According to the U.S Energy Information Administration, the average electric bill for U.S. residential customers in 2022 was $137 per month — which adds up to about $1,600 a year. By making some changes to our home and daily habits, we can shave a significant amount of money from that total. All it takes is a bit of conscious effort. Here are all the ways you can save on your electric bill without sacrificing comfort or convenience.

Be Smart About Heating and Cooling

A cellphone displays a screen with a house icon and indicators to display the thermostat's settingThese record-setting heat waves probably did a number on your energy bill, whether you cranked the air conditioning to sub-arctic settings or just gathered all the fans in your house and aimed them at yourself. It was a matter of survival, so don’t sweat it. (Pun intended.) But now that the temperatures are settling down a bit, you can save a few dollars by automating your home thermostat. If you can set your thermostat to run 7°-10° lower or higher (depending on the season) for eight hours a day, you could save around 10% of your annual heating and cooling costs. Most people choose to do this when they’re away from home, while at work or running errands during the day. 

It’s also a good idea to do an energy audit of your home. Most utility companies offer them for free, and some even have a “virtual” energy audit you can do by answering questions online. The idea is to identify ways you can reduce your energy usage, such as updating major appliances or replacing faulty seals on windows and doors. Speaking of which: make sure you are also changing your air filters regularly, so that your HVAC isn’t having to work overtime pumping air through layers of dust. 

Pay Attention to Your Hot Water Use

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, hot water is the second-largest expense in powering most homes. To save money on utilities, you need to be conscious of a lot more than just how long your showers are (although taking shorter showers does help.) 

Hot Water Heater Adjustments

A close-up image of a hand adjusting the temperature setting of a hot water heaterTo start, adjust the temperature setting on your water heater. If you lower the temperature to 120°F you can reduce energy costs by anywhere between 4%-22% annually (the default setting is usually 140°F.) Another option is to get a smart controller for your water heater, like this one from Amazon. They cost about $150, and work by controlling the temperature of your water heater, only producing hot water when you need it. Some are smart enough that they’ll analyze your hot water usage and turn the heater on and off accordingly. Oh, and if you haven’t insulated your water heater yet, doing so isn’t difficult or expensive and can also save you some money.

Dishwasher Tips

Replacing your major appliances with energy efficient models can also make a huge difference. A dishwasher with the EPA’s Energy Star label uses 12% less energy and 30% less water on average than a model without that rating. Doing this change is even more efficient than hand-washing your dishes: According to the California Energy Commission, using an Energy Star-qualified dishwasher instead of hand washing can save you 5,000 gallons of water and $40 in utility costs each year, on average. Consumer Reports also advises that you skip rinsing dishes before loading them as it’s a waste of water and your time and that you wait until the dishwasher is full before running it for maximum efficiency.

Washer and Dryer Advice

a woman's hands are pulling clothes out of the washer to put in the dryerAlong these same lines, you can save money with an energy efficient clothes washer as well. Almost 90% of a washing machine’s energy consumption is spent on heating the water, according to EnergyStar, so reduce your electric bill by washing clothes in warm or cold water (which also prevents shrinking, fading, and wrinkling, so it’s win-win.)

As for drying those clothes, you can save money by adding an extra spin cycle before removing them from the washer, and making sure the lint trap is clean for every load! Even better? Opt to air dry your clothing on a line outside or use a drying rack indoors. 

Power and Lighting Options

Keeping the lights on accounts for about 15% of a home’s energy usage, so replacing all your lightbulbs with LEDs that have the Energy Star label can make a big difference. In the same vein, dimmer switches (with compatible bulbs) and lights that turn on and off with motion sensors will also save energy.

In a nicely furnished living room, a TV is turned off but has cartoonish vampire teeth. A droplet is hanging off one fang, with a lightning bolt symbol on itSomething you probably haven’t thought of, though, are “vampire electronics.” Many electronic gadgets like TVs, computers, and speakers never truly power off. They sit in standby mode, which uses a trickle of power that can account for a surprising amount of energy use. The solution is simple: smart power strips or plugs. These cut off the current when devices aren’t in use, and require almost zero effort from you to monitor.

Finally, many utility providers offer cheaper rates during parts of the day when energy usage is down. If you are able to do energy-intensive chores at off-peak hours, such as early in the morning or late at night, you might be able to reduce your bill significantly.

Other Articles You Might Enjoy: