Yes, pun intended. When it comes to saving on electricity, tackling the big things first makes more sense than worrying about all the small things. Here, I’ve detailed some of the strategies given by my power company and this website, which I consider to be the best sources for energy-saving tips.
The Big Things
Heating and air conditioning: Use them only when you need them, and keep them at the highest (summer) or lowest (winter) temperatures that you can stand. In addition to air conditioning, we use ceiling fans during the day and turn the AC off at night to use box fans in the windows. (Our desert climate’s cool nighttime temperatures make this possible.) In the winter, we bundle up a little more (sweaters, socks, slippers) before turning up the heat. When we leave for a trip, we keep the AC completely off and turn the heat down to 60 so the pipes don’t freeze.
Lighting: We switched all of our bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs. They cost about 1/4 as much as incandescent to use, and they last a lot longer. The kids are already getting lectures on keeping lights turned off when we aren’t using them.
Washer and dryer: If I’ve washed a large load of clothes, I spin them twice to make sure all the extra water gets out. This cuts down on drying time and saves energy. I dry things for the minimum amount of time that they need and hang up a few pairs of jeans to let them finish drying if they’re the only thing still damp. (More laundry tips here.)
Water heater: I’m not good at this one, but taking shorter showers obviously helps. (It may be a little hypocritical, but I do set a timer for the kids’ showers.) I rarely wash things in hot water because it can’t sanitize them anyway. I combine children’s baths as much as possible and only bathe them 1-2 times a week, depending on the season.
Refrigerator: The biggest thing here is making sure kids keep the door shut. We are blessed to have a fridge with the water in the door, so the kids don’t have to open the door to get a drink. Fridges older than 2001 are less efficient, but I’m not big on replacing appliances unless they actually break. Vacuuming out the coils on the back of the fridge helps it run more efficiently, too.
Always on: According to my power company, certain devices use energy by just being plugged in. These include computers, monitors, printers, and TVs. The best thing would be to unplug them when not in use, but since that can be annoying, turning them off or having them go to sleep are good options.
Cooking: Biggest users of energy include the oven, stove, and toaster. I’d also add air fryer and Instant Pot to this list. Since my stove and oven are gas, they don’t actually figure into my electric bill. Still, I do all my baking for the day at once. I try to use the coolest part of the day and have the oven on only as long as I need it. Though it doesn’t use electricity, it makes a difference in our heating/cooling needs.
If you want to know how much a certain appliance costs you, use this formula.
(watts X hours used) / 1,000. This will give you kWh, which you multiply by your state’s charge per kWh to find the cost of operating the appliance. (In Utah, we get charged 8.6 cents per kWh. You can find this info online from your power company.)
Saving on electricity is like many other things. Small changes in your habits add up to big savings over time.
(Looking for more information? Check out this website. It’s got all kinds of information and calculators for specific appliances.)