As a homeowner for 20+ years, Chris has performed tons of home repairs and DIY projects - and dropped tons of F-bombs in the process.
The Electric Bill
According to recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average American household uses about 867 kilowatt hours of electricity every month, or about 29 kWh per day.
Your usage and costs may vary depending on what part of the country you live in and how many people you have in your home.
But for many families in the United States, paying the electric bill every month can be a real challenge. So if you're looking for an in-depth article packed with easy ways to save money on electricity in your home, keep reading.
This ultimate guide to saving money on your electric bill has tons of energy-saving tips, including:
- free ways to save electricity,
- products that save electricity,
- lighting tips to save electricity,
- how to save electricity in your front or back yard,
- how to save electricity in the summer,
- how to save electricity in the winter, and
- home appliances that save electricity.
How to Lower Your Electric Bill for Free
You can invest in many products to lower your energy costs, but if you’re tight on money and simply want to lower your electric bill without buying anything, then the best way to start is by reducing waste. So let’s start out with some free ways to reduce your utility bill.
1. Shut Off Lights and Electronics When Leaving a Room
I don’t know about you guys, but when I was a kid, my parents burned it into my brain to always turn off the lights there at the light switch when I leave a room—along with the TV or radio—even if I was planning to come right back after a couple of minutes.
That one simple, frugal habit has stuck with me over the years and has probably saved me hundreds of dollars in electricity costs over the course of my lifetime.
2. Use Fewer Lights in the Room You’re In
Another easy little brain hack that can make a difference once it becomes a habit is that of using as few lights as possible to get the job done.
There are times when you might be sitting at the kitchen table, reading a book, or just scrolling away on your phone. You look up and notice that not only is the ceiling light above you on, but the kitchen light is on, and there’s also a lamp in the living room that is on. Add in some additional sunlight from the windows, and it’s likely that you’re using a lot more electricity than you really need.
I think some people just turn on lights in the daytime out of habit. Like, if you turn off the lights and just use available sunlight, is it really too dark to see what you’re doing? Do you honestly need all those lights on? Probably not.
Try experimenting with it yourself for a week or two. When you’re just sitting around the house during sunlight hours reading a book, playing video games, watching TV, or whatever, try shutting off one or two of the lamps around you and see how your eyes adjust to the available light within a few seconds. You might not even need any of those lights on for the task you’re doing and could just make do with sunlight pouring in through the windows.
3. Use More Sunlight to Light Your Home
In the condo we currently live in, we only have a few windows and a glass door—all along the same side of our home. This really sucks because our house is pretty dark all day long and kind of feels like a cave at times. So we have to turn on the lights when using the bathrooms and even when preparing food in the kitchen. There’s just not enough daylight coming into the house.
But that’s us.
Read More From Toughnickel
If your house has plenty of windows in most or all of the rooms, then you’ve got tons of free light available throughout the day. All you need to do is draw back the curtains or open up the blinds and let it in. And if you have a skylight in your ceiling to let light in from above, you might not have to use lamps during the day.
That’s a pretty good deal and can save you a lot of money on your electric bill every month, especially if you spend a lot of time at home during the day like my family does.
Have you ever seen a professional photographer’s lighting setup during an outdoor photo shoot? They use big white poster boards and reflectors to bounce the sunlight onto their subjects, eliminating shadows and lighting them up.
Well, you can basically do the same thing inside your home by using mirrors and white paint or light colors on the walls and ceiling. This will reflect that sunlight and artificial light that is already available inside your home to even out the shadows in your home and give you plenty of available light for everyday tasks.
4. Turn Down the Water Heater
Most homes today have a standard water heater either in the garage or in a storage closet around the outside of the home. The one in our condo is located in a little closet on our back porch.
If you’ve never noticed yours, go take a look. It’s a big, tall tank that holds a few dozen gallons of water. Ours runs on electricity, but some might use natural gas to heat the water.
Anyway, there’s a thermostat on the outside of the tank that controls how hot it makes your water. Most water tanks are already cranked up on the highest setting, but most of us don’t really need our water that hot. So try turning your water heater’s thermostat down a notch or two. Your water will still have plenty of heat to it, but you won’t need to add as much cold water when taking a shower. I’ve never felt the difference since turning mine down, but my bank account probably did!
In some communities, the electric company even has a gadget that they can hook up to your water heater that will automatically turn it down or turn it off during low-use hours.
We opted into this program with our power company when we lived in Hawaii, and we never noticed any difference in the water temperature. But it did shave a few bucks off our energy bill every month.
