I am on a mission. The goal? To get our power bill under $100. Our average bill now is over $200! That is a ridiculous amount of money, and I’m tired of paying it! But how can we possibly get the bill down so far?
Well, there are many ways to reduce our electricity usage and I’ve researched many of them in an effort to save on our electric bill. Here are some options that you can pursue if you’re looking for ways to save on electricity.
Turn Out the Lights
Here’s thehe first thing I am working on to bring down our bill.
We’ve always been good about turning a light off when leaving a room. Even the kids are in the habit of flipping that switch back down. But it never occurred to me, until recently, that perhaps we don’t need to have so many light bulbs on per room.
Have you ever gone through your house and counted exactly how many light bulbs you have? You might be surprised.
As I went through our home the other day, I counted 60 light bulbs! Do we really need nine bulbs in one bathroom? Or nine in the kitchen? So, I set to work unscrewing all but 15; one bulb for each room- three for the kitchen.
Let’s do some math. Your power bill is based on how many kilowatts per hour you use in a month (KWH). What you are charged per hour depends on where you live. You can figure this out by looking at your power bill and dividing your payment due by the total KWH used. Mine comes to 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
The average light bulb is 60 watts, right? If you left that light on for one hour, you would have used 60 watt hours, or .06 kilowatt hours. So, according to what I get charged per KWH, I would have to pay .006 cents for that one hour. Doesn’t sound like much does it?
But multiply that by the 60 bulbs I have in my home and by about 5 hours of usage per day (just guessing on that one), and my cost would be around $2 per day. Multiply that by the days in the month… you see where I’m going with this. We are paying somewhere around $50-$60 per month for our lights.
If I’m going to try to reduce my monthly power bill, turning out the lights is a great place to start!
So, I went through the house unscrewing bulbs in every room. All of the bedrooms have an overhead fan/light, as well as a lamp on a dresser. I unscrewed all of the overhead lights, and left the one bulb in the lamp as the main light source. I also replaced the lamp bulbs with the new 13 watt compact fluorescent bulbs.
I did the same in every other room in the house- leaving only one bulb on, and replacing the 60 watt bulb with a compact fluorescent one, except for the kitchen- I left three lights on in there, one was the bulb over the stove.
I knew that if I didn’t totally unscrew the bulbs, that out of habit we would walk into the room and flip the light on. And it would be hard to stop doing that. Sure enough, later that evening when the kids went to their rooms there was mass confusion! “Mommy!! My light doesn’t work!“
I showed them both how to turn their lamps on, and explained that we don’t really need to have four lights come on when we enter the room, and that we’d be doing our best to save money on the power bill.
Even I have found myself walking into a room and flipping the light switch on. And when nothing happens I remember to use the lamp. We’ve been doing this for five days now, and you know, it’s amazing how little light you really need! One bulb in the bathroom is plenty. And a single lamp as the main source of light in a room is surprisingly sufficient.
We are so spoiled as Americans. Nine light bulbs in a bathroom… seriously? Is it truly necessary? And it’s so funny to me that I never questioned that! I simply filled the fixtures with bulbs, and dutifully replaced the burnt out ones.
Well, now I am seeing things in a whole new light! (Ha ha) I’m anxious to see how our power bill is affected over the next few months.
(As a side note, please read this warning about using compact fluorescentlight bulbs. They do contain mercury, so be very careful not to break one!!)
So what do you think? How many bulbs do you have in your home? Do you think you could live with half that amount of light? It’s not as hard as you might think.
Turn Things Off When You Aren’t Home
Not home? Then why are your fans, air conditioning units, and other energy-sucking appliances still running?
Take the time to shut things down when you leave. Even if you have pets, they should still be comfortable without the air constantly circulating.
Closing the drapes or blinds is a great way to keep things warm or cool enough without having to run these kinds of devices, too.
Use Power Strips
Another way to reduce the amount of energy that energy-sucking appliances are using up is to use a power strip that is advertised as being energy-efficient (rather than just your regular run of the mill one).
Plug everything from your computer to your television, your printer, and your cell phone charger into one of these devices.
This can dramatically reduce the amount of energy you are using and I can guarantee that you won’t notice the difference!
Stop Relying on the Ventilation Fan
Of course, there are times in which you need to use the ventilation fan in your bathroom, kitchen, or other living space. You need to get rid of odors and condensation, after all.
However, there are some circumstances in which using the ventilation fan is not only unnecessary, but it can be damaging.
These fans blow away both hot and cold air, and can cause you to use more electricity as a result. Use the ventilation fans in your bathroom, kitchen, or other areas as little as possible.
