No matter where you live, chances are you’ve been battling the heat this summer! In the past few months, heatwaves have been sweeping across vast sections of North America, Asia, and Europe, setting record high temperatures along the way.1 To try and escape these scorching conditions, you may be tempted to crank the air conditioning to more extreme settings for longer periods of time. And unfortunately, with your home working overtime to keep you cool, your wallet may be feeling the heat.
Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show an increase in the average electricity bill from $0.147 kWh to $0.168 kWh between January of 2022 and 2023.2 Now, considering the average electric bill in the U.S. in 2022 for a residential home was around $1,600 annually, this small change in price per unit may have large ramifications.3 However, if you are worried about the impact of increased heat on your energy bill, don’t sweat it just yet!
There are plenty of ways you can take action to reduce your household’s energy consumption without spending a dime! And, if you want to go a step further, you can invest in smart devices and energy efficient appliances that can help you reduce spending down the line. Financial security is important at every stage of life, and with the right planning, you can set up your home and habits to help you maintain savings wherever possible! Let’s look at some of the ways you can cut back on energy usage and alleviate your monthly bill.
Actions You Can Take
There are plenty of ways to reduce energy consumption in a home by making simple changes to your home’s existing features! You may change the way you manage or use your appliances, as well as take measures to ensure the solutions currently existing in your home are running as efficiently as possible. Here are four steps you can take to minimize your home’s energy usage:
- Schedule a home energy audit. Many electric companies offer this service free of charge! They will send a professional to your home to inspect your home’s insulation, the sealing along windows and exterior walls, ductwork, and more.3 You may ask for recommendations on how to make improvements or find ways to address existing issues. Reach out to a few local power companies to select one that offers the best services for your needs.
- Adjust the temperature on your appliances. Many of the preset settings on appliances are locked on temperatures that are more extreme than necessary. By setting your fridge to 37 degrees and your freezer to 0 degrees, you can ensure your food will remain fresh without your appliances overworking to maintain unnecessarily low temperatures.3 Similarly, you can adjust the default temperature on your water heater from 140 degrees to 120 degrees without compromising the quality of its production. In fact, this simple change alone could reduce your home’s annual energy costs by 4%-22%.3
Another small change you can make is setting your washer and dryer to the cold wash and dry settings. With 90% of the energy in a single cycle used to heat the water, it is easy to see how pushing the temperature to cold could cut back on energy usage. And thankfully, this setting works to clean your clothes just as efficiently in nearly every type of load.4
- Air dry whenever possible. What is better than reducing energy usage? Eliminating the use of energy altogether! By utilizing air-drying methods for dishes and clothes, you may save on the number of energy-guzzling loads needed in total. You can turn off the “heat-dry” setting on your dishwasher and instead crack open the door to let the dishes dry for a few hours or overnight. And for clothes, you can utilize clotheslines or even just hooks around your house to skip the dryer in general.
- Ask about off-peak energy usage times. Because electricity usage fluctuates dramatically depending on the time of day or even season of the year, some utility companies may offer time-of-use plans. If you are enrolled in this plan, running the majority of your energy-intensive chores during off-peak hours could reduce your bill.5 Check with your provider to see if your home is eligible for these promotions.
Devices & Appliances to Help You Save
Although it may seem counterintuitive to purchase items to help cut costs, the initial investment into energy-saving solutions will pay off in the long run with automatic reduced energy usage implemented into your home’s systems. The U.S. Department of Energy found that installing energy efficient measures could help save the typical household roughly 25% on their utility bill annually. 3 This means that the upfront cost of making the switch will not only be offset over the course of the product’s lifespan, but it may also provide returns. Now that’s a win-win! Here are four products intended to increase energy efficiency in your home:
- Switch to LED lighting. The average home could save roughly $225 annually on their energy bill by swapping out incandescent lightbulbs in exchange for LEDs.3 Not only will this move bring your home up to code on new efficiency rules put forward by the Energy Department, but it also decreases the frequency of bulb changes, therefore leading to savings in the long run.3
- Use smart power strips. Even when you think all of your appliances are idle and your devices are powered off, they may still be drawing small amounts of energy. This phantom energy may cost the average family $165 annually on their electric bill.7 Fortunately, plugging your devices and light sources into a smart power strip can help eliminate this. When the devices aren’t in use, the current running through the plug is cut off, therefore putting a stop to the usage of energy when they are idle.3
- Install a programmable thermostat. Implementing a smart thermostat in your home is one of the easiest ways to substantially cut down on your energy bill. According to findings from the Department of Energy, adjusting your thermostat by 7-10 degrees for 8 hours a day may decrease your bill by up to 10%.5 Essentially this means reducing the extremes the temperature is set to during summer and winter months. And, with a smart thermostat, this change is easier than ever. You may program the device to make this adjustment when you are away from home during the day or when you are asleep at night.
- Invest in energy efficient appliances. Appliances with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star label use less energy each time they run, therefore decreasing your bill immediately after installation. For example, an Energy Star dishwasher will use 12% less energy and 30% less water than the average standard model. 3 If you’re considering opting for energy efficient appliances, the best place to start is with your most used appliances to maximize your savings.
Putting it All Together
Coupling these energy saving measures with simple habits such as shutting doors and windows, turning off lights that are not in use, and only running dishwashers and washers/dryers when they are full will have a noticeable impact on your energy bill. By implementing these actions into your routine and setting your house up to function efficiently with the help of regulating settings and devices, you can take the heat off of your bill!
Finding savings on bills is one piece of creating a financially secure future. Here at Longbridge Financial, we are committed to helping homeowners achieve this goal by responsibly accessing their home equity. By tapping into the power of your home, you may be better prepared to deal with any financial challenges you may experience as you age. To learn more about using the power of your home to reshape your financial future, contact our team today!