you have with the most efficient pool heater possible.

There’s no reason that your home has to be as wasteful as the ‘average American home’. Buckle down and lower your electric utility bill by working your way through this list. With some effort and cooperation in the family, you could get your usage down to 200 kWh per person per month or even lower.

Do you have other questions that you’re eager to get a response on? You’re at the right place! Fill out the form on our Ask an Expert page, and the resident expert at GAMA Air will get back to you quickly with an answer.

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