Limit the Use of Devices
We could all do with a little less technology in our lives, am I right? Encourage your family to unplug and limit the use of devices.
For example, you might say that cell phones are not allowed in certain areas of the home, like your kids’ bedrooms.
This will reduce the amount of time that your children spend using their phones unsupervised and it will also help reduce electricity when it comes to devices like video game players and the like.
Check Your Air Vents
If you’re using air conditioning systems, make sure things like bookshelves, file cabinets, and other obstructions aren’t blocking the vents. The same goes for heating vents. This will ensure that airflow is being circulated effectively, and allow for more efficient heating and cooling.
Take a Look at the Fridge and Freezer Temperatures
What is your refrigerator temperature set at? If it’s any lower than 38 degrees F or any higher than 40 degrees F, you’re doing yourself (and your food) a disservice. The same goes for the freezer – this should be set at 0-5 degrees.
When you use either of these appliances, make sure you shut the door as quickly as possible so the cold air doesn’t escape.
Don’t Leave the Door Open
I know, this one can be tough if you have little kids at home! However, it’s important that you communicate to everyone in the family that the door needs to stay shut if you want to save on electricity.
Get the Fridge Out of the Sun
While you might not have a lot of control over where you place your fridge in your home, if you can, position it in a location where it will be out of the sunlight.
Invest in Alexa
Personal assistants like Alexa and Google Home can be hugely beneficial when it comes to the energy usage in your home.
They’ll allow you to turn devices on and off if you’re not there, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to turn the lights on and off when you leave. You can do it from the office, as long as you’ve installed things like smart bulbs, plugs, and thermostats.
Lower the Brightness
When you’re using devices like your cell phone or television, set the brightness to the lowest settings possible. This won’t just help you save on electricity, but it will also save your eyes from extra strain. Using energy-saving mode will also help you save the battery life so you don’t have to charge your devices as often.
Run Your Ceiling Fan
While you don’t want to run your fan if you don’t need it, pay attention to the direction in which the blades are spinning, especially during the summer. In the summer months, the ceiling fan should be spinning in reverse.
This will improve airflow by pulling the cool air upward and circulating it around your living space.
Throw on a Jacket (or Take it Off)
Rather than turning the thermostat up or down, consider layering up or down instead. This is one of the most effective ways to stay warm or cool without having to worry about the electricity bill.
Plus, there are health benefits to not always having the heat cranked up, too, so be sure to tap into those by tapping into your wardrobe instead.
If you have an electric stovetop, an easy way to save on electricity is to cover your pans and pots when you are boiling water or cooking food in them.
Heat won’t be released as easily so the pan will boil faster and use less energy as a result. Plus, who wants to sit around and watch a pot, waiting for it to boil?
A similar trick you can incorporate is to turn off oven burners a few minutes before your food is actually done. The heat will be stored in the cooking equipment and pans so that your food will still be able to cook, but you’ll also be able to save energy at the same time.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to always preheat your oven, either. Check the instructions or recipe for the food you are cooking – you’ll find that many of them require zero preheating.
Mind the Disposal
When running a garbage disposal, use cold water. There’s no need to use hot water and it will prevent you from spending the money it takes to heat up the water for the disposal.
Break Out the Duster
If there’s any dust buildup on your lamps or light bulbs, it can prevent light from shining through, reducing your overall illumination. Dust and clean the lamps and bulbs on a regular basis to prevent this from happening.
Cover the Windows
Planting some hedges or similar windbreaks around your home is a great way to naturally reduce the amount of energy your home needs to function. You can encourage a similar function by hanging heavy drapes on your windows.
This will help keep many of the sun’s direct rays out (as well as cold winter drafts) so it can reduce the amount of heating and air conditioning you need.
Clean the Fridge
Your refrigerator is one of those appliances that’s taking up electricity each day, all day. You can reduce your energy consumption by getting some of that clutter out there.
Microwave vs Oven
There’s a longstanding debate over which appliance is more energy-efficient – the microwave or the oven. In most cases, the microwave wins, at least if you are preparing small meals.
Not only do microwaves use less energy than ovens, but they also don’t heat up your house and take minimal energy to cool down.
Turn the Lights Off During the Holidays
Are you one of those people who loves to decorate during the Christmas season? If so, there’s a good chance that you don’t need all of your other lights cranked up full bore during this time.
You’re already sucking up a lot of electricity to power all those lights, so consider balancing things out by turning the rest of the lights down instead.
