How to Reduce Electricity Usage at Home: Seven Ways to Save
As the cost of living continues to rise, many homeowners in Atlanta and the surrounding area want to know how to reduce their electric bills. Luckily, there are several ways you can reduce the amount of electricity you use at home.
Here are a few actionable steps you can take to reduce your home’s electricity usage:
Where to Start When Looking to Reduce Electricity Use
Before trying to reduce personal energy consumption, look at your current electric use. This can be found on your most recent electric bill. Take notes and establish a baseline to help you understand areas you may be able to cut back.
On average, US households use about 1,000 kWh per month. If your energy use is higher, it’s likely there are a few key areas where you could cut back. Consider these energy-reducing strategies to save where you can.
7 Steps to Reduce Personal Energy Consumption
1. Invest in Energy Star-rated Appliances
Major appliances like the fridge, stove, freezer, washing machine, dishwasher, and whole-home dehumidifier make up a major portion of your electricity use each month. But older appliances use far more power than newer, more efficient models. The most efficient units of all earn an Energy Star rating.
The Energy Star program is run by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy. Appliances with this rating can use anywhere from 10% to 50% less energy than similar, non-rated models. If you replace appliances that are more than a few years old, you’ll save even more.
Replace one or all of your appliances with the most efficient ones on the market at the time, and your electricity bill should lower noticeably.
2. Reduce Energy Use During Peak Hours
Season- and time-based electricity rates impact electric bills across the country. Many utility companies in the US, such as Georgia Power, offer programs that encourage consumers to use electricity during off-peak hours and to turn things off during peak consumption periods. You're rewarded with rebates and reduced rates when you choose to shift your electricity use to off-peak hours.
For example, Georgia Power runs its program on summer weekdays from 2 pm to 7 pm, June through September. Customers save money by turning down their air conditioners, running major appliances in the morning or evening, and leaving lights off during these hours.
One of the best ways to take advantage of off-peak rates is to buy appliances with delay timers. Simply set them to run later in the day to save money. These programs may also appeal to you if you own an electric plug-in vehicle that needs a daily charge from your at-home EV charging station.
3. Install a Smart Thermostat.
Smart thermostats allow you to program your home’s HVAC system to optimize its energy use. They also provide information about how and when you use energy so that you can notice and break bad habits.
4. Turn Off Your Computer, Don’t Put It to Sleep.
Did you know that computers are some of the most consistent energy-suckers in your home? High-powered gaming PCs use the most, but a standard desktop computer pulls 12.2 kWh a month when used for 8 hours a day. Laptops and tablets use the least energy. Turning them off versus putting them to sleep helps reduce the energy they use and gives your electronics a break.
When you’re done using electronics for the day, power down and turn off your screens completely.
5. Replace Your Old Light Bulbs with LEDs.
If you’re looking for a simple way to reduce energy costs at home, add “replacing your light bulbs with LED bulbs” to your list. LEDs use about 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs and about 30% less than CFLs. LEDs also last many years longer than the alternatives.
There are now options for LEDs with soft light or yellow-white light, so they’re not as bright as the old-school LEDs and still provide the savings and safety (no mercury) you’re looking for.
6. Reduce Idle Electronics, AKA “Vampire Load.”
In the US, the total amount of electricity used by idle electronics annually is equivalent to the average output of 12 power plants. Printers/scanners, televisions, and device chargers can continue pulling small amounts of electricity even while not powered on or charging anything. If the plug feels warm to the touch when it’s not in use, it’s still drawing power.
Use power strips to combat this sneaky energy draw. Flipping off the power strip has the same effect as unplugging the device and can prevent them from continuing to draw energy during their downtime.
7. Remember to turn off the lights when not in use.
This is a simple but powerful step you can take to reduce your energy use. Remember to switch off the lights if no one’s in the room. If leaving a lamp on is a die-hard habit, consider investing in a light switch timer so your lights will switch off on their own, even if you forget.
Which Appliances Use the Most Electricity?
These appliances are the most significant energy users in most homes, even when using the gas-powered versions of certain units:
Large window air conditioners
Consumer electronics: laptops, TVs, and gaming consoles
Frequently Asked Questions About Reducing Energy Consumption
Q: Does the TV use a lot of electricity?
A: TVs can use a lot of electricity, but it depends on how frequently they’re used and what kind of TV it is. Larger, brighter, and higher-definition TVs use more electricity than their smaller counterparts. It even costs you more energy to consistently watch high-definition video over standard definition.
On average, most households watch about four hours of television a day. If you have an HDTV bigger than 40 inches and consume about four hours of television a day, you’re paying about $45 for electricity annually.
Q: Which is more efficient: gas or electric heat?
A: Air-source heat pumps are the most efficient option, heating your home at up to 400% efficiency in temperatures 40 degrees or higher and at 100% efficiency in temps below freezing. Air-source heat pumps also now come with substantial federal rebates and tax incentives. Electric furnaces run around 100% efficiency, while gas, oil, and propane heaters trail at 80% to 97%. And since heat pumps can also cool, they do double-duty in Atlanta’s hot summers.
Q: Are energy-efficient appliances tax deductible?
A: Federal tax credits are available for those who upgrade to energy-efficient appliances and, in some cases, point-of-purchase rebates. Check out the general guidelines for 2023 federal income tax credits to learn if your purchase qualifies. Some utility companies also offer rebates for buying Energy Star-rated appliances. Georgia Power offers a rebate to recycle old refrigerators, among other energy-saving incentives.
Q: Does leaving the lights on cost a lot of money?
A: Compared to running a major appliance like your refrigerator 24 hours a day, no. But if you leave a standard 60-watt bulb running and use the US average for electricity (about 11 cents/kWh), you’ll save about 16 cents for every 24 hours that the light isn’t on. It may not seem like much, but every light in your home adds up. Leaving one lamp on 24/7 for a year would cost around $60. You can do the calculations yourself using your home light usage.
Q: Do solar panels reduce electricity bills?
A: Yes! Atlanta gets over 1,500 hours of usable sunlight per year. And since every square foot of roof space can generate 15 watts of solar energy, you can scale your number of solar panels with the amount of energy you want to generate. There are 30% federal tax credits available to Atlanta-area homeowners for installing solar panels. Solar panels also work best in areas that receive lots of direct sunlight, like Atlanta, though they also still function on cloudy days.
Not only do solar panels reduce your electricity bill, but they also protect the environment by reducing the demand for electricity from the grid.
The Bottom Line on Decreasing Electricity Use
By taking advantage of these strategies, you can save money on your monthly electric bills and increase the efficiency of your home’s energy usage at the same time! Mix and match the options that work for you and start saving.
Get expert help with new, energy-efficient installations from the experts at Mister Sparky of Atlanta. Call us at (770) 824-9592 or book an appointment online to start saving.