It’s that time of the year again. It's time to crank the air conditioning and sit in the living room binging on Netflix whilst sipping your favorite cold beverage (from a glass quickly becoming slick with condensation). Each time you raise the glass to your lips, you bask in the fact that you are a homeowner: master of your domain. Aaaah.
Of course, with the instant gratification you receive by doing this you are certainly not thinking of the cost. You can’t, it’s too hot! But as soon as the electric bill shows up, you swear that you'll be smarter about how you consume electricity. And no matter how nice it feels, you won’t use the air conditioner again. Unless it’s really hot out. Like really hot. And then just long enough to cool down and chill the living room out…and the bedroom. And you might just put a fan, a small fan, in the bathroom. The next thing you know, you’re running fans and air conditioners in every room and the electric bill is preposterously high again. What can you do?
Know Your Provider's Standard Operating Provider's Standard Operating Provider's Standard Operating Procedure
One thing you can do is learn about any stipulations your electric company may have. Most companies have certain times when electricity consumption will cost much more than other periods throughout the day, a fee that is sometimes as high as four times the normal rate! Some companies, like National Grid (a company that serves New England and New York), call their clients with a prerecorded message alerting them to this fact, and keep "peak" times posted to their website, as well. Not all electric companies will volunteer this information, so you may have to do a little research. Once you know the peak hours during which you will be charged the most, you can plan activities around those times.
Other companies, such as Xcel Energy, will actually work with you to make a plan that best suits your needs. Instead of forcing you to work around their schedule, they will work around yours with their "Time of Day" plan.
Plan Your Chores Around Peak Hours
If you need to do laundry or run your dishwasher, you are better off waiting until non-peak hours to do so. Non-peak hours may not be the most convenient times, but if you’re looking to cut down on your bill so you can enjoy the air conditioner, then this is a great way to start. Running your washing machine with cold water can also significantly reduce your bill since water heaters average $50 a month worth of usage. Setting your dryer to a lower heat setting will also save energy; washing and drying clothes typically uses approximately $300 per year. Think positive: you are more likely to take colder showers during the summer, further cutting down on your water heater usage.
Check Your Small Appliances
Another thing that people tend to overlook when it comes to saving money on their electric bill is shutting off computer monitors when leaving for the day; don’t just allow the screen to sleep. Unplug chargers from the wall, or if you have several appliances plugged into a surge protector, shut off the power to the surge protector itself. Even though electronics like your television, gaming systems, Blu-Ray/DVD players might be powered off, you’ll notice a light on them, which indicates that they are still utilizing small amounts of electricity.
It may seem like there cannot possibly be that much energy being used while electronics are powered down, but with a television in almost every room, multiple components attached to those televisions, and chargers for phones, tablets and laptops, all those small amounts of energy add up. For example, your television can cost you between $22 and $110 per year (based on five hours of daily use). Have an Xbox or Playstation console? Those will cost you about $40 per year. It's a smart to move to conserve energy (and cash) for the 10+ hours a day you aren't home by unplugging your smaller appliances.
Change Your Light Bulbs
Your standard run of the mill 60-watt bulb uses about $26 a year in electricity. That's per bulb. Now think about how many are in your home and how that adds up. If you switch to LED bulbs that cost drops significantly - $4.40 per year per bulb. This is about an 85% decrease in cost annually. How's that for a bright idea?
Obviously you have appliances that need energy all day. How else will the refrigerator and freezer provide you with your chilled beverages? You can’t avoid certain charges. But by following the few simple steps we have provided, you can conserve energy and stay cool without your electric bill sending chills down your spine.