Check your electric company’s website or just call them up and see if they have any programs like this—or any other energy-saving tips—that can help you cut your electric bill down.
5. Charge Personal Electronics Outside the Home
I’m actually doing this one right now. I’m sitting at a cafe and writing this article, and my tablet is plugged into the wall over here. A few minutes ago, I also had my iPhone plugged in to charge up, but it’s fully charged now, so I unplugged it.
It might not seem like that big of a deal, but our smartphones, tablets and laptops really suck up a lot of energy every day because we use them constantly. You might only save a quarter or fifty cents by charging them when you’re out and about, but if you’re in the habit of doing this every day, the savings can really add up.
If you work at an office—and especially if you often take work home with you—then it’s a no-brainer to make sure your laptop and phone are fully charged before you leave work at the end of the day.
You can also use a car charger when you drive around, but that electricity has to come from somewhere and probably eats up your gas usage as you drive. But charging at home and at cafes and restaurants is easy and free. I mean, if you’re going there anyway, why not take advantage of the free electricity, right?
Here is a short list of local restaurants that have electrical outlets that I use to charge my phone and other devices. I’m sure there are tons of places in your neighborhood where you can do the same. You can also use the outlets at the public library.
- Panera Bread
- Einstein Bros. Bagels & Coffee
- Burger King
- Jack in the Box
- Hospital cafeteria
6. Open Windows Instead of AC
If you have window screens on your windows and live in a good location, you can save a lot of money by opening up your windows to let in a breeze to cool you off, rather than running the air conditioner. Of course, this will also depend on the time of year and the climate.
We currently live in a condo right along a major street with lots of noise and foot traffic, so we don’t put this tip into practice a lot these days. But when we lived in Hawaii—and when I grew up in California—we often had our windows open and mostly just used fans to circulate the air. That’s all we needed during most of the year. Summer, of course, was another beast, but we could get by without the AC quite a bit during the other seasons.
You might not be able to do this year-round, but if you can just keep from using your AC/heater for a few hours a day by opening up your windows, you can save several dollars a month right there.
7. Get Government Assistance Through State and National Welfare Programs
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal welfare program for low-income households to get help paying their electric bills and to perform limited environmental upgrades on their homes to better regulate temperatures and electricity usage.
Requirements vary by state, but if you qualify for food stamps and similar welfare programs in your state, then you might automatically qualify for LIHEAP. But funding is limited on a first-come, first served basis until funds are used up for the year, so get in on that as soon as possible before you lose your chance.
Here in the state of Nevada, there is a similar program for Nevada residents called the Energy Assistance Program (EAP). You can sign up for EAP once per year and receive a credit that is applied to your account with the power company. It might be enough to pay your bill in full for a month or two, or you can pay a portion of your bill each month and let that credit take care of the rest of the bill -- until the full amount of credit is used up.
So if your state has a temporary assistance program like Nevada does, and if you qualify, then you might be able to get help from both your state and the federal programs. That could go a long way to helping you get through a tough financial situation and get back on your feet.
Lighting Hacks to Lower Your Power Bill
8. Use Task Lighting
Task lighting simply refers to using small lights that light up the area where you are working or performing a task, as opposed to lighting up the entire room with multiple lights. The standard desk lamp is the perfect example of task lighting.
If you’re just working on homework, drawing comics, or reading a book at your desk, then why light up the whole room with all that energy? Turn off those big lights and just turn on your desk lamp. Or you might even get a battery-powered, clip-on book light.
For some people, eye strain might become an issue, such as when reading a book at night when the rest of the room is pitch black. In that case, it might be helpful to have a little extra background lighting to make it easy on your eyes. Try experimenting to find that sweet spot between too much light and too little.
9. Replace Old Light Bulbs with LED Bulbs and CFL Bulbs
I remember when compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs first came out, and everybody went bonkers over them. Some folks spent a hundred dollars on these new light bulbs to switch out every light in the house in one shot. It sounded a little extreme to me, especially since these light bulbs were not cheap. But they use so little electricity that it made sense to invest in them, as they would pay for themselves many times over throughout the life of the bulb.
Or that’s how the story was supposed to go.
Instead, a lot of those early designs were so poorly constructed that the bulbs burned out before they could recoup their cost. At least, that’s what happened with us in our house. But eventually, the bulbs’ quality improved, and we had bulbs that would last long enough to actually save us more money than the cost of the CFL bulbs. Today’s CFLs are made better than those early versions, so they are a pretty good investment these days.
