Friday, October 15, 2010

10 Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill and Conserve Energy

Conserving energy is both good for the environment and for the pocketbook. With the recent heat wave that has struck many cities across the United States, electric bills have undoubtedly skyrocketed. These late-summer heat waves have lead to a spike in activity of local air conditioning units and with winter around the corner, cold-weather cities will start cranking the heaters.

To give an idea of how hot it has been, sunny southern California has been hit with record highs: downtown Los Angeles has hit a record high of 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Air conditioners that have not been turned on for years due to lovely ocean breezes have been dusted off in order to make their inhabitants comfortable.

But with these spikes in activity comes spikes in spending. When it is hot, your appliances work twice as hard to make you feel comfortable. Here are some tips to beat the heat while still saving money.

1. Turn off the Lights

It's simple: turn off the lights when you leave the room. Aside from knowing that it is not energy efficient to keep lights on when you're not even using them, lamps will heat up a room and make it that much harder to cool it down. Even though it does save you money when you turn off the lights (and a noticeable difference, too), it is just in the "Good Citizen Handbook" to conserve energy and turn something off when you're not using it.

2. Run Your Fan, not the AC

On your air conditioning thermostat you may realize that you have an option to run the fan through the vents while your air conditioning is off. This circulates the air and removes the stuffy, humid atmosphere while costing you a fraction of air conditioning.

3. Use Your Appliances Less

You probably wonder why your house's interior temperature increases a few degrees during dinner time. The oven and the stove are the most heat-producing appliances in the house. Try using the microwave to cook dinner or just the stove top briefly. Or try eating raw veggies or making a sandwich. Also, try hang-drying your clothes instead of putting them in the dryer. It is amazing how much electricity your dryer uses.

4. Use a Dimmer

For the lights in the rooms with the most traffic, consider installing a dimmer. Even turning down the lights half-way while the family is watching tv can save you a few dollars a month.

5. Replace Your Light Bulbs

Go around your home and replace your old light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. They produce less heat, last longer, and use 1/3 of the energy of regular light bulbs.

6. Seal Up Your House

Whether you live in a cold weather city or a hot weather city, seal up your house to avoid over working your heater or air conditioner. It's amazing how cool a house can stay on a hot day when none of the cool air leaks out. Make sure your windows stay closed in extreme weather conditions, that there are no cracks in the sealing around doors and windows, and that the traffic in and out of the house is minimal.

7. Avoid Energy Sucking Vampires

No, we're not talking about those vampires, Twilight fans. We're talking about your wall outlets. When you aren't using that phone charger or hair straightener, unplug it! Leaving an appliance plugged in actually sucks energy even while you're not using it.

8. Clean Out Your Fridge

Clean the outside and the inside. The dust that accumulates under your fridge and around the coils actually makes your fridge work twice as hard to keep it cool. Cleaning the dust off of these will boost the efficiency of your appliance. Also, clean out the unwanted food inside your fridge. The more food you have in your fridge the harder it is to keep it cool. Clean out the unwanted leftovers that you probably won't eat anyways. Finally, tell your roommates or kids to choose what they want from the fridge before they go in to get it. Sitting in front of the fridge with the door open sucks so much energy and lets out all of the cold air.

9. Replace Your Thermostat

If you still have an old thermostat, upgrade to a digital thermostat. You can control the exact interior temperature of your house and schedule it so that it does not turn on while you are at work or while no one is home.

10. Embrace the Natural Light

Instead of turning on all of the lights in the middle of the day, open the blinds and embrace the natural light! Not only does this save you energy, but also makes you look and feel better. It has been proven that if you expose yourself to a little bit of sunlight you will feel rejuvenated and look fresher.


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