7 energy-saving tips that may help lower your bills
Whether you’re talking to a friend or neighbor, one subject that seems to come up a lot is the cost of living these days. Groceries, gas, eating out — it all costs more than it did a couple of years ago. And your home energy bills are no different.1 The good news? There are changes you can make that may lower your monthly home energy bills.
Even better, you may be able to save without giving up comfort, safety or the health of your family, says Jennifer Amann, senior fellow at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Here are 7 energy saving tips to help lower the costs.
1. Wash clothes in cold water
Approximately 90% of the energy a washing machine uses is to heat up the water, according to EnergyStar.gov.2 Instead of washing clothes in warm or hot water, use cold water. No need to switch to a pricier cold-water detergent either, notes Amann. “Today’s detergents are designed to work well in cold water,” she explains. If you do need to wash clothes in hot water, do a full load to take advantage of the setting.
2. Set the spin cycle on your washing machine to high
This allows your clothes to come out as dry as possible before they’re put in the dryer. One exception is delicate clothes. Follow the instructions on the label for those.
3. Use a lower temperature setting on the dryer
The dryer is one of the biggest energy users in homes, according to Amann. But setting it to a lower temperature may help lower your bills and save energy. “Even if the dryer runs longer, it will still save significant energy,” says Amann. Plus, a lower-heat setting is less damaging on clothes — and that helps them last longer.
4. Run the dishwasher overnight
It takes more energy to wash dishes by hand than it does running a dishwasher, according to Energy.gov.3 But dishwashers can add heat and humidity into a home, notes Amann. In the summertime, that extra heat causes air conditioners to kick on more often. To avoid this, run the dishwasher at night. “Turn it on before bed and let it run overnight. That way it will be completely cooled off by time you wake up,” she says.
Running the dishwasher late at night also takes advantage of lower electricity rates during off-peak hours.4 Off-peak hours are generally between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and all day on the weekends and some holidays.5 Also, don’t forget to scrape off food and use the air-dry setting. Those steps all help the machine run more efficiently.
5. Adjust your thermostat during the winter
Turn down the thermostat by 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours a day. That way, you may save as much as 10% per year on your energy bills, according to Energy.gov.4 It’s easy to reach that 8-hour goal too. Just lower the thermostat overnight when you’re asleep and whenever you’re away from home.
6. Use small appliances for cooking in the summer
Cooking also generates a lot of heat in your house. Every time you open the oven door or turn on burners, you’re heating your home. So, when it’s hot outside, try to avoid using the stove or oven, says Amann. Instead, use small appliances, like the microwave, slow cooker or air fryer. “This will help reduce the load on your air conditioner and keep your space more comfortable,” she says. Or try making meals you can serve up cold or at room temperature, such as salads and sandwiches.
7. Open and close curtains, blinds and shades with the seasons
Windows may also affect your energy bills. “Think about how you’re using your window treatments,” says Amann. In the summer, pull down the shades to keep out the sun. In the winter, keep shades open to let in the warm sunlight. There is one exception in winter, she says. If you have a drafty window, it’s better to keep the shades closed.
Saving money on your energy bills can begin today. Just follow these simple tips to get started.