Is your electric bill too high? Here are ways to save money on your electric bills

Is your electric bill too high? Here are ways to save money on your electric bills

Electricity bills are constantly fluctuating, whether due to seasonal changes, annual weather patterns, or current rates in your area. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the current average cost for electricity in the U.S. in January 2019 (the most current rate available) was 12.47 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). The average home in the U.S. uses 897 kWh per month, making the average energy bill around $112.

Of course, this doesn’t begin to take into account other factors, like how cold it got, how big your home is, your house’s efficiency, etc.

Are electricity bills going up or down in 2019?

Unfortunately, they are going up. EIA figures show that average residential electricity prices in the U.S. increased by 1.8% between January 2018 and January 2019. And in their latest analysis, the EIA says the upward trend is set to continue: electricity prices this summer are forecast to be 2% higher than last summer.

However, it’s important to recognize that it will be subjective to where you live, climate impacts on your area, and what your local electric rates are doing.

That said, most people are simply looking for ways to reduce the total cost of their electricity bills, and in 2019, there are many ways to do that, both little and big.

Make sure you’re on the lowest rate plan

Are you on the cheapest electricity rate plan offered by your utility? Many households aren’t, and they are needlessly paying extra every month.

Luckily there is a very easy fix for this – just enter your utility and your most recently electricity bill into the CutMyBill calculator. It will instantly tell you if there are cheaper rate plans available, and how much you would save per month by switching.

CutMyBill’s analysis of 5,000 users found the average household would save $17.80 per month simply by switching rate plans. That’s $213.60 a year. And all you have to do once you get your results is call your utility and ask them to switch plans.

Consider this the low-hanging fruit of power savings.

What uses the most energy in your home and drives up your energy bill?

The short answer is your heating and cooling system. A lot also depends on the efficiency of your system and your home. Both can drive bills even higher if they aren’t working optimally.

But many people assume that simply getting a new, energy-efficient system installed is enough. Unfortunately, there are several other factors that can complicate the matter.

An example: You have a top-of-the-line Energy Star-rated HVAC system. However, you live in a place with extreme weather; summers are hot, and winters are freezing. Your super-efficient system is compromised by missing flashing on your doors, can lighting without insulation, and the biggest offender, an uninsulated attic. Your house’s inefficiency is making your HVAC work overtime, thus driving your bills higher.

The truth is, it’s always a combination of things that lead to higher energy bills, which is why it’s helpful to attack inefficiency from all angles. Look at it as a process of steps that will help you reduce your electric bill in 2019.

Arm yourself with information: How a home energy audit helps

Consider yourself lucky if you live in a state that offers free home energy audits. Before we delve into what an energy audit is, let’s talk about how to find out if you’re area offers free ones. Start on your city or local electric company website. Let’s use Puget Sound Energy (PSE) in Washington as an example. They have a page on their website dedicated to signing up for a home energy assessment – and the service is free if you qualify.

If you don’t have the service available through your energy company, consider paying a local expert to do the assessment, or research how to do a home energy audit yourself.

The home energy audit helps you find out where exactly you’re losing money. Some of the biggest culprits are:

  • Old appliances
  • Outdated heating and cooling systems
  • Poor insulation
  • Air leaks or drafts
  • Inefficient windows
  • Lighting

The positive is many of these issues are affordable to address, which will have an immediate impact on lowering your electricity bill. If you take it one step further, you can even cut your bill in half, which we’ll get to in a few paragraphs.

What are some creative ways to reduce your heating and cooling costs?

The internet is a handy place to find tips and tricks for reducing your energy usage, which in turn reduces your heating/cooling costs. Some creative ways to do so is:

  • Invest in a Smart thermostat like Nest or Ecobee. You’ll have a lot more control over your heating and cooling system, and will even be able to operate it when you’re not home.
  • Use window coverings to keep warmth in or out. Energy.gov has a guide to using energy efficient window attachments.
  • During hot days, use appliances at night. Appliances can increase the heat in your space, so in the summer, so using them during the day will just add to already high temperatures. You can even bypass the dryer completely by air drying your clothes.

Is it possible to cut your energy bill in half?

Yes, it is possible to cut your energy bill in half. However, this is where you’ll need to invest more upfront for a payoff that will take some time. Some of the things you can do include:

  • Fix insulation – Anywhere your home lacks good insulation, work with a contractor to assess and upgrade. Attics, crawl spaces, basements, and even walls can all be spots that need to be upgraded.
  • Weatherize – This is where you’ll address windows, ventilation/vents, weather stripping, and more.
  • Update appliances and electronics – Look for the Energy Star label or a sticker that tells you how much a TV/washer/dryer/refrigerator/etc. costs to run per year. Look for products that have excellent efficiency.
  • Replace lighting – Change out to LED bulbs, insulated can lights, and more efficient fixtures.

Change your habits – it’s free

One other thing you can do is change simple daily habits like washing small loads of dishes by hand, or turning off lights in rooms you’re not in. Wash clothes in cold water, and turn down your water heater. Put on more clothes and blankets and turn down the thermostat. Every small change you make helps reduce your energy bill.

Is going solar a good option to lower your electric bills in 2019?

If you can go solar, then it’s the optimal option that can more than cut your energy bill in half.

Solar panels have gone up in efficiency and down in price. Incentives and rebates are readily available, and financing a solar installation is more doable than ever before.

Using our handy calculator; you can find out how many panels you need, how long your payback period (or ROI) is, and more.

Not only that, but you have more solar installation options to choose from depending on your situation. For those with limited roof space or poor exposure, there are ground-mounted solar panels. Solar shingles are appealing to homeowners worried about aesthetics. Community solar is great if you are in a condo or lack both roof and property space.

So yes. Going solar is an excellent option in 2019.


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