Homeowners are often concerned about gas energy savings, but what about a high electric bill? Like your gas bill, your electric costs can rise in the winter. But just as with your gas bill, there are steps you can take to keep your electric bill down.Unless you have an electric furnace or water heater, most of your electrical consumption in the winter months is likely to be home appliances. These include refrigerators, freezers, stove/oven, dishwasher, washer/dryer, lighting, and entertainment systems. Here are a few tips for conserving energy and cutting that electrical bill.
Refrigerators and Freezers
- Old refrigerators and freezers are big energy gobblers. If yours are more than 20-years-old, it’s time to replace them. Energy efficiency gains in the last 20 years have been huge, so it will pay to upgrade.
- Maintain your appliances regularly. Be sure your condenser coils are clean (some are located below the unit, some in the back - your owner’s manual can guide you). Regularly check the gaskets on the doors, a dollar bill should be hard to slide between the gasket and the door frame.
Cooking and Baking
- Use your oven wisely. Cook larger meals or multiple meals with each use to save on electricity. For smaller items, use a toaster oven or microwave.
- If you cook and bake on really cold days, however, you can supplement your home’s heating and save a little on gas. When you’re done cooking, leave the oven door open for a little extra radiant heat in your kitchen.
- Run your dishwasher, washer, and dryer only when you have a full load. Fully loaded appliances are the most efficient use of energy. Running them for small loads will only increase both your electrical and water bills.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED lights. Not only will they last longer, but the reduction in energy usage is significant.
- ‘Tis the season to decorate both indoors and out. But be aware that you can significantly add to your electrical usage with holiday lighting. Remember to turn off your indoor lighting when you’re not home and consider turning off your outdoor lighting before bedtime for best savings.
- Even though you may have a gas furnace, it has an electric motor that moves the air through the duct system. There are high efficiency ECMs (electronically commutated motors) that use 15 to 25% less power than conventional motors. These motors are an option on new furnaces but there are also retrofit kits that can be installed on an existing furnace as an upgrade. Consult your heating professional for more information.
- Use electric space heaters sparingly. While 100% efficient (no heat is lost up the chimney), they use a lot of energy. And your electrical cost for using them can be as much as two or three times the equivalent usage of gas.
- Even when they’re “off,” most TVs, computers, and stereo systems continue to use electricity while plugged in. You can save by unplugging them when not in use.