April 9, 2024

19 Ways to Cut Your Energy Bills


30 Day Home Repairs

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity prices in the United States are rising at a dizzying rate, projected to jump 23% from just 13 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2019 to nearly 16 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2023. While you can't control your electricity bill, you can combat these price increases by reducing your energy usage. From switching to LED lightbulbs to air-sealing your home, there are plenty of ways to reduce your energy usage without investing a lot of money.

+ Get an energy audit

Before you try to find ways to reduce your electricity usage on your own, consider asking your utility company for help. In fact, reducing your energy usage can be more cost-effective for your utility company, so many utility companies will come to your home and perform a free home energy audit to help you determine ways you can save energy.

Electronics and Home Appliances

+ Defeat Vampire Energy

75% of the energy used by electronic devices occurs when they are turned off. Big screen TVs, stereo systems, gaming consoles and computer peripherals are some of the biggest power consumers. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, this wasted energy can account for up to 10% of your electric bill. Reduce power loss by disabling standby settings on smart devices or using smart power strips that power down when they sense inactivity.

Cost: $50 | Monthly Savings: $12 | Payback Period: 5 months

+ Maximize LEDs

If you're still living in the dark ages of incandescent bulbs, it's time to switch to LED bulbs. LED bulbs are 75% more efficient than incandescents and can save you over $200 a year on your energy bills. And if you're using CFL bulbs, replace them with LEDs when they burn out. LEDs last three times longer, saving you money.

Cost: $3 per 8.5 watt bulb | Monthly savings: $0.45 | Payback period: 7 months

HVAC systems

+ HVAC duct sealing

Up to 40% of the hot and cold air that enters your ducts escapes through seams, joints and gaps, many of which are covered with poorly applied tape. This means your hard-earned money is gone. You can minimize the loss by sealing holes with aluminum tape and sealing duct joints with mastic (painters putty). If the gap is larger than 1/4 inch, you should apply mesh drywall tape to the gap before applying the mastic.

Cost: $40 | Monthly Savings: $9.33 | Payback Period: 4 months

+ Invest in a programmable or smart thermostat

For every degree you set your thermostat above your normal temperature setting, you can save an additional 2% on your energy bills. You can maximize these savings by adding a programmable or smart thermostat. A programmable thermostat allows you to set your thermostat up to 10 degrees higher than normal while you're away to save money. A smart thermostat can maximize these savings even further by automatically identifying whether you're at home or away, or even upstairs or downstairs, and adjusting your thermostat accordingly.

Cost: $80 | Monthly Savings: $5 | Payback Period: 16 months

+ Keep your air filters clean

According to the DOE, dirty air filters force your HVAC system to work extra hard to push hot and cold air around your home, increasing your electricity consumption by up to 15%. To keep your air conditioner and furnace running efficiently, change your air filters every three months.

Cost: $50 | Monthly Savings: $8.33 | Payback Period: 6 months

+ Use blinds strategically

Window blinds and curtains aren't just for privacy and aesthetics. They can also help you save money on heating and cooling your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, blinds and curtains can reduce heat absorption by up to 45%. In winter, open south-facing blinds to let sunlight into your home and help heat it. In summer, close the blinds to block out the sun and keep your home cooler.

Cost: $50 per blind | Monthly savings: $5 | Payback period: 10 months


+ Throttle back shower

Showers account for 26% of a home's hot water usage, and installing a low-flow showerhead can reduce that soak from 2.5 gallons per minute to 1.5 gallons per minute, reducing the amount of energy your water heater uses to heat the water while also reducing your water usage.

Cost: $30 | Monthly savings: $6 | Payback period: 5 months

+ Turn down the water heater thermostat

Most water heaters default to a temperature of 130-140 degrees, which is too hot for human skin. Turn your thermostat down to 120 degrees. Your water heater will be safer and you could save up to 5% on your hot water costs.

Cost: $0 | Monthly Savings: $2 | Payback: 0

+ Clean the water heater

Over time, underwater sediment builds up in your water heater tank. This layer of sediment settles to the bottom of the tank, creating a barrier between the heating element and the water, forcing your water heater to work harder to heat the water. Drain your water heater once a year to flush out the sediment and keep your water heater running efficiently.

Cost: $0 | Monthly Savings: $2 | Payback: 0

+ Add a timer to your water heater

If you have an electric water heater, you can reduce your energy usage by adding a timer. These timers turn off your water heater when hot water is not being used, such as at night or while you are at work, reducing energy usage by up to 12%.

Cost: $60 | Monthly Savings: $6 | Payback Period: 10 months

Chimneys, windows, attics, basements

+ Insulate the attic hatch

Gaps around your attic hatch allow heat to escape in the winter and hot air to get in during the summer. You can reduce this airflow by adding an insulating cover for your attic stairs. These covers are affordable, easy to install, and effective.

Cost: $30 for pre-made tent | Monthly savings: $4 | Payback period: 7.5 months

+ Stuffing the chimney

On average, 14% of the air that enters and leaves your home flows through your chimney. If you don't use your fireplace often, seal it with an inflatable draft blocker or make your own out of a garbage bag stuffed with fiberglass insulation. Be sure to remove it before using your fireplace.

Cost: $50 | Monthly Savings: $2.33 | Payback Period: 21 months

+ Windows Upgrade

Replacing your old single-pane windows with high-performance, double-pane, low-reflectance glass seems like a good idea, but they cost hundreds of dollars a piece, and you'll have to wait a while to see results. Inexpensive storm windows quickly pay for themselves, especially for DIYers. According to the DOE, exterior storm windows can reduce winter heat loss over single-pane windows by up to 33%.

Cost: $100 DIY installation for one low-reflectance storm window | Monthly savings: $2.75 per window | Payback period: 3 years

+ Seal the house

The average home loses 35% of heat through gaps in walls, around windows and doors, and through pipes, electrical boxes and vents that penetrate exterior walls or the attic floor. Use fiberglass insulation or spray foam to seal gaps around plumbing, electrical and vents that penetrate exterior walls or the attic. Add weatherstripping to doors and windows. The DOE estimates that homeowners can reduce their energy bills by an average of 15% by adding airtightness and insulation.

Cost: $100 | Monthly Savings: $15 | Payback Period: 7 months

Tony Carrick headshot

Tony Carrick is a full-time freelance writer specializing in technology, home improvement, DIY, home security, and outdoor recreation. He tests and writes about everything from home security systems to power tools and gas grills. His product guides, how-to articles, and feature stories have appeared in publications such as Bob Vila, Angi, US News and World Report, Field & Stream, Futurism, and Switchful. When he's not writing, you can find him working on his latest home improvement project at his home in North Carolina.


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