The complete guide to saving money on electricity
To me, saving money on electricity is something we should all do. It’s easy to achieve, often costs us nothing to implement and has the ability to save a significant amount of money over any given month or year.
Unlike other tips to save money, reducing electricity usage (and wastage) is something that simply means finding ways to improve upon your current habits. You simply need to methodically audit your house for ways to reduce the cost of electricity and doesn’t require any major reworkings of the brain to learn how to save.
So for this article, I want you to not just read it – but take the time to do, implement and save. These tips can save you money and reduce your carbon footprint – a win win.
Here are the best and easiest ways to save on electricity
Never leave the lights on in a room (or anywhere)
If you aren’t in the room, why is the light on? Why spend electricity to illuminate a room for no one? This is the most simple electricity saving tip available.
We often forget that every second a light is on, we are paying for it. Imagine a little clock like sign with dollars and sense – every second your lights are on, the number is getting larger. If you add up the amount of rooms in your house and the frequency at which the average household leaves them on for no reason – we are quickly seeing lots of money wasted on electricity.
Also, don’t leave outside lights on. Many people leave lights on to welcome home a family member or make it easier for them to see, why not install approach lights instead?
Here’s a tip. Why not avoid the lights altogether? I often turn the light on during the day when I go to the bathroom or enter another room – why? I have no idea. It’s a habit. A habit that is costing me money and making my electricity bill that little bit bigger. Also, if you are a parent – teach your kids this principle. They then become your extended army of money savers.
Replace every light bulb in your home with energy efficient bulbs
How many light bulbs do you think are in your house? I did a quick back of the envelope count in my house and I would estimate around 20 and I have a very small house.
Now think about how many of those lights (indoor and outdoor) likely still have old fashioned light bulbs? Some of these light bulbs probably haven’t been replaced in 10-15 years believe it or not.
Take 10 minutes out of your day to change each and every light bulb to the new electricity saving bulbs. I am told they can cut your lighting bill in half, if not more in many cases. Imagine if your electricity bill consisted of $100 worth of lighting costs – overnight that could be reduced to $50 by installing these new bulbs.
Don’t use the clothes dryer – it uses too much electricity
Regardless of energy ratings, the household clothes dryer is often a big electricity user. It consumes a heavy amount of electricity and should be used sparingly.
Invest in a clean, new and large enough clothes line that attaches to the side of your house. The more you can dry your clothes outside, the more electricity you can save. Having the clothes line near the side of your house also means the heat in the bricks can help dry the clothes faster.
On most days, an item of clothing should be able to dry within 1 hour given proper exposure to sun or breezes.
If you must use the dryer, make sure your clothes are spun dry in washing machine before removing. This will improve drying time and reduce electricity.
Stand by electricity usage
Think about this for a second. How many hours per day would you watch TV? For me, I am at work between 7am and 7pm most days. I then watch TV for 2 hours at night before going to bed.
So in a full 24 hour day, I have watched 2 hours of TV yet am paying to have the TV and all of its equipment on standby for the other 22 hours. What for? Why pay for this?
Simply opt to turn off your electrical items at the power point when not in use. As I sit here, I could easily find 20 powerpoints or items plugged into them that are still switched on – which in turn is charging us for sitting on idle, wasted money as such. I challenge you to turn off 5 power points or devices that are not getting used per day – and you will knock a couple of hundred dollars off your electricity bill per quarter.
Hunt down electricity savings
How many times do you walk past a powerpoint that is on for no reason and simply leave it? Make it a game to hunt down anything that is costing you money and could in turn be saving you money on electricity.
Unplug items not in use, turn off power points, turn off lights (as mentioned above) and look to always find new ways to use less electricity.
The 30 day challenge – can you not use electricity for 30 days?
A great way to save money on electricity is to set yourself set periods of time by which you promise yourself not to use electricity. This may mean a whole weekend or perhaps even a full 30 days.
Challenge yourself to not use any electricity beyond simple lighting. The goal is to go back to basics, cut a chunk of money out of your electricity bill and opt to enjoy the more simple, less costly pleasures in life.
Consider reading a book instead of watching TV, using the clothes lines instead of the dryer, hand washing basic items instead of using the full washing machine. There are many ways we can reduce our electricity usage by simply donating a little more of our time to everyday tasks.
Use natural lighting to reduce paid lighting
In my house I have terrible natural lighting. This means I am reliant heavily upon turning lights on at just about all times of the day. Perhaps I would be wiser to consider getting a skylight or what they call a ‘solatube’ installed to allow natural light in.
While the once off costs of installing and buying such a product may seem frustrating, the long term savings will be significant. Imagine never having to turn on a light in the hallway again during daylight hours? Multiple that by many many years and you have yourself a big electricity bill saving.
Candles in bathroom
This kills two birds with one stone. Use a candle in the bathroom to reduce your need for lighting both at nighttime and during the day. It also makes a pleasant smell to hide any ‘less desirable’ odours.
