How to save even more money on your electric bill

By glblguy


Due to the warmer weather, we’ve gone 100% without either AC or heat for more than a month! I received our first resulting electric bill a week or so ago. I was excited to see how low it was going to be. While it was significantly lower than our winter bills, about 45% lower. The bill was still higher than I anticipated.

I’ve been assuming all winter long that the primary consumer of electrical power in the house was the heat pump and underlying electric based back-up coils. While certainly a large portion, it would seem¬† there might be some additional opportunities to reduce costs as well. Here’s the run-down of other consumers and in the order I think they are “guilty”:

  • Hot water heater
  • Washer/Dryer
  • Dish Washer
  • Window/Box fans at night
  • My Saltwater Aquarium (filters, lights and pumps)
  • Lights
  • Electric Oven
  • Refrigerator
  • Miscellaneous electronic devices left on (computers, DVR, etc.)

To determine the cost of each, I found a neat site called: How much electricity does my stuff use? The site has a calculator where you can select the offending electric device and determine how much it’s costing you. I put the breakdown of how my devices break out below. Now, just a point of clarification: remember, I have a big family: 6 kids. As a result, we wash dishes daily, do 2 loads of laundry per day, and there are 8 showers per day (4 in the AM, 4 in the PM). My costs are skewed much higher than the average family of 4.

Device Estimated monthly cost Comments
Hot water heater $84.00 I assumed it was running about 8 hours/day to keep the water warm.
Washer/Dryer $40.00 .65 cents per load, 2 loads, 31 days
Dish Washer $22.00 Used 2 hours per day
Window/Box fans at night $12.50 5 fans all night. We like white noise.
Saltwater Aquarium $25.00 This was just a guess, and I erred a little high
Lights $7.00 Another guess, but we don’t really use lights much as we have lots of windows in our home.
Electric Oven $8.80 Estimated 1 hour/per day for 20 days per month. We usually cook on our gas grill.
Refrigerator $12.60 We have two refrigerators and a freezer.
Misc Devices $25.00 Computers, coffee makers, alarm clocks, DVR, and other plugged in devices
Total $236.90

I was really surprised, this estimate was not far off from our actual bill at all. Our bill was $220.00. I also didn’t predict correctly how much various devices were using. For example, I thought the window fans would use way more electricity than were. I also assumed the refrigerators would use more as well.

How to reduce our electric bill

So armed with the data on what my various devices are costing me, I can now take some additional steps to begin lowering our costs even further. Here are just a few of the items I’m going to pursue:

  • Install a hot water heater timer. I’m going to do this today. I’ll turn the heater off around 7:00pm and turn it back on at 5:00am in time to get the water warmed up for morning showers at 6:00am.
  • To reduce washer/dryer costs, we’ll begin using only cold water.¬† We do this fairly often anyway, but will begin to do this even for the extra dirty white loads (we have 5 boys…need I say more?)
  • For my saltwater aquarium, I’m reducing the amount of lighting per day. I doubt this will make a huge difference, but we’ll see. Maybe it will cut down on my algae growth as well.
  • For the miscellaneous devices, I’ll make sure things are unplugged when not in use, I’ll shut down our kids computers at night, and make sure I leave mine and my wife’s on standby. Again, we generally do this, but we’ll make a stronger effort.

If you haven’t checked out and analyzed your electrical use lately, I highly recommend grabbing your bill and visiting the How much electricity does my stuff use? site. I found it very insightful. I’m determined to continue to reduce my bill. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

Did I miss anything? What other tips do you have to help me (and others) reduce our expenses? Add a comment and let me know what you think!

Photo by: redjar

19 Responses (including trackbacks) to “How to save even more money on your electric bill”

  1. Nicki at Domestic Cents Says:

    I didn’t know I could get a timer for my hot water heater. Thanks for the tip! :)

  2. DDFD at Says:

    Great post! Sounds like a really good resource.

    Before I remarried, I lived in my bachelor appartment for five years. I was always looking for electrical savings (electric heat) and I made lots of changes to save electricity.

    I succeeded– my electric usuage went down each correspending month in each of the five years. However, the savings never really followed– the rates magically went up to the point that my bill never really changed!

    Lesson learned: Watch your rates! Your conservation is sometimes punished or unrewarded.

