Electricity prices are constantly rising, and finding ways to lower your electric bill can save you an impressive amount of money in the long run. In this article, we’ll talk about a few ways you can cut your electricity bill and see instant monthly savings through behavior changes, energy-efficient products, and larger home upgrades.
Key takeaways: how to lower your bill
- You can save on your electric bills by subscribing to community solar, choosing energy-efficient appliances, upgrading your home, and even changing your daily habits.
- To get started saving, invest in an energy audit to understand your current electricity costs.
- Going solar can lead to the biggest electric bill savings in the long run – visit the EnergySage Marketplace to get started
Lowering your electric bill: four main tips
If we had to categorize the best ways to lower your electric bill, they would be:
- Subscribe to community solar
- Purchase energy efficient appliances and products
- Upgrade your home
- Adjust your daily routines
The best way to hone in on which changes you should make is to perform an energy audit. Whether you do it yourself or have a professional come in, taking stock of your energy situation will help you find the highest impact changes to make. Luckily, many utilities, nonprofits, and governmental organizations offer free or reduced-cost energy audits. Make sure to contact your utility company to see if they have an energy audit program – for example, National Grid offers a no-cost home energy assessment that you can even do virtually!
1. Subscribe to community solar
One of the best ways to cut your electricity bill is by joining a community solar project. A community solar project is a large, central solar power plant, whose electricity is shared by more than one property. While the size of a residential solar installation is measured in kilowatts, community solar projects are measured in megawatts, meaning that a single community solar project can power many homes. Community solar is also often referred to as roofless solar, solar gardens, or shared solar.
Since you don’t need to have a suitable rooftop for solar to participate in a community solar project, it’s a great option for renters and people who live in shared housing. By purchasing a share of or subscribing to a community solar project, everybody can benefit from solar while paying less for electricity.
How does community solar help you cut your electric bill? Community solar allows you to purchase bill credits generated at a local solar farm. Typically, you purchase these bill credits at a discount (most companies offer a 10% discount from what you currently pay for electricity). You’ll still receive an electricity bill from your utility company, but it will include any credits that you bought from your community solar share, therefore lowering your overall bill amount.
With community solar, your electricity bill savings vary from month to month – this is because your electricity usage typically varies by season, as does solar production. When the sun is shining during the summer, the solar farm will produce more electricity (therefore, more solar bill credits.) This often means higher payments to your community solar company and lower utility bill charges, while the opposite may happen during the winter months. Despite this monthly variance, you can expect to save 5 to 10 percent off of your annual electricity costs after joining a community solar program.
2. Purchase energy efficient appliances and products
Devices with the ENERGY STAR label are certified by the federal government to consume less energy than standard appliances. One of the most impactful ways to incorporate ENERGY STAR products into your home is to upgrade your HVAC(heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system. ENERGY STAR gas furnaces have separate specifications based on where in the U.S. you want one installed, and can save you 12 to 16 percent on your heating bill. Purchasing an ENERGY STAR central air conditioning unit can save around 8 percent when compared to conventional models. Lastly, upgrading your ventilation system via the network of ducts distributing your hot and cold air throughout your house can lower heating and cooling expenses up to 20 percent.
ENERGY STAR appliances usually cost 9 to 25 percent less to operate than conventional products. Washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, and dehumidifiers are just some examples of the types of ENERGY STAR certified products available. ENERGY STAR appliances reduce energy usage by both lowering electricity use and reducing water use, which reduces the amount of energy used to heat water.
Beyond large appliances, many of the products we use in our homes are functional but inefficient. Common household items such as incandescent light bulbs, power strips, and light switches can all be upgraded for a low cost to greatly reduce electricity consumption. For example, using an LED light bulb instead of a conventional incandescent bulb uses at least 75 percent less energy and lasts a remarkable 25 times longer. Multiply those savings by all of the light bulbs in your home, and the energy savings begin to pile up.
