Having a family is an expensive business. Paying for the various necessities of your children and yourselves as parents can sometimes require a little budgeting in order to stay on top of everything. One of these necessities that is essential in all modern life is gas and electricity, and it comes at a pretty hefty price. Finding ways to keep your bills down can sometimes be tough, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many tried and tested ways of keeping your energy bills down to a minimum and you’ve come to the right place to find out what these are. So, how can you reduce your family’s energy bills without drastically changing your lifestyle? Let’s find out.
1. Buy energy efficient appliances
More often than we would like, it comes the time to buy new appliances for our home when they have decided they no longer want to work. When making this search, it is important to look out for a few things if you want to make sure your new appliance won’t use unnecessary amounts of electricity. Since the beginning of the millennium, choosing your new appliances has become increasingly easy using the Energy Star efficiency rating system. It is estimated that a fridge with an Energy Star 20%+ rated uses on average 500 kWh of electricity per year as opposed to the 1100 kWh used by a non-rated fridge made between 1990-1992. Over the pond, however, in the UK, where since July 2012, all fridges, freezers and fridge freezers have had to adhere to strict efficiency regulations, the average fridge only uses 151 kWh per year. Although we’re not quite at this level, just by changing some of your white goods appliances, you could save hundreds of dollars per year with no effort.
2. Switch your light bulbs
According to the US Department of Energy, roughly 14% of the average electricity bill is made up of lighting costs. However, this statistic could be easily changed were more people to switch to more energy efficient light bulbs. A 12W LED used as a replacement for a 60W traditional incandescent light bulb will consume between 75 – 80% less electricity, which is around a $3.80 yearly saving per year per light bulb. Let’s say that you have around 45 light bulbs in your house; that’s a $171 saving each year just for changing your light bulbs. Many countries worldwide have committed to a national switchover to LED and CFL lighting, but get ahead of the game and the savings will start much earlier.
3. Unplug appliances that aren’t in use
The US Department of Energy stated that anywhere between 5-10% of the average american electricity bill is made up of those appliances that are plugged in 24 hours a day, most of which are plugged in unnecessarily. Much to the surprise of many, devices such as games consoles can still use tens of dollars per year during the time that they are switched off. Here is a list provided by AOL that details some of the most expensive devices to keep plugged in even when they are switched off:
- Desktop computers
- Laptop computers
- DVD players and VCRs
- Cable TV boxes
- Cordless phones
- Stereos and radios
- Coffee makers
- iPods and electronic gadgets
Just by unplugging items that are not going to be in use for a considerable amount of time could save you a noticeable amount of money off your next electricity bill.
4. Hang your clothes out to dry
Most American households are more than accustomed to always drying their laundry in a drying machine, which is one of the many reasons why average US energy consumption is one of the highest in the world. When you have a quite sizeable family, especially when your children are always going out to play, you tend to use the washing machine pretty frequently. When your only method of drying your clothes is in a dryer, your electricity bill will add up to a pretty hefty sum. Given that you have a 5600-watt dryer with a 40 minute running time, each load would cost you around 34 cents if you paid around 12 cents per kWh. This would add up to the following:
34¢ per load x 7 loads per week = $2.38 per week
$2.38 x 4.35 weeks = $10.35 per month
$10.35 x 12 months = $124.20 per year
Here we can see that if you were to air dry your clothes on a washing line or drying rack, you would save yourself $124.20 off your energy bill every year. Not only is this great for the environment and your pocket, but can be a great chore for your children which also teaches them about the importance of being eco-friendly.
5. Switch your energy provider
This one really depends on where you live: in varying degrees choice of energy provider has arrived in 32 states up already, which could entail just electricity, just gas or both. Switching your energy provider means that you can choose which company provides your natural gas and electricity, therefore choosing the cheapest tariff on the market to power your home. Before deregulation, and in some states presently, the incumbent energy company had complete control over the energy markets, dictating price and everything regarding your supply. As such, across the country, this energy supplier generally owns the entire transmission and distribution networks which transport your natural gas and electricity to your home. Therefore, regardless of if you switch or not, you will still pay the same distribution and maintenance charges your paid before. What you can change, is the unit rate. This is the amount you pay per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity.
Switching your energy tariff has never been easier: you can do this by calling up your desired energy provider or do it all online. The most popular and effective way to do this online, is by using a price comparison engine that compares all available tariffs in your area and displays them in an easy to understand format, enabling you to choose the cheapest. This model was built from European companies such as Selectra, that have been active for over 10 years.
Here is a list of the states in which you can switch in:
Natural gas only
Electricity and natural gas
District of Columbia (DC)