How To Save Money On Your Electric Bill

It seems that over time electric bills will grow if you don’t pay attention to them.  We buy more devices, we slowly stop turning off lights and appliances when we leave the house and before we know it we are paying over a hundred bucks a month for electricity.  Over the past two years I have slowly made changes to my house to reduce our total electric bill and now I am using some pretty cool tools to save even more money on our electric bill.

How I Have Saved Money On My Electric Bill So Far:

1. LED Light bulbs:

Starting in the Fall of 2013 I began replacing all of the lighting in my house with LED light bulbs. From time to time local stores had amazing deals, subsidized by the utility company in our area.  When I started replacing LED bulbs I picked up most of them for under a dollar when the normal retail price was around $10 each.  Now the normal retail price for LED bulbs has fallen even more to around $5 per bulb, but local utilities still subsidize their purchase in some areas.  Currently I can pick up 60W LED bulbs for under $2 at Wal-Mart.

Even though I was already using mostly CFL bulbs, switching over to LED bulbs has saved me around $20 per month on my electric bill, and will continue to do so for several years.

2. Energy Efficient Appliances:

This year I had to replace my dishwasher and my fridge.  Although I would have preferred to have been able to keep them running it wasn’t an option.  The dishwasher was about 15 years old and the fridge was 8 years old.  The new models I purchased are more energy efficient than the older models, and that is extremely important for an item like a fridge which is always plugged in. We also replaced our 1979 boiler a couple years ago with a new 96% AFUE condensing boiler.

How Much Money Can I Save On My Electric Bill?

Currently my electric bill is around $70 per month.  The last two months my total electrical use was 585 kWh, and 618 kWh for 28 days each.  This averages to 21.5 KWHs per day.  I’m sure there are other things that could be done to reduce our power consumption, so today I decided to perform an energy audit on some of my items that I leave on all the time to see how many kilowatts I can kill!

How Much Money I Can Save On Electricity With An Energy Audit:

Last year I purchased a plug in power meter for $15 on Amazon which will show me the total electrical draw of any device that plugs into the wall.  I had originally purchased it to see how much electricity different items used that I wanted to power off of my generator.  This plug in power meter will work great for finding vampire electricity use throughout my house.

Desktop computer: 65.8 Watts ; 2.4 Watts in sleep mode

Computer Monitor: 18 Watts, .3 Watts standby

Comcast Box: 28 Watts (standby); 40 Watts on

42″ Plasma TV: 166 Watts

Playstation 4: 68 Watts; .2 Watts standby

LED night light strands: 2.4 Watts each (3 sets)

Ryobi 18V charger: 33.6 Watts max, .7 Watt standby

Dehumidifier: Unknown. I have a portable dehu that I bought on Amazon last summer to help in the garage with how humid it gets.  There are times I have this thing running non-stop for weeks.  It is preset to not turn on if the humidity is under a certain amount (like it is right now) so I can’t use my meter on it.  The UL tag states that it has a max of 520 watt output.  Wow! If I run this for 24 hours that’s over 12 kWh in one day!

All in all the standby, or vampire drain isn’t actually that bad.  By far the worst drain is the comcast box at 28 watts on standby, this equates to 672 watts per day and 20 kWh per month.  I was actually surprised at how low the vampire drain was on chargers and on my computer.

Changes in Daily Habits To Save Money On Your Electric Bill:

1.  The big spot where we fail at this is turning off lights.  Replacing everything with LEDs helped a lot, but we rarely go through the house and turn off the lights when we leave and we keep the garage and utility room lights on all the time.  I can’t plug the kill a watt meter into the lights, but I know what drain they take.  With each light using 9.5 watts per hour.  By leaving 5 lights on 24/7 instead of about 3 hours per day we use an extra 1 KW every day.  We also probably leave around 20 lights on for 6 hours more than they should be per day, which also works out to 1 KW per day.  Saving 56 kilowatt hours in a billing cycle.  This is 10% of our total electric bill!

2.  Turning Off my computer when I go to work and go to sleep: It actually would help a lot just to change the sleep setting on my computer.  Currently my computer goes to sleep after 2 hours of inactivity.  I just changed this to 15 minutes, which should save a ton of energy.  I typically use my computer several times per day, but usually in short sessions.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this could save me over 6 hours of on time per day, which would save 380 watts per day.

3. Comcast Box Usage: Our Comcast box is on 24/7. We record several shows, but for the most part it is extremely rare for anything to record between the time we go to bed and the time we wake up.  If we shut off the box from 11PM to 7AM we could save 33% of our energy use on this device.

4. LED light strands: We first put these up for our 7 year old about 3 years ago, and they haven’t been turned off.  These were Christmas lights we bought on a 90% off sale.  The two youngest boys share a room and have two of these strands up as well.  I figured it had to be at least 10 watts per strand, but with it being only 2.4 watts, I don’t think the hassle of unplugging/re-plugging them every day is worth it.  At best I would save 86 watts per day.

5. Watch the Dehu: This summer I will only run the dehu when it is absolutely necessary.  I had no idea those things used up anywhere near that much electricity!

In total if I implemented all of these plans I think we could save another 2.5 – 3 KwH per day. This doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up to over $100 over the course of a year, and these are relatively easy things to do.

Other Options To Save Money on Your Electric Bill:

Time of Day Metering: Most utilities offer a time of day / off peak electrical billing plan.  Customers who choose this plan will pay substantially less for electricity when using during off peak times, which are usually nights and weekends. They typically have to pay a bit more for usage during peak times.  My utility, Indiana Michigan Power charges 6.76 cents per kWh normally.  With off peak billing customers pay 1.76 cents per kWh during off peak times, but must pay 12.26 cents for electricity used during on peak times.

Invest in Solar Panels: Depending on where you live and the cost of electricity in your area, a grid tied solar system may be an excellent option to save money on your electric bill.  The cost of equipment for solar has dropped substantially and with more firms offering solar panel installation prices for install are competitive as well.  Some companies like Solar City will even finance the solar panels for you with no upfront cost.

What initiatives have you taken to lower your electric bill?  

John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John is the author of the book For My Children's Children: A Practical Guide For Building Generational Wealth.

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