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Utility costs, especially the electric bill, tend to make up a significant part of household budgets. In fact, the average electric bill for U.S. residential customers in 2022 was $137 per month (or about $1,600 a year), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Try these effective ways to lower your bill.
Do an energy audit.
Give your thermostat a nudge.
Adjust your fridge and freezer temperature.
Take shorter showers.
Replace your showerhead.
Wash clothes in warm or cold water.
Adjust the temperature on your water heater.
Purchase energy-efficient appliances.
Ask about discounted rates.
Switch to LED lighting.
Install dimmer switches.
Use smart power strips.
Keep reading for data and details on how to keep your electric bill down. For more information on these tips and others, see the Energy Department's Office of Energy Saver.
Heating and cooling
Home heating and cooling are some of the biggest culprits behind hefty utility bills — and the best places to look for cost-cutting opportunities.
Do an energy audit
If you can, start with a visit from the pros. Utility providers will often conduct a home energy audit, sometimes for free, and can identify ways to reduce your energy usage. An audit can help you figure out if faulty seals on windows and doors or leaky ductwork, among other things, are draining energy from your home. You’ll also get recommendations for repairs and efficient fixtures. Check with your local power company for details on how to schedule an audit.
Give your thermostat a nudge
This one is easy. To save money, set your thermostat down or up 7 to 10 degrees (depending on the season) when you’re asleep or away from home. Doing so for eight hours can lower your annual heating and cooling costs by around 10%. A programmable thermostat does the work for you.
Adjust your fridge and freezer temperature
Set your fridge to 37 degrees and your freezer to 0 degrees. This will keep your food fresh, but your fridge and freezer won’t need to work as hard to maintain the temperature.
Hot water is the second-largest expense in powering most homes, according to the Energy Department. Cutting back on your hot water usage — in the shower, laundry and dishwasher — can make a sizable dent in your overall energy bill.
Take shorter showers
Standard showerheads go through 2.5 gallons of water a minute, according to manufacturer Waterpik. That means trimming just two minutes off your shower time could save 5 gallons of water. Taking a shorter shower will reduce the energy used to heat the water too.
Replace your showerhead
An efficient showerhead — that uses no more than 2 gallons per minute — can reduce household water usage by 2,700 gallons per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Look for one with the WaterSense label, which is certified to meet efficiency criteria set by the EPA.
Wash clothes in warm or cold water
Stick to warm or cold water when you do laundry to lower your electric bill. Doing so can also help prevent clothes from shrinking, fading and wrinkling, according to GE Appliances. That’s a win-win.
Adjust the temperature on your water heater
The default temperature setting on some water heaters is 140 degrees. Lowering it to 120 degrees can reduce your energy costs by 4%-22% annually.
Purchase energy-efficient appliances
If you’re in the market for a new washer, dishwasher or water heater, buy an energy-efficient model to yield long-term savings. A dishwasher with the EPA’s Energy Star label uses 12% less energy and 30% less water on average than a regular model. Prioritize appliances that run most often, like the fridge, dishwasher, TV, washer and dryer.
Ask about discounted rates
Some utility providers offer cheaper rates during parts of the day when general usage is down— think early in the day or late at night. You could spend less on electricity by doing laundry and other energy-intensive chores at off-peak times. If this appeals to you, ask your power company about a time-of-use rate plan.
» MORE: What is a utility bill?
Power and lighting
Keeping the lights on accounts for roughly 15% or more of a home’s energy usage.
Switch to LED lighting
Save around $225 per year by swapping out incandescent bulbs and old light fixtures with LEDs. Doing so will certainly help you cut costs, but the switch to LEDs is inevitable. Energy Department efficiency rules that recently went into effect will take most incandescent bulbs off the market. Look for lighting products that bear the Energy Star label.
Install dimmer switches
Dimmers let you set the brightness in a room to suit your needs, setting the mood and saving electricity.
Use smart power strips
Some electronic gadgets — such as TVs, computers and speakers — never truly power off. Instead, they sit in standby mode using a trickle of power that can account for 5%-10% of home energy use and $100 a year. Plug these electronics into a smart power strip, which cuts off the current when the devices aren’t in use. A power strip with a manual on/off switch is another good option.
Try a few of these tips to start, and monitor your electric bill for savings in the months ahead. Work up to more changes to compound what you save in energy and money.