Bills, bills, bills! It seems like there is never a shortage of them. I have come to accept that they are a part of life, and there is nothing I can do to eliminate them.
But, there are plenty of things that we can do to help reduce them, and if you are like me, you are constantly seeking ways to reduce the ever increasing electric bill. I have discovered 27 DIYs to help reduce those electric bills that seem to have the most effect.
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27 DIYs to Reduce Electric Bills – Windows & Doors:
Insulate Beneath Window Casings:
Drafts that come in around windows can often be attributed to the lack of insulation beneath the casings.
An unknown fact is that this area is almost always not filled with insulation by builders. You can see how my window lacked insulation between the window and the frame in the image above.
Correcting this issue can go a very long way at helping a room to stay warm in the winter. Which, in return will reduce your electric bill. You can see how to fix this problem in my article on insulating windows.
Insulate Beneath Door Casings:
Likewise, the same can be said for the area around a door. It too is often an ignored area. The casing can be removed and insulation added following the same steps listed in the instructions for the windows.
A lot of people assume that the thing to do for door drafts is to add weather stripping. While that is definitely something that needs to be done, it is not the first step in correcting drafty doors.
The first step (after insulating beneath the door casing) is to make sure that your doors are properly aligned. If you are seeing light or feeling a draft around your door, take a good look at it. Does the gap around the perimeter of the door (between the door edge and the frame) appear to be even?
The gap should be even all the way around, and no more than 1/8″ of an inch wide. If it is not, you need to align the door to get the optimum results. You can see how to do that in my instructions here.
Once the windows and doors have been insulated beneath the casing and the doors are all aligned, the next step would be to add weather stripping where needed.
If you are one of those people who have tried adding weather stripping to your windows and you still have not seen an improvement in your rooms temperature, it is very likely that the previous steps have not been done.
Weather stripping alone will not solve all of the problems with an improperly insulated/aligned windows and doors.
Block Drafts With Door Guards:
If you have windows and doors with large gaps at the bottom because they are just old, and you are not really a DIY sort of person, adding a draft guard is a good cheap fix.
You can buy them or you can make one from fabric and pipe insulation, like this one from Sassy Bags and Rags. An even better and permanent solution would be to add or replace your door sweep.
Use Draperies and Blinds:
A set of drapes can go along way at reducing electric bills. A good strategy is to close heavy drapes to block out cold drafts during the cold and windy days. But, opening drapes and blinds on the sunny side of the house each morning will allow the heat to naturally warm a room.
To get a good set of heavy curtains on a budget, consider making a DIY set from drop clothes. Most of the time, these can be done without the need to do any sewing.
Add Storm Windows:
Using storm windows during the winter can significantly reduce the amount of heat loss. According to the Department of Energy, adding a Low E storm window provided results that where almost identical to replacing the entire window with a new double pane window.
If you are worried about the look of an exterior storm window or if your HOA will not allow them, don’t let that stop you. Storm windows now are available in both exterior and interior versions.
Use Temporary Insulation:
If you have really old windows and are on a tight budget that won’t allow for the luxury of storm windows, there is always the old stand by of temporary insulation.
The most commonly used method is heat shrinking plastic film.* In a pinch, this stuff will seal out the drafts and help to reduce your winter electric bills by reducing the amount of energy required to heat your rooms.
27 DIYs to Reduce Electric Bills – In Wall…
Insulate Outlets /Switches
One of the biggest contributors to cold drafts and heat loss is uninsulated outlet boxes and light switches. Luckily, this is also one of the easiest DIYs that you can do.
Some people like to use foam spray around an outlet box, and this is fine as long as you avoid getting the foam on the inside of the box. An easier method, and one that I have used many times, is to use a prefabricated foam insert.
You just simply remove the cover, stick the foam insert over the opening, and replace the cover. Instant fix in under 2 minutes. You can get this complete variety pack here.*
Around Pipe Holes:
Another area that is an easy DIY is to seal up the opening around plumbing that lead to the outside.
Take a look under your sinks and beneath the cover plate that is against the wall. I bet there is a gap that is letting cold air and even bugs get into your house.
You can quickly plug this leak with a little bit of spray foam, available from any hardware store.
Between Basement and Sill Plate:
If you have a basement or a crawl space, odds are good that you need to check the sill plate. (FYI – the sill plate is the very first piece of lumber that is laid flat onto the concrete or cinder blocks).
The wall frame sits on top of the sill plate and the floor joist for the first floor run across from one side to the other. There should be insulation not only between the floor joists and the wall studs, but also between the small square space where the three of these connect.
There should also be caulking or foam insulation sealing the gap between the sill plate and the concrete.
27 DIYs to Reduce Electric Bills – Garage…
Do you have a connected garage with an entry door that you use to enter and exit your home?
Adding insulation to the garage can help to keep the garage temps from fluctuating as drastically. This, in turn, keeps major shifts in air from flowing into the home everytime someone enters or exits through the door.
Adding insulation to the garage door itself will make a world of difference in the garage temperature.
Garage Seal and Weather Stripping:
Just as you should check and add weather stripping to your exterior doors, you should also check and add it to the garage door.
Basically, if you can see light shining through any gaps around the garage door, air is getting in. Add weather stripping as needed and replace or install new floor seals.
27 DIYs to Reduce Electric Bills -Settings & Controls…
Check the settings on your water heater. If it is set above 120 degrees, you should lower it. Most people do not need water that is hotter than this temperature. So, reducing the demand will also reduce the electric bill.
