By Jeremy Pearl
Tracking home electricity bills over the course of a year is usually predictable.
The cost per kilowatt-hour continues to creep up, and it hits the home budget especially hard during the summer months. When the weather finally cools off, you look forward to lower electric bills.
That pattern is changing, though, and it’s not good news for homeowners.
The factors driving this historic shift are centered around our current reliance on natural gas for electricity production.
The results are an expected surge in winter heating bills and even higher costs per kWh when temperatures warm up.
Here at Sandbar Solar & Electric, we’re committed to helping you control your energy costs. Our solar panel installations allow thousands of residents along the Central Coast to dial down their reliance on the grid and lower their electric bills.
We’re always happy to share our expertise, so we’ve developed this list of smart ways to reduce electricity consumption at home.
Let’s dive in.
Winter or summer, inside air lost to the outside makes your home’s HVAC system work harder.
Find air leaks around an exterior door by placing a dollar bill against the side jamb and closing the door on it.
If the dollar bill slips out, it’s time to replace the door’s weatherstripping.
This tip works best on cold or breezy days. Draw up a simple floor plan of each room and mark window locations. Keep it handy as you pass an open palm around window frames.
Make note of problems on your drawing so that you’ll know which windows need insulating.
Seal air leaks around door and window frames with rubber foam weatherstripping. Adhesive foam or vinyl V-strip works best on metal and vinyl windows.
This quick handyperson job can significantly cut the electric bill year-round.
Crawl spaces need to be well-insulated. This is especially true if the area under the house isn’t ventilated.
Otherwise, interior air cooled by the AC or warmed by the furnace escapes downward through floors. It’s a good example of how unseen problems increase energy costs.
Attic leaks are easy to miss. Addressing them and replacing attic insulation can turn into a weekend project, but it pays off with lower electric bills all year.
These are just a few examples of areas in the attic that leak cooled or heated air.
Hot weather outside drives attic temperatures up to and over 150 degree Fahrenheit.
An attic ceiling fan pulls in cooler air through soffit vents, and that prevents the accumulation of hot, humid air over living spaces below.
Cooler attic temperatures keep AC equipment running more efficiently.
These overhead fixtures save energy by keeping the house cooler when the weather warms up. As they circulate air through a room, ceiling fans dispel humidity and lower body temperature.
You can turn the AC up several degrees, stay comfortable and hold down electricity bills.
Heat and cold sneak in your home through the garage. Protect your space by replacing bottom weather seals on garage doors. This type of heavy-duty weatherstripping buffers temperature extremes, reduces moisture in the garage and discourages pests and insects.
Think about putting an alert on your calendar that reminds you when it’s time to change register vent filters. These openings pull air into the HVAC system summer and winter. Clean filters trap debris that compromises efficient HVAC operation.
That results in lower energy costs.
Keep the house comfortable and electric bills down with programmable thermostats. Most models are designed for easy DIY installation and long-term energy savings.
You enjoy indoor comfort that fits your schedule with precision temperature control that doesn’t overwork the AC or furnace
Mini-split air conditioners work best in small homes and apartments. They’re also a smart energy-saving choice for new additions to existing properties.
The systems are more expensive than central air conditioning, but they can save more than 30% of the energy lost through ducts in traditional systems.
Keep heating and cooling equipment in top shape with regular service visits from certified HVAC professionals.
Their skills make sure all components are in top shape, and that makes sure you save on the electric bill, summer and winter.
It’s a small investment that can head off the expense of big repairs.
Keeping the fridge full doesn’t displace enough air to reduce the unit’s energy consumption.
Increase your refrigerator’s efficiency and hold down electric costs with these easy tips.
Most dishwashers feature a switch that controls the drying cycle. When you leave the switch in the off position, it shuts everything down after the final rinse. Simply open the door, let dishes air-dry and enjoy saving electricity.
Lowering the temperature on a water heater lowers energy costs and reduces the chance of an accidental scalding.
The ideal setting is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Check online instructions for safely adjusting your water heater thermostat.
You want hot water on demand, but why pay for heating it 24/7? A water heater timer is a smart device that helps lower your electric bill by scheduling daily usage around your routine.
Let a plumbing professional handle the installation.
Trade the convenience of small laundry loads for the electricity-saving routine of full loads only.
The strategy can cut washing machine and dryer energy consumption by half. Apply this smart idea to the dishwasher too.
When you need to sanitize a load of laundry, you use hot water. However, most dirty fabrics come out fresh and clean with a cold-water wash.
This tip reduces water heater energy consumption, and it’s easier on most fabrics.
Whether it’s gas or electric, the clothes dryer adds to monthly energy expenses.
Keeping its filter and vents clean is a simple routine that helps lower the electric bill. You enjoy shorter drying time and longer appliance life.
A clothesline in the backyard moves a routine chore outside on sunny days. It also takes the load off energy used by your dryer.
Laundry dried on the line smells extra fresh, and the technique minimizes wrinkling.
Most hardware stores carry electricity usage monitors that calculate the energy consumption of different devices. You can monitor electricity used by home office equipment and small appliances that run on 120 volts.
Safety Note: Never pair an electricity usage monitor with anything that runs on 220 volts.
When it’s time to replace a washing machine or refrigerator, take a look at recommendations from Energy Star.
The government-sponsored site lists appliances that earn energy-efficient certification by holding down electricity costs and reducing your impact on the environment.
Compact fluorescent bulbs deserve their reputation as energy savers, but they aren’t as efficient as light-emitting diode bulbs.
When a CFL bulb in your home finally stops working, save electricity by replacing it with an LED bulb.
Smart lights and switches give you programmable remote control throughout the house. The combination turns lights off and on according to schedule.
Smart lighting reduces energy consumption, and it’s highly customizable.
Scaling back energy usage doesn’t always involve high-tech solutions. These are a few examples of simple lighting ideas that have a positive impact on the home budget.
All the tips included in our guide help lower electric bills. Installing solar panels on your home elevates energy savings to an even higher level. This upgrade in controlling electricity costs is more affordable today than ever before.
Over the course of several years, the net savings from a solar power system are substantial. Factor in capturing a 26% federal investment tax credit, and it adds up to even lower energy costs. You can also save on a solar battery backup that helps decrease grid dependence.
When you think about the best ways to lower electric bills, solar power belongs at the top of your list.
We hope our guide serves as inspiration for reducing electricity bills at your home. Our teams work with property owners just like you all across the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast. From Fremont to Carmel Valley, we’ve completed more than 2,500 residential solar panel installations.
We’re here for you with home solar systems that hold down electricity costs, increase property value and reduce your carbon footprint. Whether you’re still weighing the options or you’ve decided to switch to solar, our no-obligation consultations are always free.
Let Sandbar Solar & Electric put more than 18 years of proven experience at your service. Contact us today.
Jeremy has worked in the solar industry since 2006. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from UC Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies. Jeremy has spent most of his solar career in residential sales and Sales Management in both California and Hawaii. He was raised in Santa Cruz County and is passionate about helping local residents make the switch to clean and reliable renewable energy. Jeremy lives on the Westside with his wife and two boys and enjoys music, photography and hiking in his personal time.
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