Avoid an Eye-Popping Electric Bill for Holiday Lights with These Tips
You can reduce your electric bill by monitoring your meter, swapping out light bulbs, cleaning appliances and more.
Use Energy Star Products
According to energystar.gov, folks saved upwards of $30 million on their utility bills and helped to reduce greenhouse gases by using Energy Star-rated products. These super-efficient products include CFL and LED light bulbs, household appliances, building materials such as windows and doors and HVAC equipment among many others. Not only is switching to Energy Star products one of the best frugal living tips, but it also allows you take advantage of their energy savings and may qualify you for the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit.
Switch to CFL Bulbs
CFL bulbs will provide 10,000 hours of light and use $10.40 of electricity (at 8 cents per kilowatt hour). To get the same output with incandescents, you would have to use seven bulbs, which would cost less up front, but the electricity would cost $48. Check out our guide to CFLs so you know what you’re getting into.
Add Smarter Switches to Lights
Install smarter switches and save up to $100 a year. Motion sensors are the perfect solution for left-on lights. They turn off automatically so you don’t waste electricity. Motion sensors are great for home security but do you know the secrets a home security installer won’t tell you?
Plug in Electronics into a Power Strip
Electronics guzzle lots of power even when they’re turned off. Stop wasting electricity: Plug them into a power strip, then turn off the strip.
Seventy-five percent of the electrical use by home electronics occurs when they’re turned off, according to the Department of Energy. These “energy vampires” suck electricity all day long—costing you an extra $100 each year. So if you’d like to keep that Ben Franklin in your wallet, unplug your electronics or plug them into a power strip, then turn off the strip.
Try Smart Metering
Smart metering programs vary among utility companies, but the basic idea is the same: The utility installs a special “smart” meter that tracks how much electricity you’re using. The utility uses that data to make sure its power grid doesn’t get overloaded and cause blackouts. If the grid nears capacity, the utility can shut off major appliances in homes for short periods of time (such as 15 minutes per hour). Not all companies offer smart metering, but some do and many others are considering it.
What’s in it for you? Money! Some programs pay for signing up. Others let you view your home’s usage online in real time so you can better manage your electrical consumption. Others let you choose “real-time” or “time-of-use” pricing that allows you to pay less for electricity that’s used during off-peak hours (for example, on weekdays from early afternoon until 8 p.m.). These plans reward you for using electricity when it’s cheapest. Smart metering makes the most sense if you’re away from home all day—you won’t notice or care if things get turned off (although it’s a good idea for everyone else too!). According to SRP, a power utility company, the plans cut 7 percent off your bill, which is $140 for the average $2,000 yearly energy bill. Check with your local company to find out what smart metering programs are available in your area. Make sure you’re protecting your electronics properly with these tips.
Clean Refrigerator Coils
Refrigerator condenser coils are located on the back of the fridge or across the bottom. When coils are clogged with dust, pet hair and cobwebs, they can’t efficiently release heat. The result is your compressor works harder and longer than it was designed to, using more energy and shortening the life of your fridge. Clean the coils with a coil-cleaning brush and vacuum. A coil-cleaning brush, which is bendable to fit in tight areas, does a thorough job. Look for one online or at appliance stores. For tips on repairing your refrigerator (without a service call), check out our guide and how to clean each home in the house faster.
Use LED Lights for Holiday Decorating
Plug-in meters monitor single-item consumption when the appliance is on and off. Use it to sniff out the items that make up the biggest part of your bill. Get planning for holiday decorating with these 29 ideas for every room.
A meter reader displays real-time usage and records consumption info so that you can watch your watts over a longer time frame. If you really want to save money on your energy use, check out these expert energy saving tips from the pros.
Easy outside light control
The Cost Factor
Testing Holiday Lights
Fiber Optic Displays
Fiber optic displays can typically only use one bulb and it’s an LED bulb, which means a reduction on energy.
Use a Timer
You likely don’t want to have to go out to plug and unplug your holiday lights every day so pick up a timer that will do the work for you. Plus, you can limit the hours your lights remain on.
Turn the Lights Off
It probably should already be a habit but keep the lights off in a room you’re not in. Plus, if you’ve got holiday lights up in a room, go ahead and keep the lights in that room off or dimmed since the holiday lights will give off some illumination. Try this clever tip to keep your holiday lights in order when it comes time to pack them up.
A simple way to save on electricity is to unplug and try using tea light candles around the home. They’re fairly inexpensive and provide ample opportunity for creative decorating.
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