Hop in the Shower
While a long shower won’t do your electric bill (or your skin) any favors, a short one is superior to a bath – at least in terms of energy savings. Showers require less from the water heater, although to maximize the benefit, you’ll want to stick to shorter showers.
Shorten Your Shower
This is everyone’s least favorite tip! However, it’s a good one. Quit lingering in the hsower, since the average showerhead can use as much as five gallons of water per minute.
This not only wastes a lot of water but also, the energy that is needed to heat the water and keep it hot can be quite significant. Cap your shower time at ten minutes or less.
Use Cold Water
When it comes time to do laundry, consider using cold water instead of hot. As with all other kinds of household tasks, it takes energy to heat up the water you might be using for your laundry.
Washing your clothes in cold water, especially during the winter, will lower your electric bill quite substantially – and don’t worry, it will get them just as clean.
Use the Broiler or Grill
If you plan on cooking some meat, consider whether you can use the oven broiler or outdoor grill. Boiling is a cooking method that requires the least amount of energy so unless you have to, broil instead of bake. It’s just as healthy and much faster, too!
Lower the Daytime Heat
When you leave for work each morning, lower the heat or shut off the air conditioner. You won’t lose as much of that hard-earned hot or cold air as you think – it will still be plenty warm enough when you get home.
You can turn the heat back on while you’re cooking dinner and it will be plenty warm enough the rest of the night.
Clean Refrigerator Coils
When was the last time you cleaned anything behind or underneath your refrigerator? Chances are – never. It’s important to take the time to clean your refrigerator coils since over time, debris and dirt can build up on them and reduce their efficiency, causing them to work harder.
By giving them a good wipe down, you’ll save energy and prolong the life of your refrigerator, too.
Use a Solar Charger
Survivalists and preppers love solar chargers because they allow you to charge your devices without having to run up your electricity bill.
Consider investing in a solar charger or solar backpack and by placing it in the sun for just a few hours a day, you can charge your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or other device – all for free.
Thaw Foods First
There are lots of good reasons to htaw your food before you cook it – for starters, it’s going to taste a lot better! However, thawing your food before you cook it is essential in one other way – it will take less energy to cook it.
Install Dimmer Switches
This sounds like a task that would demand the expertise of an electrician, but installing dimmer switches is actually quite simple. You can do it in the evening!
Dimmer switches will allow you to adjust the amount of light you get in a given space so that you can use more light for focused activities like writing or reading and less if you are trying to achieve a more calming, soothing atmosphere.
Check for Leaks
Take a good, hard look at your doors and windows to make sure there aren’t any leaks, broken seals, or gaps where air can get through. This is also a great way to keep pests out of the home!
You can take care of any leaks by using caulking, weatherstripping, or new seals. This will prevent you from spending unnecessary money on your energy bill.
Install Triple Track Glass
Examine the windows in your home. If they don’t already have this feature, consider installing triple-track glass. This combines two panels and a screen so that air can flow through both the bottom and top halves. You can also install screen storm windows.
Another option to consider is frosted windows. These windows will block out the sunlight so that your home won’t stay as hot in the summer or as cold in the winter.
Check the Insulation
Similar to the last point, it’s also important that you take a look at your insulation. From your pipes to your walls, insulation can dramatically reduce the need for heating and will help you save on your electric bill.
It will also stop your water heater from working quite as hard and prevent your pipes from freezing in the winter – double bonus there!
Install Low Flow Fixtures
Do you really need that big splash of water? Consider installing low flow water fixtures, which can offer an electricity savings of up to 60%.
Make Sure Appliances are in Good Working Order
…and are working properly. Appliances that aren’t in good working order will be an energy drain. Make sure they’re all repaired, cleaned, and working well, and if it’s time to make the swap, purchase those that are Energy Star models rated for their efficiency.
For things that really don’t need to be powered all day long – like Christmas lights – consider using a timer. This will help you save both time and money so that you can have your lights turn off and on at the same time.
As an added bonus, you’ll be able to enjoy your lights more as they can already be turned on the moment you arrive home from work.
Close the Flue
Consider closing your chimney flue when not in use. This can help you save energy since it won’t be letting in a draft – or letting out the heat.
Install Light Colored Roofing
Light colored roofing is much more energy efficient than dark colored options. They’ll reflect sunlight so that your home doesn’t get quite as hot.
Close Off the Attic
Are you actually using the attic? If not, consider closing it up. You can buy an attic tent if you have pull-down stairs or you can install foam insulation pads so you aren’t heating an area of your house you rarely use.
Lower the Water Heater Temperature
Check the temperature on your water heater. By lowering it just a few degrees, you can save a ton of money on your electric bill. Similarly, shutting off the water heater while you’re gone can also help you save money.
