Of course you can save money on electricity by going solar. But increasingly people are realising that you don’t always need to spend money to be green. In fact, what better way to be green than by consuming less? And even if you are looking to install solar panels on your roof soon, the less electricity you use, the more green power you can feed back into the grid (and the more money you can save – or make!). So whether you plan to install solar power or not, why not begin by reducing your energy use right now?
If you haven’t already done so, begin with the low hanging fruit:
Easy ways to save money on electricity
- Change your light bulbs. Converting from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents (CFLs) throughout your house can make a big difference to your energy use, both in terms of your electricity bill and the energy tied up in resources – since CFLs also need to be replaced far less often. CFLs use about 20% the energy of incandescents.
Quality LED lights are even more energy efficient than CFLs (and last longer), but at the moment they are not as low-cost. However, consider using LEDs in select areas.If you are in the habit of leaving a hallway or bathroom light on in the night for your children, an LED nightlight might be a good alternative and will save you a lot of electricity over a year.
- Outdoor lights: use outdoor lights with movement sensors instead of leaving a front door light on all the time; if you are installing garden lights, consider solar LED lights.
- Turn off your lights – when you are not in a room, turn off the light.
- Turn off your appliances at power points. Appliances like your TV, stereo and even your kettle can draw a significant amount of electricity even on standby. This includes unplugging phone and battery chargers, which keep drawing energy even when they aren’t charging anything.
- Turn off your computer monitor when not in use. Leaving the screen saver on actually uses quite a lot of power, especially if you still have a VGA monitor [edited in 2018 to laugh – does anyone even remember what they were??]. Even if it automatically goes into standby mode, turning your monitor off altogether is better.
- Draft-proof your house. Use draft stoppers on doors, block off your fireplace and cooling vents when not in use, seal cracks around windows.
- Wash your clothes in cold water. Particularly if you have an old standard hot water heater (as opposed to solar or instant hot water), your hot water heater could account for up to 1/3 of your electricity bill.
- Line dry your clothes whenever possible. In cold weather when you might think they won’t dry before dark, try using the dryer only for a partial dry and then hang them out. Alternatively, use a clothes rack, which you can bring inside before dark.
- If you need to use a clothes dryer, use some 100% wool dryer balls in it (3 for a small to medium load, 5-6 for a large load). These can reduce your drying time (and therefore power use) by 25%, as well as softening your clothes and leaving them less wrinkled. So you can also save money on dryer sheets and fabric softener – you won’t need them anymore! (Add a few drops of essential oil to one of the dryer balls if you want that “fresh” smell in your laundry. I use Eucalyptus oil for my towels.)
- When it’s cold, close your windows and curtains as soon as the sun goes down, to keep the warmth in your house. When it’s hot, close curtains as soon as the sun hits a window, particularly on West facing windows.
- If you have central heating or cooling, turn your thermostat down one degree in the winter and up one degree in the summer. Educate your children!
- Often it is children who leave lights and appliances switched on. Get them involved in your project to save money on your electric bill. Talk about the current bill and how much you aim to save, maybe you can plan a fun family activity as a reward for savings. (Here are some other ideas for getting your kids involved)
This list gives you a good place to start reducing both your gas and electricity bills. And once you have the basics down, there are many other ways to save electricity, and for every kilowatt you save you are reducing your carbon footprint and becoming more sustainable. So what should you do next to reduce your gas and electricity bills even further?