How To Save Energy For Lower Bills And A Greener Home

Mitchell Fisher By Mitchell Fisher Updated 20 Mar 2022
Save energy

We've put together some practical tips on how to save electric energy day-to-day without significantly disrupting your way of life.

Why Save Energy?

There are plenty of reasons why people want to learn how to save energy. Some people want to cut down on energy usage because they don’t want to pay absurdly high power bills each month. Many people also do it because of the environmental impact that excessive energy use has.

While you may not be ready to go fully off-grid, you still shouldn’t underestimate the immense effect that small changes to your lifestyle and habits can have on your overall energy usage.

Regardless of your own personal reasons, we’re pretty confident that our tips can help you be a bit more self-sufficient and make your bills more manageable.

Insulate Your Home

Let’s start off with a big one: insulation. Not having proper insulation in your home can cause you to bleed money both in the winter and the summer months alike.

In the summer, your air conditioning will need to work twice as hard to cool down your home. In the winter, you’ll burn through a lot more wood or fuel to protect against the cold that’s just seeping through the uninsulated walls and windows. The point is, thin walls lose you money needlessly.

There are only two reasons why people don’t insulate their homes: the cost and the renovation time. The cost can’t really be helped with, and while you might be able to find a cheaper service where you live, you’ll still need to plan on spending anywhere between $1,500 and $5,000 on insulating your home. 

The insulation will be priced differently depending on where it’s placed; wall insulation comes between $3,000 and $5,000, whereas insulating the ceiling will set you back $1,500 - $2,500. Insulating the floor will cost you between $2,500 and $3,500. The upfront costs might seem like a lot, but in the long term, you’ll be able to recoup them in the money that you won’t spend on excess heating or air conditioning.

As for the renovations, it’s true that actually covering your walls in insulation will take a few days, and you’ll have a bit of a mess to clean up afterwards, but you don’t actually need to pull out your walls in order to get this done. Insulation can be placed on the outside of your walls and then just painted over.

Insulation inside the walls is a bit more effective, but the outside-layered method is quicker, cheaper, and it still makes a significant difference in temperature retention.

Change Your Temperature Settings

This sort of directly connects to the point that we just covered, but cranking your heater or your AC unit to its utmost limits forces it to use a lot more power or fuel.

We’re not saying that you should turn it off outright. If you wanted to sit in three layers of sweaters in the winter or melt into your couch in the summer, then you wouldn’t have gotten these units in the first place.

Simply put, at times, you can remember to adjust your thermostat to settings that might be a few degrees north or south of what you find ideal. This way, all you really need to do in order to be comfortable is maybe put on an extra pair of socks or make a slight adjustment to your wardrobe when it’s hot outside (who doesn’t like sitting on the couch with a drink in nothing but underwear?).

We’re all different so there’s no one standard setting that would be ideal for everyone, but in general, you should get the most optimal power usage and feel most comfortable if you keep the temp gauge between 21 and 23 in the summer and around 17 in the winter. Those temperature points are a manageable middle-of-the-road solution, saving you energy and still keeping you comfortable.

Unplug Appliances & Shut Off Lights

Without a doubt, the biggest power drain in any household are the appliances that you use. Every device—from the microwave to the vacuum cleaner—needs a supply of energy in order to work properly, and they usually account for at least 20% of the overall power usage in a home. Add to that lighting, heating, and refrigeration, and that number balloons to 48%.

While you can’t simply unplug the fridge, you could keep in mind to turn off the lights when you’re not in the room. Here’s a detailed guide on when and how to do that in order to save the most energy.

Another measure you can take is to simply unplug everything but the most essential appliances that you can’t live without. Think small kitchen appliances (coffee makers, microwaves, food processors), chargers, TV, stereo, computers, etc. Phantom power draw or standby power is a real thing, and your devices will draw energy even when turned off. 

Honestly, this is such an easy energy-saving method that you lose nothing by implementing it in your everyday life.

Change Your Lights

Aside from remembering to turn off your lights before you go to sleep or leave the house, the best way that you can reduce power usage is to simply get some energy-efficient light bulbs.

LED bulbs are generally considered to be the best option in this regard, and they’re also around the same price as standard bulbs if not a bit cheaper. So, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t make the switch as soon as possible.

The difference between the longevity of a standard iridescent bulb and an LED bulb is so massive that a lot of sources claim the LED lights last 25 times longer while also managing to use 75% less power.

