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10 Tips on How to Save Money on Your Electric Bill

2012 December 17
by Charlie

charlie_imageTwo weeks ago my sister and brother-in-law moved into an apartment, and were concerned about the cost of rent and the electricity bills. When they called the electric company they quoted them $150/month, but after they signed the lease the landlord said it was closer to $185. With their already constrained budget this makes it even harder to make it monthly.

As I walked around their apartment I told my sis a few of the tips that can help to lower her family’s electric bills. In doing so I realized that I’d come up with 10 tips, and would make for an ideal blog post! :) So here are a few tips to help you save money on your electric bill. Thanks sis! 


  1. Change Ceiling Fan Rotation – were you aware that most fans have switches on them that can change the rotation? During the winter, have your fans rotating in a clockwise direction to push trapped warm air down. In the summer, fans should rotate in counter-clockwise direction to create a comfortable breeze.
  2. Open Shades During The Winter & Close Shades During the Summer – by keeping them closed during the winter you can naturally heat your house with UV rays, and the drawn shades during the summer will help keep the house cooled during those bright summer days. These seasonal tips will help you save a few dollars on your heating and air conditioning.
  3. Close The Basement Door – at my sisters townhome their basement door faces directly on the thermostat on the main level. Undoubtedly, this would cause the house to feel cooler during the winter, and make you use more heat (especially if you have an unfinished basement). Try and close the basement door during the winter months to trap the coldest air in your house, and during the summer open up the door to let the cool air upstairs.
  4. Switch to Compact Fluorescent Bulbs – in 2006 I switched all of our bulbs from incandescent to compact flourescent. The following year I lowered my average monthly bill by about $15-30 from the signicant decrease in electricity costs. If you are just moving into an apartment and don’t want to put this money into someone else’s property, take them all out when you move in, put them in a bag, and store them until you move out. When you go to move out, then put back the old bulbs back.
  5. Not Putting All The Lights In – do you have a bathroom or chandelier that have 3-7 bulbs in it? Why do you need to put in that many? Especially in your non-high traffic areas (i.e. bathrooms). In my kids bathroom I have 2 out of the 3 bulbs in there and it works just fine. Try it out.Matching_Bulbs
  6. Programmable Thermostat – have you invested in a programmable thermostat yet? You might be wasting extra energy when you don’t need too. These nifty little devices are excellent for scheduling temp changes during the night, and especially nice if both residents work during the day and want to lower the thermostat during your weekly 9-5 job.
  7. Lower Your Water Temp – some people have electric water heaters and it might save you a few $$’s to lower your temp. Especially if you are going away for a long weekend or vacation. Setting it to “vacation mode” will help drive down your electric or gas costs.Hotwater Heater
  8. Utilize a Wood Fireplace – if you have a wood fireplace, then become a lumberjack and learn how to use an ax. Seriously though, take advantage of the wood fireplace if you have one to help lower your heating bills. From looking at my sisters apartment it looked like the previous owners never used their fireplace, and could be a big reason why their old heating bills (electric furnace) were so high.
  9. Purchase a Space Heater – do you have particular areas of the house you stay in, but don’t want to heat the whole house? Or do you want to turn down the house heat at night, but don’t want to freeze the kids to death? Then buy a space heater to heat those particular areas. It’ll probably pay for itself in a few years!
  10. Dry Clothes on a Clothesline – your dryers cost you a lot of money, and buy throwing up a clothesline you can stick-it to the electric company! Try it out and your clothes will last longer, be better smelling, and save you money along the way.

These are just a few tips to help you drive down your electric costs. What tips do you use to help save a few dollars on your electric bill?

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Charlie

An IT professional, Charlie also buys and sells liens, lives on the cheap, runs marathons and helps to run his family farm. In his spare moments, he raises 3 children, does the dishes and writes one post a week. His former blog, Frugal Retirement Plan, has been cited by US News and World Report.

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10 Responses
  1. December 17, 2012

    I am okay with all the tips mentioned above, infact i have some come across a few mentioned above, but i am still skeptical about the ceiling fan thing.

  2. kelly thompson permalink
    December 17, 2012

    thanks

  3. December 17, 2012

    What about those plastic wraps that you use a hair dryer to stick to the window frame on the inside of your home? I have seen them but never purchased. Do you know if they help? Or are they a bigger hassle than worth?

  4. December 17, 2012

    Awesome tips. I actually use most of these and have been able to keep our bill down a good amount. There are still other things I would like to do and your tips have helped wrap my head around them.

  5. December 17, 2012

    I agree with the compact flourescent bulbs. I changed all mine over in 2006 as well as saw my bill go down $25/month. Another easy energy savings is to unplug phone chargers when not in use. The continue to cycle and use energy even when not charging. But your biggest energy drains will be outdated appliances. Upgrading a 20+ year old fridge or dryer will save you enough to enough to pay for the device within a few years.

  6. December 17, 2012

    What about simply dressing warmer in the winter? I live in Canada and slippers are necessary in my home as are sweaters or a house coat.
    Flannel sheets and an extra blanket on all beds are big money savers as well.

    I also use my toaster oven for cooking small items and try and fill my oven when I use it.

  7. December 17, 2012

    @Diane – good point about the plastic covers that can go over you doors and windows! I forgot to include those. They can save you money, but I think one big factor is if you can reuse them from year to year. If you get them on sale they are about $5-10, so it might be hard to recoop those costs in just one year.

    @Scott – great point about updating your appliances. The problem renters have though is that they don’t want to update the landlord’s appliances. Obviously it’s a different cirumstance if you own your home.

    @Jane – haha!!! My sister actually talked about wearing insulated shirts just so she could drop the temp! Also good point about the use of multiple blankets to stay warm at night.

    @Maud – I understand your skepticism on the ceiling fan savings. I don’t actually have dollar figures for what it can save $ wise, but may be worth it. Have you by chance?

  8. December 18, 2012

    I found this great website while getting some of my Recyclebank points. It tells you how much all of your consumer electronics are costing you in your home! http://www.greenergadgets.org/Energy-Calc.aspx

  9. Susannah permalink
    December 21, 2012

    Charlie, I think you misunderstood what Diane’s asking about. The window films that you apply with a hair dryer or heat gun are not reusable. They are clear plastic shrink wrap. You stick them around the edges of the window molding with double-sided tape, then apply heat so they thicken and become more rigid as they shrink to cling perfectly to the molding. Removing them usually destroys them, and even if you removed them intact, you couldn’t get them back on a second time anyhow.

    They are very effective if you have old drafty windows. I used to own a house built in 1948 that had its original single-pane wood-frame windows. The first winter’s heating bills were outrageous. The second year, we bought window films and a heat gun. We recouped that expense in the first month.

    They are not difficult to install. Just make sure you keep the heat gun in motion or you’ll melt a hole!

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