Saturday Finances: Tips for Lowering Your Electric Bill

10 free & painless ways to lower your electricity usage

Free Tips to Reduce Your Electric Usage
From PGE My Energy_Ways to Save

Our usage from April & May 2015

1.  Close your shades in the summer.

  • Sunlight passing through windows heats your home & makes your a/c work harder.  Windows that face south or west let in the most heat during the day.  Follow the sun & shade those areas.  
  • Light-colored shades, drapes or blinds are the most effective at reflecting sunlight.  Yadda-yadda, this isn't free if you have to go buy new shades.  When it's time to purchase new window coverings, go for the lighter tones. 

COST PAYBACK:  Immediate

2.  Set your refrigerator's temperature to 38°F.

  • A refrigerator runs all the time, so it makes sense to focus on the cost of operation.  According to the Department of Energy, refrigerators should be set between 35°F & 38°F.  The freezer should be set between 0°F and 5°F.  
  • Older models have dials, so adjust toward the middle, especially for refrigerators that may not get a lot of use (i.e. garage refrigerators &/or vacation home models).

COST PAYBACK:  Immediate

3.  Reduce time on your desktop computer.

  • Laptops need less electricity to run & spend more time in low power modes than desktops, making them 90 percent more energy efficient.  
  • Laptops readily revert to sleep mode in order to conserve battery life, which accounts for much of their energy savings.  Because laptops are also built for portability, they spend less time being plugged in.  
  • Once your laptop is charged, unplug it!  It's actually better for the battery to keep it unplugged once it is charged.  Ideally, it's better to keep your laptop battery charged to 80%, then let it drain to 40%.  This will prolong the life of the battery up to four times.  According to Battery University, a battery charged to 100% will have only 300-500 discharge cycles, while a battery charged to 70% will get 1,200-2,000 discharge cycles.  What's a discharge cycle?  It has to do with the voltage charge of the battery and how long it is stored before it is discharged.  The higher the charge, the higher the voltage level.  The more voltage a battery has to store, the more stress it puts on the battery.  
  • Reduce the build up of heat in your laptop by keeping it out of your lap.  Laptops should be renamed "tabletops" because that would actually help reduce excess heat which shortens the life of the battery.  

COST PAYBACK:  Immediate

Source citation:  WIRED_Keeping Your Laptop Plugged In All the Time Will Kill Its Battery Faster by Roberto Baldwin_GEAR_28 September 2013

4.  Reduce the brightness on your television

  • We all love the beautiful display we get with wide-screen TVs, but adjusting the display settings can reduce its power consumption by 5-20% without compromising the picture quality.  
  • Access the display menu with the remote.  Tweak the brightness & contrast down just a notch until you are satisfied with the display.   

COST PAYBACK:  Immediate

We have reduced our bill by $224.63 compared to
the same billing period a year ago

5.  Reduce television usage by half

  •  Keep the TV off when no one is watching.  
  • Substitute other activities like eating outside instead of on TV trays.  Read for an hour before bedtime, then turn on the TV.  
  • Watch programs on your laptop instead of the TV.
  • Schedule times to watch TV together.  We love Netflix nights!           
COST PAYBACK:  Immediate

6.  Adjust outdoor lighting as the daylight hours change

  • This is a simple technique.  It just takes a little monitoring.  Adjust landscape lighting in accordance with the changing daylight hours.  As the days get longer, change the clock on your landscape lighting to come on when it gets dark.  

COST PAYBACK:  Immediate

7.  Kill the Vampires!
  • This is fun!  Electronics that draw electricity while they are turned off are called, "vampires."  Go on a vampire hunt around the house.  Look for anything with a tiny LED light or a remote.  Go room-by-room...  
  • Computers
  • Entertainment systems
  • Video game systems
  • Printers, scanners & fax machines
  • DVD players
  • Plug-in scent diffusers
  • Adding machines
  • Auto-timers
  • Anything in a guest room (i.e. TV, lamp, clock radio, etc.)
  • Battery chargers (i.e. Kindles, cameras, etc.).  Once the device is charged, unplug it.
  • Electric pencil sharpeners
  • Garage tools

COST PAYBACK:  Immediate

8.  Task Lighting
  • Bring better light to the task area instead of overhead lighting.  
  • Directed light reduces eye strain.
  • Use under-counter lighting in the kitchen
  • Use countertop lighting in the bathroom (a small lamp away from the sink; not for kids' bathrooms).  
  • Try timed battery-operated candles for room lighting!  I use these in the living room for accent lighting at night instead of lamps.  These are also quite lovely to use for dining instead of room lamps.  

COST PAYBACK:  Immediate

9.  Don't Over-Dry Clothes (for gas & electric)
  • Dryers use more energy than any other household appliance.
  • If you can't hang-dry, then use your dryer more efficiently.  Dry longer on a lower setting.  This uses less energy than drying for a shorter time on a high setting, and it will help your clothes last longer.  
  • Dry towels & heavy linens separately from lighter-weight loads.  
  • Use a fluff (no-heat) cycle with light-weight or synthetic items (e.g. nylon, polyester, bamboo, etc.)

COST PAYBACK:  Immediate 

10.  Shave A Minute Off Your Shower Time

  • Another fun one!  Time your normal shower, then shoot for a minute less.  
  • The average American spends about 8 minutes in the shower once a day.  Reducing shower time by just one minute can result in a 13% decrease in shower water use, which reduces the energy that is needed to heat the water.  This small change adds up to about $50 per year in savings.    
  • While you're at it, think about taking a slightly less hot shower.  I found that by notching the heat down just a tad, I was just as happy with cooler (not cool, just cool-er) water, especially during the summer.  

COST PAYBACK:  Immediate

Have a money-smart week!

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