Examine Your Energy Bill
Take a good, hard look at your electric bill. What price are you paying each month? Typically, providers will charge fixed, indexed, or variable rates, but sometimes they offer all free.
Keep in mind that although indexed or variable rates often seem less expensive, they fluctuate with the market and public use index and can affect your bill. Compare all possible rates before settling – this can really help you save on electricity!
How much do you know about electricity? Electricity is the energy that powers our homes, office buildings and other structures. Electricity is a major part of modern life. You may not think about it on a daily basis but it’s there powering your television, your computer and even the lights in your home or office building.
There are many ways to save on electricity and maintain a sustainable lifestyle. It is important to find what works for you, this can be done by using the tips we’ve given you in this article.
updated 04/22/2021 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.
16 thoughts on “Turn Out The Lights! 40 Ways to Save on Electricity”
How has this been going? Any results? I so enjoy reading your blog.
Rachel, Yes, we have seen a difference in our power bill. Our next main “fix” is the leaking hot water heater!
Kristen- Thanks for the link. I knew they had mercury in them, but maybe it isn’t worth it after all!! You’ve got me thinking I better replace these little bulbs and get them outta here!
What a great post! I sat here & counted 49 lightbulbs in our house! We do a great job about turning them off but I never thought about how many there were. I am going to change that today!!!
Oh, I forgot to add that I would not feel guilty about running a fan in a child’s room, I have read that studies show a decrease in SIDS cases with children in well ventilated rooms, and many suggest putting a small fan in a child under 2’s room, just like taking the bumpers out of a crib… sigh, there are so many things we are supposed to do. I actually went out and got mesh bumpers for airflow, because I read about many parents having their child break an arm or something in a bumperless crib, wrenching it in the bars… we just do the best we can I guess lol, its not in our hands after all.
There are so many little things that can be done, if I could I would only use LED lightbulbs, they cost more, but last very very long and contain no mercury (even kids toys use LEDs) and are mega ultra efficient compared to a flouresent bulb. Things like keeping a freezer full (even if its just with water jugs to fill the gap), cooling items before sticking them in the fridge and even keeping a list of items in the fridge and freezer on the door of it, so you don’t go “looking” for a snack or drink mindlessly. I bet even switching to drinking tap water over juice from the fridge could have an effect on electricity, the less often you open them, the less they need to run.
Don’t forget natural light too, remember that some places changed daylight savings time to make it lighter earlier so that you didn’t need to use as many lights in the morning to get ready, open the blinds 🙂 Just make sure it isn’t hot or air conditioning costs may cloud this benifit.
Maintenance is a big one, just like keeping air pressure in tires improves gas milage so too does emptying your lint trap in your drier, and wash it once a month, build up on lint traps causes lint to repel from it and not work properly, a little soap and air drying can help your dryer work to its best.
I have already posted too much, but I could go on and on lol, here is one of many good sites to go to about electricity saving, I like that it explains and costs out every option
(ps, I have been thinking about saving up and buying a laptop, because they are way more efficient than desk computers and don’t have ‘phantom load’. also remember to unplug your chargers for phones and devices, they are major phantom loaders… okay, I will be quiet now…)
What you have said makes so much sense. I have been doing battle with our utility bills since December. At the end of Dec. we got the killer $500 propane bill. I almost croaked, then remembered – that’s okay – I pay a little extra each month so when the cold months roll around, it won’t kill me. Then at the end of January I got another $500 propane bill. OUCH. The extra money was gone and now I am behind! I have almost paid that off and just got Februaray’s bill! After the second “killer” bill I decided that we do NOT need to run the heater all day every day. We have bundled up, put extra blankets on the bed, covered (or double covered) some of the single pane windows in the house to prevent heat loss). Because the heater was going all the time, not only were we burning propane but the power bill was crazy high too! I have gotten it down but we still have a long way to go – I want the propane to be no more than $200 in the cold months and the PG&E to be no higher than $100 – we will see, we will see!
Heather R- Wow. I hope you are able to get that bill down!! Big OUCH!
Honestly, when we switched to CFL’s from regular bulbs, we only saw about a $3-$5/mo difference, if even that much. But power up here is a lot cheaper because we have dams and other things going on, and I’m always turning off lights when leaving rooms, or like right now, cracking open a curtain for some low light rather than turning on a lamp, drilling into the kids to turn lights off when they’re done in their room or bathroom (now, if I could only get hubby to listen to me, too…). Right now I have 10 light bulbs on – a chandelier in the living room (opening the curtains lets in cold air, it’s chilly here today!), and chandelier in the dining room where I currently am.