  3. Luke Says:

    Thanks for the link to the water heater timer! My parents have one built in to the water heater, but I never knew they made external ones. Be sure to post a follow up about how difficult it was to install. I’ll likely be purchasing one of my own before too long. Thanks!

  4. MyJourney Says:

    I bought this surge protector where anything plugged into it will be cut off so it can’t use phantom power. So when I shut off my TV, this surge protector will cut off my Wii, surround sound & BluRay from using any phantom power.

    Check it out!

  5. Dave Says:

    Probably the best thing you could do would be to get a kill-a-watt meter. It plugs into the wall, and then you plug things into it. It tells you exactly how much electricity it uses, and even prices it for you over the course of a month. It about $20 at amazon, but should more than pay for itself in a year if you use it’s data to lower your consumption.

  6. Shabadeux Says:

    I use surge protectors on all my electronics. When I turn the computer off, I turn off the switch on the surge protector (the surge protector is still protecting my computer). Between that and energy saving bulbs my electric bill is really cheap for my apartment.

    My gas bill, on the other hand… I have a gas water heater, furnace, dryer, and stove. It’s not too bad in the “off season” but the stove, furnace, and water heater have always-lit pilot lights. So I’m burning my money. But I’m getting a new place soon and I think I will have more fortune there.

  7. dramon Says:

    I have replace a few of my lights with LED lights, which generate no heat. Since I am in the southwest,this is a big difference.

    Surprised this isn’t listed in the web site as an alternative ( except for led night lights).

    My experience as well is the rates tend to increase each so, so if I remain the same I am good.

  8. South_Texas Says:

    When we purchase our next house we plan on installing “on demand” hot water.

    You can also save money by setting the water heater to a lower temperature.

    Hereafter, I vow to only purchase energy-saver appliances.

    We don’t have AC, but have planted trees near the house.

    They say a full freezer uses less electricity than a half-empty one.

    A power strip is a good idea if you don’t mind resetting the clocks every time.

  9. Stacey Says:

    that’s for the great and informative post! it’s something my husband and i are concentrating even more on lately since it looks like the cost of electricity is going up. do you know of a similar website for natural gas? we need to work on that area as well.

  10. Kim Says:

    Our major saver is the hot water tank. We actually turn it off most of the time. I turn it on every other day for several hours to run the dishwasher, and take showers. DH takes a shower everyday but the water stays hot in there for up to 2 days, so even on an off day he has a hot shower. This saved us $45 the first month we tried it!
    We also turn off the main power (minus the fridge) when we go on vacations. After I mentioned this to the house insurance co, they suggested turning off the main water and never running the dryer while out of the house to get a $30 discount on the annual policy. See if you can get a discount by following your insurances safety suggestions too. :)

  11. PointSpecial Says:

    Here’s a suggestion for the box fan and one that I think I need to utilize with our window unit AC and a fan we use in the summer… Use a timer (like one that would be used to automatically turn on/off a light while you’re out of town). Figure out what time you’re asleep and set it for a half hour afterwards. Then you’ll be able to fall asleep and you won’t waste that electricity.

  12. FamilyMan Says:

    Install a clothesline. We have similar family size (8 kids), and I built a total of 96 feet of clotheslines (3 lines, 32 feet long). I’ve noticed a big drop in our consumption, but won’t see the $$$ results until the resetting of my “bill averaging” amount.

  13. Money Saver Says:

    That’s interesting about the hot water heat timer. I never knew that it cost that much.

  14. Charles Says:

    I second the recommendation to get a Kill-a-Watt meter. With it you can tell exactly how much energy any 120 Volt device is using in your home. I had a lot of fun measuring all the devices in our home, my wife on the other hand wasn’t as thrilled about the device. She probably didn’t like the fact that I kept turning off here Christmas tree (was using 480 watts) during Christmas.

    Some other things you might try:

    Add an insulating blanket to your hot water heater. It will keep the water hot during the times the timer is off.

    Possibly turn down your water heater – the hotter the water the more energy it loses through its insulation.

    Turn off the Heated dry setting on your dishwasher.

  15. shane Says:

    The GOES energy management system is a green device proven to cut your electric bill by up to 57%. GOES will also pay you to refer friends and family to the product. Great savings, very easy to make money if you choose to.