They look nice, smell nice, are cheap and can reduce your night time electricity usage. Just be ultra careful you don’t burn the house down!
Check your electricity reading in your electricity box
Often power companies and electricity providers are unable to read your electricity usage metre. This may be because the contracted electricity reader cannot find your box or perhaps they were in a rush that day.
If they don’t check your box, by law they are allowed to give you an average reading without checking the real usage. This means you may be paying for more electricity than you really used simply because your metre box wasn’t found.
Always check your electricity bill that arrives in the mail against your metre. This will check for accuracy and if you pick up anything that is ‘not’ in your favour – report it. If you find they have under-estimated your electricity usage – good for you and shh!
Look into peak and off peak electricity prices
Most companies charged different rates for electricity usage based on the time of day. This means you might be far better off doing the washing late at night than say mid morning. This really depends on the electricity company you are with so I would suggest ringing them up directly, asking them to tell you when off peak is and start to utilise it to your advantage ongoing.
The price difference between peak and off peak can save you big money.
Turn the heating off when you sleep
Heating in winter can be very expensive. When you go to bed, opt to rug up and invest in some decent blankets and doonas to avoid running the heating overnight. This will cut up to 8 hours of hardcore electricity usage out of each and every day in winter, a huge and substantial saving.
Got air conditioning? Run it sparingly to save money
In summertime, the air conditioning unit is often the number one culprit for sky high electricity bills.
Run the air con sparingly in summer. Do not put the temperature right down because you are hot. Instead opt to set the temperature only a few degrees below the outside temperature to make it a nice pleasant indoor temperature.
For instance, if it is 28 degrees outside, set your air conditioning for 24 degrees. This will be enough to significantly cool you down whilst not making your air con work on overdrive to drop the temperature to something ridiculous like 15 degrees. Less is more with air conditioning, both from a usage perspective and saving money perspective.
Shut doors to rooms you don’t use – don’t pay to heat (or cool) an empty space
A quick and easy tip to save money on electricity. Never pay to heat or cool a section of your house that you aren’t using. Why bother? What is the point spending a $5 an hour over summer to cool a room that no one will ever go in?
Shut the doors, compartmentalise the house and look to always section off rooms that are not in use. Your house will cool/heat faster and you will save money doing so.
Look into timers for powerpoints
I often leave the lights on when I am out to make people think we are home. If you too do this, consider using a timer to turn the lights on for 15 minutes every 1 hour or so. This is enough to scare any would be crims into thinking you are home.
Timers for powerpoints can also be great to set daylight hours on appliances. For instance, you might want to automate the turn off of your standby power devices each day by setting a time to turn them completely off from 10pm to 5am or similar.
Have a think about the creative ways a timer could reduce your electricity bill. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below also.
Your fridge, its seal and how it uses too much electricity
Fridge seals are the rim around the door that close it and stop cold air escaping. If your fridge seal is broken, odds are you are paying 5 times more than the next person to run a fridge. Get the seal fixed by a professional or instead by a brand new fridge. The savings will almost pay for itself in one year.
Consider replacing old appliances for new ones
Old appliances have terrible energy ratings. Look to upgrade your oldies for new. Don’t spend 20 years using a power sucking washing machine, odds are a new one is not as much as you think and the savings it can help you make (from an electricity usage and water usage point of view) are substantial.
Gamify your electricity bill – how long can you go without using a light?
Make it a game to reduce your electricity bill. Aim to see how many hours you can go without using a light or appliance each day. Do you really need to use ANY lights before night time each day?
Switch off electric hot water system if going away
Hot water systems often heat water regardless of demand. This means you may be paying to heat water while you are away. Newer hot water systems heat only on demand, which saves substantial money – however the old ones may be worth turning off for extended periods of time that you won’t be using.
Microwaves are more efficient than ovens
Microwaves reportedly cook food 3x faster and use under half of the amount of electricity that a conventional oven would.
Consider learning to cook using the microwave. You can steam veggies, cook eggs and more. Seriously, check this one out.
Thaw frozen meals naturally
While the above tip urges you to use the microwave, why not prepare ahead and defrost meats and meals naturally by taking out of the microwave each day a good number of hours before you eat?
A silly and easy tip to save electricity that really adds up over a year.
Only use the dishwasher when it is a full load
Wash items by hand unless you have a full load to put in the dishwasher. Some dishwashers are smart enough to do an ‘eco’ wash for small amount, however most of them end up using the full amount of water regardless of how many dishes you put in.
Turn off spare fridges and freezers
Spare appliances (especially big ones like this) consumer significant energy. Want to have double the electricity bill of an average household? Have double the usual appliances running.
Turn them off and only plug them in when you actually need them (like Christmas time when Uncle Larry brings over his usual two slabs of beers; for himself)
Don’t let ice build up in your freezer
Ice prevents cold air from circulating in the freezer and makes the fridge work overtime to compensate. Always keep your freezer frost free and clean.