You can also install dimmer switches in your home in order to manually adjust the light. Getting a few reading lamps is also a good idea. You could use them once in a while instead of having all of your ceiling lights on constantly, saving energy in the process.

Energy Star Ratings

While a lot of people may have come across the term “Energy Star Rating” while looking through appliance catalogues, a lot of the time they don’t really know what it means. As you might have guessed from the name, this rating system evaluates the power consumption of a specific appliance and normally gives it anything between a one and a six as a rating.

Generally speaking, anything over three is a good rating, but you’ll ideally want to find an appliance that has at least a five to make sure that it’s as economical as possible for its size.

Speaking of sizes, appliances are categorised based on their general size and power output. It’s not uncommon to see small devices with pretty low ratings, and larger devices that have a five or a six. By categorising the appliances based on their size and output, the rating system essentially makes it easier for you to decide on the appliance you want to get.

However, keep in mind that something like a small AC unit with a three-star rating will still usually use up a lot less power than a full-sized unit with a six-star rating. The difference in size is always going to be a major factor, so it’s important to also discern what you really need. If you can’t go without a big AC for your home, for instance, then consulting the Energy Star rating is a good way to make sure that you find the one that’s the most energy-efficient.

Replace Your Refrigerator Door Seals

The door seals are the part of a refrigerator that gets overlooked the most often. People talk about cleaning the coil and making sure that there isn’t too much dust buildup underneath, but nobody really mentions the rubber gaskets on the door that actually make sure cold air stays inside the fridge.

Most of us open the fridge more than a dozen times a day, and that number roughly doubles if you’re bored and have nothing to do. The rubber gaskets are designed to be able to vacuum seal the door every time you close the refrigerator, but with time, the suction will get weaker.

You might get a tear somewhere in the rubber gasket on the side, or it might just be too old and worn out to properly shut anymore. The point is, if the door can’t close properly, then the inside of the fridge can’t reach the proper temperature, so it’s just a useless drain on your electricity at that point.

Luckily, rubber gaskets are incredibly easy to detach since they come right off if you just pull them. Afterwards, all that’s left to do is push in the new gasket that you bought, and the fridge should be able to close properly and work less to maintain a cold temperature.

You should be able to find custom gaskets for your specific refrigerator model pretty easily. If you can’t, then it’s just a matter of buying a few lengths of standard rubber gaskets, cutting them, and gluing them together on the door itself.

Prioritise Certain Rooms

If you live in a two-story house, then there’s a good chance that you don’t use all of your rooms. If you have a large family, then the majority of your time is probably spent in your living room, while your kids stay in their rooms. This likely means that you don’t even go into your own bedroom until it’s time for bed.

We’d suggest cutting off any heating or cooling units that you have in the rooms that you don’t use since they’re just a massive drain on your energy for no good reason whatsoever. Remember to turn on the heating or the cooling unit around half an hour before you go to bed, and you’ll be comfortable enough to sleep without using electricity needlessly.

If you live in a house with roommates, and all of you have your own bedrooms, then you’ll certainly want to have the AC or heater turned on in all of them. However, you don’t need to heat or cool the storage room, for instance.

Also, get into the habit of turning your heating or cooling unit off when you go out. It might not be as pleasant when you come back home, but the temperature should stabilise in a short while, saving you a lot of electricity usage in the long run.

Get Solar Panels

A lot of people are dismissive about solar panels because they cost a lot of money to buy and install, and they’re usually not big enough to power the entirety of their house. While the price tag might be a bit high, the fact that a single solar panel can’t provide enough to power a standard-sized two-story house doesn’t mean that they’re useless.

Installing a solar panel array on your roof can actually help to reduce your electricity costs quite a bit, but in the first few months you won’t be able to notice this difference in the bills due to the purchase and installation costs of the solar panels themselves. However, after a certain time, you’ll find quite a significant decrease in the size of the bills that you pay each month.

If you just want to try out solar with a lower upfront commitment, then you can just get a small unit for your roof. This won’t be able to gather enough electricity to power your appliances for long, but it can at least keep the lights on at night, which is still a big help in the long run.

Before You Go

When you're thinking about saving energy, it's a good time to review some of the major appliances in your household that are using a significant amount of energy. Our buying guides for dishwashers, fridges, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and air conditioners are a great place to start researching your options.