Outside of a mortgage, home energy bills are generally one of your most expensive monthly costs. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the typical U.S. household spent an average of $122 and used 892 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month in 2021—a total of $1,464 annually on electricity alone.
So if you’re tired of expensive energy bills, save money by making your home more energy-efficient. There are lots of strategies available, many of which are simple and affordable.
1. Swap Out Your Old Light Bulbs
Incandescent light bulbs are one of the cheapest lighting options on the market, but they’re also one of the most inefficient. Replace old bulbs with more energy-efficient alternatives, such as CFLs or LEDs. They might cost more than incandescent bulbs, but they use less electricity and last significantly longer.
2. Alter Your Thermostat Settings
Setting your thermostat a few degrees higher in the summer and lower in the winter means your HVAC won’t have to run as often to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. You might not feel the difference physically, but you may notice it in your monthly energy bills.
According to the Department of Energy, you can save approximately 1% per degree of thermostat adjustment per eight hours. By going up or down seven to ten degrees eight hours per day, you could achieve a 10% annual savings.
3. Install a Smart Thermostat
Programmable thermostats are a popular alternative to traditional ones, allowing you to set one or more temperature schedules. These schedules mean you don’t have to remember to adjust your settings manually every time you leave, come home, or go to bed.
A smart thermostat is another great option. It’s similar to a programmable thermostat, except you can control it using an app on your smartphone. You don’t even have to be home to do so. If you have a smart home assistant like Alexa or Google Home, you can also use a voice command to adjust your settings.
4. Change Air Filters Regularly
Air going into your HVAC system travels through a filter, removing dust, pollen, pet dander, and other airborne particles. Over time, that debris accumulates on the filter’s fibers, forcing your system to work harder to pull air through it. Your HVAC may also wear out and require replacement sooner than you expected.
The general recommendation is to replace your air filter once every three months. However, you may need to do so more often if you have allergies or pets. Consider setting a reminder to check your filter once a month and replace it as required.
5. Service Your HVAC System
Even with regular filter changes, components of your HVAC can wear out. The tiniest issues can negatively impact your system’s efficiency. What’s more, those issues can gradually worsen, leading to higher energy bills and the need for more expensive repairs.
With average home maintenance costs between approximately $1,400 and $2,300 a year, every little bit helps. Preventative care—like regular HVAC inspections and servicing—can help reduce your home maintenance and annual energy costs.
6. Upgrade Your Appliances
If your home has large older appliances like a fridge, dishwasher, and washer/dryer, you can improve your home’s energy efficiency by upgrading to newer, Energy Star-certified models. While they may cost more upfront, their strict standards help ensure you’ll see the most savings. Depending on the appliance, how you use it, and your actual energy costs, they can pay for themselves in just a few years.
7. Clean Major Appliances Regularly
Dirt and pet hair accumulate on the coils of your refrigerator. Lint builds up in your dryer vent. The filter in your washer can become clogged. All these issues and more can reduce the efficiency of the most energy-efficient appliances, leading to higher energy bills. Keep them running at their best—and save money—by inspecting and cleaning them at least twice a year.
8. Reduce Your Water Temperature
Any time you use hot water, you’re using electricity. Reduce your energy consumption by washing clothes in cold water whenever possible and turning down the temperature of your showers. You could also turn down the temperature of your water heater. Most come set at 140°F. Lowering the setting to 120°F can lead to energy savings of 6% to 10% a year.
9. Unplug Unnecessary Devices
Even when you aren’t using them, plugged-in appliances draw small amounts of electricity (phantom energy). While it might not seem like a big deal, leaving numerous devices plugged in 24/7 can quickly add up. Plus, you’re technically paying for electricity you’re not using.
Unplugging unnecessary appliances is a quick, simple, and affordable (free!) way to improve your home’s energy efficiency and cut your monthly costs. You could also invest in smart power strips, which detect when devices go into standby mode and cut electricity flow to reduce phantom energy.
10. Insulate Your Home Properly
A well-insulated home keeps warm or cool air in, reducing your HVAC’s workload. Worn insulation, gaps around doors and windows, and even older style windows allow perfectly heated or cooled air to escape. In turn, your HVAC will cycle on more often to maintain a consistent temperature.
Simple tasks like checking or installing weatherstripping around your doors, caulking your windows, and hanging drapes can improve your home’s insulation. You may also need to have a professional inspect the insulation in your walls to ensure it’s still good.
11. Flush Your Water Heater
Your water heater uses electricity to heat the hot water you use to do laundry, wash dishes, shower, and more. Tank-style models can accumulate sediment at the bottom, making it harder for the system to heat water effectively. Flushing the tank regularly and cleaning it out ensures efficient operation.
12. And Lastly, Turn Off the Lights
Lighting accounts for approximately 15% of your home’s total power consumption. Every time you leave a room, turn off the lights. Over time, the savings from this small action can add up.
You could also replace your current light switches with motion sensor alternatives. If these switches detect no movement after a set amount of time, they turn the lights off automatically.
Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency and Save Money With UpKeep’s Comprehensive Home Maintenance Service
A more energy-efficient home draws less electricity to power your lights, major appliances, and other electronic devices you rely on daily. That, in turn, helps you save money on your monthly energy bills.
Even small actions, like regular home maintenance, have an impact. Routine tasks like changing air filters, servicing your HVAC, cleaning large appliances, and flushing your water heater keep your home running optimally. They can also help you save money on home maintenance costs.
Are you ready to improve your home’s energy efficiency and reduce your annual home maintenance costs? We’re here to help. The HomeKeep app provides regular, easy-to-follow home plans, tutorials, and reminders that can help you more cost-effectively maintain and manage your home. And for those in the Madison, WI area, our Essentials Bundle includes two in-home checkups annually and ten home maintenance services, all for just $399. This includes heating and air conditioning maintenance and appliance and dryer vent cleaning. Visit us online today to learn more!