In addition, you can install insulation (water heater blankets) to your water heater to help maintain the temperature.
If your water heater is in the attic or your garage, adding insulation is especially helpful at lowering bills. Cold attics and garages will cause the temperature levels to drop quicker, which causes the heater to run more often.
Installing an insulation blanket is a relatively easy DIY that can really help in the long run. I use this kit,* which comes with everything you need except for the scissors.
Another way to help lower your electric bill is to change out your old thermostat for a programmable thermostat.
In my house, I have separate HVAC units to control different areas of the house. The main area is on one unit, and the bedrooms are on a separate unit. So, I have them programmed for the bedroom heaters to drop during the day and increase to comfort level at night. I do the reverse for the main part of the house.
If you want a thermostat that you can control from your iPhone, or if you are an Alexa user, this Nest thermostat* is great. It learns your preferred pattern in about a weeks time, so there is no need to make adjustments.
In addition, being able to open the app in your phone comes in handy if you are away from home and you need to make adjustments.
Reduce/Raise Temp by 1-2 Degrees:
I’ll admit that this is one tip that I have never been able to do myself. I have a set temperature that I like to maintain, and I really notice even just one degree in change.
However, if you are one of those people that can comfortable live with you home being 1-2 degrees cooler during the winter, or 1-2 degrees warmer during the summer than your normal comfort level, you can cut a small amount off of your bill by doing so.
27 DIYs to Reduce Electric Bills – Fireplaces…
If you have a traditional fireplace in your home, you should make certain that the damper is closed when it is not in use. Heat rises, and if you leave the damper open, your hard earned heat will rise right up the flue.
Shut Down Gas:
If you have a gas fireplace in your home, you can shut down the pilot light during the warmer months.
It may not seem like much, but the pilot light burning constantly, day and night, for months at a time can add up. So, shut it down until the cold season hits, and you plan to be using it regularly.
27 DIYs to Reduce Electric Bills – Lighting…
Turn it Off:
I know you heard your own parents say it, but it is true. You should turn off all lights that you do not need to have running.
Try to make it a habit of turning off lights when you leave a room. I do this so often that I do not even think about it anymore, and I frequently turn the bathroom lights off while my hubby is in the shower. (oops…) 🙂
Use a Timer:
If you need to leave a light on while you are away, or so that the kids can see when they get home, try using a timer.
Instead of having the lights burn for several hours waiting on someone to get home, have a lamp plugged into a timer that is set to come on closer to the time that it is needed.
Switch to Energy Efficient Bulbs:
I know that you have heard this one touted over and over again in the media, but changing to energy efficient bulbs really does help. Maybe not quite as much as one would like, but hey, each little thing adds up. This is just one more tool you can use.
I personally prefer the LED bulbs over those spiral fluorescents. LEDs last longer and they don’t make that buzzing/flicking noise when the bulb starts to die.
Speaking of lights, solar powered lights are the cheapest of all. If you have anyplace where you might be able to use a solar powered light verses an electrical, why not do so.
27 DIYs to Reduce Electric Bills – Appliances…
Wash Laundry in the Evening:
If you have been a frequent visitor on this site, you have probably noticed my love hate relationship with my washing machine. I have fought and won the battle of both the horrid mildew stench and the extreme lack of water that one is required to use to remove stuck on dirt.
But did you know that running your machine in the evening can help with the electric bill? Since nighttime is typically not the peak time for appliances to run the charge for electricity is often lower.
This is something that I had not really considered until the town that I live in had a fire at our local substation. As a result, the residents in ort town were asked to do our laundry in the evenings. Apparently, this uses less electricity, or so they told us. Who knew???
Run Dishwasher on Full Loads:
Wait until your dishwasher is completely full before running it. I sometimes can skip a day before I have a full load. Eliminating a few loads here and there can add up to savings.
To make sure that your machine is running at its most efficient, do a regular cleaning on the interior. Those filter can accumulate a lot of gunk, which in turn results in additional effort and energy to get things clean. You can find detailed instructions for dishwasher maintenance here.
Unplug Unnecessary Appliances:
While we are on the subject of machines, unplugging appliances that are not in use will contribute even more to your savings.
Even though your toaster isn’t running, that plug is still pulling just a bit of power. Same thing goes for your phone and tablet charges.
27 DIYs to Reduce Electric Bills – Maintenance…
Clean Return Vents:
Keeping your HVAC units in tip top shape makes them run more efficiently, and an efficient system saves you money. So, make sure that you keep those return vents cleaned.
I included several other maintenance items in my Ultimate Fall Cleaning Checklist, which can help with keeping things running efficiently. That might be something that you want to check out, as well.
Change HVAC Filters:
In addition to the return vents, those filters need to be replaced at least twice per year. Filters that are allowed to become too dirty will make it harder for the unit to function.
Imagine trying to breath through a thick blanket. It requires more effort than free flowing air. Your HVAC unit behaves in the same way. Except forcing your HVAC unit to pull harder will also take a toll on your electric.
While you may not be able to implement all 27 of these DIYs, try doing just a few now. Then, add in a few more later. It will make a difference.
If you can think of any other tips to help get the old electric bill down, I am all ears. In the mean time, any other thoughts, suggestions, or opinions on this post are welcome.
This post has been shared with Remodelaholic.