In addition to lightbulbs, products like advanced power strips, low-flow shower heads, and motion sensing dimmer switches all offer upgrades over conventional home tools to reduce your energy usage (and thus your electricity bill) without changing your lifestyle or habits much, if at all.
3. Upgrade your home’s weatherization and insulation
When you weatherize your home, you seal air leaks around it, which can help greatly reduce the energy you need to use to keep your home heated or cooled. Common areas for leaks are vents, windows, and doors, and they can all be weatherized to significantly reduce air leaks. Especially if you live in an older building, faulty seals on windows and doors can lead to a lot of unnecessary electricity use. The better the seal, the more effectively your home will stay at the temperature you set your thermostat to, and the less you’ll have to pay to run your heating and cooling system.
Similar to sealing your windows and doors, it’s a good idea to check the insulation on your entire home. Insulation is the protective layer in the walls of your home that helps maintain a constant temperature inside – warm during the winter, and cool during the summer. The more effective your insulation, the lower your electricity bills will be.
Beyond weatherizing, you should fully insulate your home to help retain heat in the winter and keep heat out in the summer. Depending on where you live and the area of your house you are insulating, you will need different types of insulation. Some of the most common areas to insulate are your attic, walls, floors, basement, and crawl spaces. By insulating your home properly, you can make heat and air conditioning last longer, and use less electricity through the powering of your HVAC system.
One less common area to focus on when checking insulation is your ductwork. Ducts are the pipes that move warm or cool air throughout your home from your air conditioning and heating units. The better insulated those pipes are, the less energy you’ll need to heat up or cool down your home.
Bonus: keep it clean!
While not technically a home upgrade, it’s worth your time to clean specific parts of your home. A few examples:
- Clean your refrigerator coils. Refrigerators use lots of electricity, and you’ll want those coils to perform as efficiently as possible.
- Replace the air filter in your heating and cooling system regularly. This helps keep the system running smoothly and reduces the work it needs to do to push air through your home.
- Clean off your windows in the winter. When it’s cold out, you can rely on the sun for some natural heat. Just make sure your windows are nice and clean so as much warmth can get in as possible.
4. Think about energy savings daily and adjust your routines
There are even ways you can reduce your electric bill by simply changing some of your habits. Forget spending extra money on upgraded appliances, insulation, or a cleaning service – here are some easy actions you can take right now to lower your electricity bill:
Dress for the occasion
This one might sound obvious, but it works! One way to rely less on your heating and cooling system is to simply dress for the weather. In the winter, throw on a sweater and don’t set the heat as high. In the summer, wear shorts and a t-shirt around the house and set the thermostat a few ticks higher than you usually would. Over time, you’ll save money and still be comfortable in your house.
Use less water
There are a few ways to strategically reduce your water usage around the home, which will save you money on water heating costs (which can be gas-powered or electric). Taking shorter showers is an obvious example, but did you know that dishwashers actually use about nine times less water than hand washing your dishes?
Use appliances strategically
You can also take steps to use the existing appliances you own (Energy Star certified or not) more strategically. For example, if you dry loads of laundry back to back, the dryer doesn’t need as much electricity to warm up the second time, because there will still be heat leftover from the first load. And to our point about dishwashers above, you can also make sure to fill the dishwasher completely when you do run it.
See what electricity costs near you
The more expensive your electricity is, the more you can save by taking the actions above. Curious how much electricity costs near you? Click on your state to learn more:
Save money on your electric bill with community solar
Community solar is a great way to save money compared to rooftop solar. By joining a solar farm project in your area, you can actually save 15 percent on your electricity bill by receiving credits. With community solar, most subscriptions involve no upfront cost, guaranteed savings, and allow you to cancel anytime without any penalty fees. Visit our marketplace to find a participating solar farm near you.
Generating your own electricity is the first step to cutting your electricity bill down to zero
Going solar is one of the most effective ways to reduce or eliminate your electric bill, and you should make sure you are getting several quotes from reputable installers before you decide to move forward. Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to compare quotes from high-quality solar installers in your area and begin breaking down your options.