Can you really save money on electricity?
Yes, but some of the savings are not as visible as you would like. When I turn off the lights again for the 37th time today, I don’t hear coins being dropped into a jar representing my savings.
It can be easy to think that small changes like flipping the switch don’t make much of a difference in terms of saving money. However, every little bit helps and adds up when money is tight or you are working towards a financial goal.
I’m not gonna lie. Trying to cut down your monthly expenses– including your electric bill – is a struggle. However, trimming costs is absolutely worth it when you see how much you are able to save over a period of time!
5 Ways to Save Money on Electricity Without Spending Any Money
(1) Time of Use Plan
Just by making a simple call to your electric company, you can enroll in the Time of Use plan (this may have a different name based on the company).
The Time of Use plan is essentially a schedule of peak and non-peak hours. This can change based on the season and even the day of the week.
For example, the peak period from June through September in Atlanta, GA is from 2-7 pm during the week. As of this writing, the cost per kilowatt (kWh) is 20¢. All other usage times – all day Saturday, all day Sunday and Monday-Friday before 2 pm and after 7 pm – is just 5¢ per kWh.
The idea is that you spend less per kilowatt of electricity used during off peak hours than you would during peak hours. Here are the biggest energy users in the house:
If you can arrange it so that you’re NOT using those appliances during peak hours, you’ll save on your electricity bill. In fact, based on kWh usage alone you’ll save 75%!
We’ve been conscious about this and it’s resulted in savings of about $100 in one year!
Note from Tiffany: Be sure to stay up to date with the current Time of Use plan. Ours changes in the winter, where peak times move to the morning instead of the afternoon!
(2) Budget Billing
While you are on the phone with your electric company, go ahead and set up budget billing. This will equalize the payments throughout the year so you don’t have the wide fluctuations between summer and winter payments.
Technically it isn’t saving you money on electricity, but having a consistent amount to budget each month will allow you to save money by not needing to scramble and come up with extra cash when the bill is higher.
(3) Turning the AC warmer and turning the heater cooler
This past summer, I was trying to cut down regular bills wherever I could in an effort to save as much money as possible.
I found out the biggest electric expense was running the air conditioner, since I was already following the Time of Use schedule. Just by adjusting the air conditioner warmer by 1 degree, I could cut up to 3% of my usage!
So instead of keeping the air conditioner at 76 degrees during peak hours, I bumped the temperature up to 79 or 80. It was a little on the warm side, but bearable with a fan.
As soon as those peak hours were over, we turned our air conditioner down and cooled the place during non-peak hours, which in turn helped keep cool a little longer into the peak hours of the next day.
Since the budget billing is adjusted every quarter, I didn’t see any cost savings until after the summer was over, but when I did, whoa it was a pretty substantial drop!
Normally, I pay between $150-145/month on my electric bill for an upstairs apartment in Arizona, but the amount has been stable at $147 for a while. After the adjustment, the bill is now running $133/month- a savings of $14!
Now that it is winter, I am trying to keep the costs lower by keeping the apartment a little cooler and turning the heater off completely at night. We sleep better anyways when it is cool.
I do live in a very moderate winter climate and understand this method may not be entirely feasible everywhere. However, if you can adjust the heat to be a little cooler than normal, you will save money while bundling up with an extra sweater.
Note from Tiffany: Charissa inspired me to look at the rates for our current electric company and as of this writing, the cost per kWh when you exceed 650 kWh DOUBLES in the summer months. Seriously! So when you’re wondering why people say to adjust the air conditioning to save money, it’s because the electric company is literally charging more to use it!
(4) Cooking habits
When you cook with a crock pot, a pressure cooker or the microwave, you use less electricity than using the stove or the oven – even if you are cooking for a longer period of time with the crock pot.
Since I don’t pay attention to the Time of Use plan when I cook dinner, being intentional about making food in these appliances help cut costs down in the kitchen.
If you do use the stove or the oven, consider double cooking. Instead of heating up the oven twice for dinner and dessert, pop them both in at the same time or one right after the other if the temperature differs.
Another way to double cook, is to make double of the same dish. You can either use the food for leftovers or freeze for later. Either way, it will mean at least one other night you will not be cooking dinner.
Note from Tiffany: I don’t mean to keep interrupting here, but Charissa wrote an AWESOME post on how she stretches one chicken into 31 meals for just $1 each. Her comment about making double of the same dish got me thinking- what if you did double of her whole chicken plan? You’d save electricity of course, but you’ll also have 31 meals made just for the freezer!
(5) Turn off lights and unplug
Why is it that everyone forgets to turn off the lights when they leave a room? I am constantly turning off lights that I, and others leave on.
While you may not be able see the savings each time you turn off the light switch, it is a frugal habit and will contribute towards a lower electric bill over time.
You can also save up to 20% on your electric bill, like Tiffany did, by unplugging appliances that are not in use. I need to try this myself to see how much I can save.
Here are a few additional options on how to save more on your electric bill, if you are willing to spend some money first.
- Change your air filters every couple of months. As the air filters get dirty, the air flow through them is lessened, making your heater and AC work harder, thus requiring more use of electricity.
- You can also pay for an energy audit. Locally, the going price is about $100 and the audit will show you where you are wasting electricity the most.
- Buy a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperatures inside your home, especially for Time of Use plans.
- Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs tend to last longer and use a lot less electricity. Just be careful as these bulbs contain mercury.
It is possible to save money on your electric bill by doing a few simple things around the house, changing a couple of habits, and by making a couple of phone calls. The savings are not dramatic, but can certainly help decrease overall household expenses.
One thing I have found to be a money game changer is tracking your savings each month and putting it immediately towards your financial goal. For example, I have kept the amount for my electric bill at $150 in my budget and transfer the extra money into a savings account.
Tracking your savings will assure you that yes, you can save money on your electric bill. And if you find a solution to lights being left on… please tell me!
Interested in tracking your own savings? Check out my Savings Tracker worksheet here.
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Do you have any other creative ways to save on electricity?
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