What made the biggest difference in our power bill though? When older appliances die, we get more efficient ones (water heater, dishwasher, oven, fridge), we switched to using our wood stoves solely for heat (except those 3 days this winter when we were out of town and set the furnace to 57*F so things wouldn’t freeze), etc. Getting away from the natural gas furnace and electric baseboard cut our bill from $230/mo to about $85-$100/mo for a family of 4, then 5, now 6 plus perpetual guests. That’s *with* up to two kids in cloth diapers with me washing and drying all. the. time. plus with the wood heat we can keep the whole house a balmy 74*-84* for less than it’d cost to pay the power company to keep it at 65-70*. Even the realtors we’ve talked to are impressed with our power bill, especially for our medium sized house.
We do have fans for white noise at night though – otherwise the idiots speeding down our residential road will wake up the kids (Harleys, crotch rockets, and pimped out Eclipses with the music blaring, fun, fun), and I wouldn’t be able to do my end-of-day housework at night when they’re in bed. Our house may be decent sized, but it’s not *that* big, and I can’t fill the dishwasher with dishes when 1-2 kids are literally trying to crawl into the dishwasher. *sigh*
Lanna- Girl, I totally feel for you! I DO NOT miss the noisy city streets!! Right after Titus was born my husband almost got in a fist fight in the front yard with the man from right across the street because he thought it was such fun, day after day, to sit in his driveway and rev up his Harley… for no apparent reason at all!! Our sleepy newborn could not get a good nap in, and neither could I!! Boy, am I glad to be away from that! Now, I have to admit, there are some days when we’ve left the Rooster out over night, when I do run the fan in Ty’s room so that the crowing at the crack of dawn doesn’t disturb him. But that’s not very often. I’d take crowing over motorcycles any day!
As you’re working on saving electricity, be sure to unplug anything not being used. “Vampire”appliances can keep sucking energy even if they aren’t on. You’re doing a great job!
Good luck! Sounds like just by taking some of the lights out you will be reducing your bill quite a bit! We actually don’t have that many lights in our house…about 12 including lamps, outside lights, and stove light. But then, our mobile home is only about 750 sq feet:) But it does get dark in here. I’m trying to cut down our light usage as much as possible, it helps that it has been sunny out so I don’t have to keep the lights on just to make it feel like daytime in our house 🙂
I changed all the old light bulbs with the newer energy efficient light bulbs. Not to save the planet or anything, just to save my wallet. I was really surprised at how much it helped. Almost immediately we noticed a $15 a month savings. Then we put all “phantom load” items on a power strip with a switch and hit the switch to shut those off when not in use. That brought our savings up to $20+ a month. If I could convince my wife to turn off the fan at night (for white noise)I think we could increase the savings. I have two bathrooms and in both of them the light is connected to the fan. If you turn on the light, you also get the fan. I would like to change that and be able to turn on the fan only when it is called for. Now that the sun is out more, I believe we will save even more by opening up the curtains to let more light in.
Joel- it’s funny that you mentioned that your wife runs a fan for “white noise” at night. My husband does the same thing!! It drives me nuts! But I’ve been very proud of him. Since we made the light bulb switch, he also, all on his own, decided to turn the fan off at night. What do you know… he can still get to sleep!! I’m hoping he continues the habit of sleeping w/out the white noise. He started running a fan in the kids rooms, but I quickly stopped that. I don’t want them to grow up dependent on a fan running to go to sleep too! 🙂
We actually don’t have that many light bulbs persay in the house BUT we do have the overhead florescent lights, you know like the ones in an office building? We live in an apartment and these are the types of lights our landlord so chooses to use. Because of that we don’t have lamps as those light are quite sufficient. Fortunately, we don’t use them that often except when we eat at dinner and then at night. But even then they are so bright that we only need to use one set (there are 4 sets in our great room). Now if I could get the kids to turn their lights off! LOL I’m forever walking back to their room to shut their light off! Good luck on your mission- over the past 6 months I’ve dropped our bill by $100 so it is possible!
we’ve done the same, but mostly the only bulb in each room of ours is in the overhead light… so much easier to just hit the switch, even if its a reduced wattage.
i really wanna get one of the “kill-a-watt” things to figure out how much each random thing is using being plugged in.
particularly our well. its only hooked up to outside… but as expensive as electricity is, and cheap as water is… and as much as it runs to maintain water level when we’ve been using it and for the next few weeks afterwards… im thinking moneywise it might not be the best option