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For a lot of renters and homeowners, particularly those living in single-family homes, the monthly energy bill is one of the largest housing-related expenses. And as electricity prices increase, saving money on energy seems to be almost impossible.
It’s not just about the lights, but also the furnace, air conditioning, heater, and so many other things.
Cost-cutting in this regard would provide massive relief to many, and the good news is that there are many ways to reduce your monthly energy bill. When it comes to cutting down your monthly energy bill, there are basically two schools of thought that include:
Energy conservation, as the name suggests, is the art of avoiding unnecessary energy usage by unplugging gadgets and electronics and switching off the lights when they are not in use.
Energy efficiency, on the other hand, involves improving and upgrading your living space in a way that upholds comfort and functionality. In other words, it means making smart choices. For instance, instead of switching off the heater and resorting to the use of blankets during the winter season, you get a ‘smart’ thermostat that automatically regulates the temperature inside your home.
It is important to note here that becoming energy-efficient comes with an upfront investment, but in the long run, these improvements can help reduce your monthly bills. For renters, you may be able to negotiate with your landlord to make the improvements for you. Or, maybe your landlord can deduct the cost of any improvements from your monthly rent.
You should also check with your local utility company, since they often offer subsidies for energy-efficient improvements, particularly in older multi-tenant properties.
Take a look at the number of ways that can help you reduce your monthly energy bill, conserve energy, and become energy-efficient.
Cut out excessive energy
Many people might not know this, but a major percentage of your energy usage comes from electronics and gadgets that are turned off. This is referred to as ‘phantom loads,’ and its energy consumption is believed to be as high as 75%!
There are many appliances that use power when they are off, such as televisions, internet routers, and many others. This is mainly because they are continually working despite being off, leading to a higher energy bill.
One way to combat this issue is to use power strips that help you cut your electric bill by switching off appliances when they aren’t in use.
Install dimmer switches
Dimmer switches have become popular in many homes, and they are a super simple and effective energy-saving option.
Dimmer switches are devices that are connected to the light fixtures and fans in your home that help you lower the brightness of lights and speed of the fan, respectively.
A unique feature of dimmers is that they start over every 120 seconds, which basically helps modulate the amount of energy that’s required, in turn helping you to save money and energy.
Check your home for seals and leaks
One common contributor to high energy bills is unsealed spaces, such as cracks in windows, doors, and appliances. An easy way to regulate the temperature in your home is to invest in energy-efficient curtains.
What makes energy-efficient curtains so special? They possess an extra lining, typically made of a heavier, spongy material that prevents heat from escaping in the winter and blocks out sunlight during hot summers.
If you can’t afford new drapes this winter, you may even consider making your own energy-efficient curtains using the proper fabric, insulation, and a vapor barrier. For this to be successful, it is essential to use the right materials.
Closely woven cotton fabric is best for trapping heat and batting tends to be the best insulation for energy-efficient curtains. If you have an old quilt or comforter that fits your desired curtain size, you may even repurpose that for your drapes. Your vapor barrier can be anything from a clear plastic sheet to a painters drop cloth.
Once you have your three components you can combine them either by gluing or sewing them together, but be sure to do your research before taking on this project to make sure you save the most energy.
Invest in LED light bulbs
Did you know that LED light bulbs reduce energy consumption by almost 90% compared with incandescent bulbs?
The most effective way to go about this is to replace the most widely or frequently used bulbs in your home with LED light bulbs.
Once you do that, you will eventually notice a decrease in your monthly energy bill. Renters should pay attention to the payback period for any LED light bulbs. If you are paying for the switch, you may not stay in the rental long enough to pay back your upfront investment. Also, look for subsidies and rebates that can offset the cost of switching bulbs.
Install a ‘smart’ or programmable thermostat
As the name implies, this is a kind of thermostat that automatically adjusts the temperature in your home by turning off the heating and cooling systems when you are asleep or away, for instance.
So, in a way, a smart thermostat helps eliminate energy waste without having to upgrade HVAC systems.
With the help of a smart, programmable thermostat, you can save around $130 on average each year, according to some estimates, but that also depends on your monthly energy usage and the number of cooling and heating systems in your home.
Use energy-efficient appliances
Thanks to advancements in technology, there are many new appliances in the market that are increasingly energy efficient.
As a homeowner, look into these. If you’re a renter and have a well-established relationship with your landlord, or they come to you for feedback on potential appliance replacements, you should look for devices with the Energy Star label. That label indicates that the appliance you are looking at consumes less energy compared to the regular standard models.
The difference in energy consumption and savings greatly depends on the specific appliances that you are using. For instance, Energy Star refrigerators consume 9% less energy, whereas the clothes washers consume 25% less energy than the conventional models.
If you are interested in living in a more energy-efficient home consider asking the landlord or property manager if they have energy-efficient appliances, or if they are interested in investing in them during your time as a tenant.
Cut down water heating expenses
When it comes to total energy consumption, water heating is a common contributor. While you may assume it’s necessary to purchase an energy-efficient water heater to save on expenses, a few cheap fixes help you save by using less hot water.
Water-saving shower heads come in a variety of styles that can significantly upgrade your morning routine. By reducing the gallons per minute flowing from the shower, they also reduce the amount of water that needs to be heated for your household. They also make it easier to live with roommates by ensuring there is enough hot water for everyone.
You may also consider turning down the thermostat on the water heater. However, the water heater temperature is regulated in some areas, so make sure the water heater is exclusively used by you and your family before making any changes. You can also look into insulating the water heater in your home as well as the hot/cold water pipes.
Energy conservation is extremely vital, not only to help you save money and reduce your monthly energy bill, but also to protect the environment. There are so many other energy-saving measures that you can take to cut down your monthly bill, but the ones mentioned above are enough to get you started.
Being energy-efficient is all about taking small steps to pave the way towards a more energy-conscious lifestyle in ways that benefit not only you but also the environment that you live in.
Read more information and tips in our Housing section