But now we have something even better, and people are saving money like crazy.
I’m talking about light-emitting diode (LED) lights. LEDs have been around for a while in personal electronics, but now they’re finally being marketed more for home lighting, and I think that’s a great idea. LED bulbs use less electricity and are safer because they don’t get hot like other types of light bulbs. Also, they aren’t made of glass like other bulbs, so they are less fragile.
10. Use Motion-Sensor Lights Indoors
A lot of homeowners will use motion-sensor security lights outside in their driveway or at other key spots around their homes to discourage intruders.
But did you know that you can hook up your indoor lamps to a motion sensor too? This can be an easy way to cut down on electricity usage at night, particularly for people who are prone to falling asleep with the lights on and for those who often forget to turn the lights off when leaving a room.
The one I’ve used has two pieces: a battery-powered sensor with a timer that can be mounted to the wall or placed in an inconspicuous place such as on a bookshelf or counter. The other piece plugs into the wall and has an outlet that you plug your lamp into.
As long as there is movement in the room, the lamp stays on. Once the movement stops, the timer begins. If no more movement occurs and the timer runs out, then the lights go off.
You can adjust the timer to match your preferences. So if you want the light to go off within three minutes after all motion ceases, you can do that. Or, if you want the light to stay on longer—say 30 minutes or so—then you can set the timer for a longer period.
11. Light Candles at Night and Turn Off the Lights?
Some folks love to use candles to light up their home, so this could work for you too if you’re into that. People used candles and torches to light their homes for hundreds of years before the electric light bulb came along. So I guess if candles were good enough for them, then they’re okay for us to use today too.
But there are some definite drawbacks to using candles.
First of all, they don’t put out a whole lot of light, so you’d need a lot of them if you need functional lighting for doing homework or chores or something like that.
Candles can also get expensive, at least if you’re burning a lot of them at once.
There’s also the issue of the fumes and gases building up in the room. So be sure to open up a door or window to let in fresh air if you’re burning a lot of candles.
Lastly, candles are open flames! Please don’t burn your house down by falling asleep with a ton of candles burning just to save a few bucks on electricity!
I’ve even seen some YouTube videos of people using candles to warm up their home instead of using the heater. I can’t recommend this due to the fire safety issues, but I guess for people in an extreme situation it might be a temporary option.
Other Devices and Products to Help You Use Less Electricity
12. Use Power Strips to Reduce Phantom Loads
A lot of people don’t realize this, but electronic devices and appliances use electricity whenever they are plugged in, even when the power switch is turned off, and the item is not in use. Some of these little vampires can suck up a lot of juice every month.
So your TV, fans, lamps, gaming consoles, computer, and literally everything else in your home is using up a small amount of electricity when not in use. This trickle of wasted energy is known as a phantom load, and it’s probably costing you several dollars per month.
But there’s an easy solution: power strips. When you shut them off, power strips cut off this trickle of energy and prevent the devices plugged into them from drawing power. So plug some of your electronics into a power strip and get in the habit of switching it off when those devices are not in use.
Now, to maximize this tip, you should pay attention to the mix of electrical devices you plug into each power strip. So if you have an alarm clock or lamp that you use all the time, then plug that into a different power strip or straight into the wall outlet. But all the things that only get turned on occasionally should go into their own strip and be turned off when not in use.
Note: power strips that host computers and other expensive, delicate electronics should also have a built-in surge protector to protect the circuits from permanent damage in case of power outages and surges. But other devices like lamps should be fine in a standard power strip.
13. Get a Portable Solar Generator and Mini Solar Panels
You don’t have to go all out with a massive investment in solar panels on your rooftop in order to grab some of that sunlight. Using a portable solar generator will allow you to power your smartphones and some other devices with zero energy drawn from your electric company.
These generators are popular among campers and hikers, but you can use one at home too. All you need is a few square feet in a sunlit area to unfold and lay out your portable solar panels for a few hours per day. It’s a pretty cool way to save money, whether you’re out roughing it or just doing your thing at home every day. I’ve seen some of these going as low as $200, but prices vary by brand, quality, and available features.
14. Circulate Air With Fans and Turn Down the Air Conditioner
This one surprised me as I was researching this article. I remember when I lived in Hawaii, my wife’s grandma’s house always had a number of fans blowing the air around. Like, they had a fan blowing in every room with the windows open too. It wasn’t cold like a home with central air going, but it was noticeably cooler inside the home than outside, especially if you happened to sit in the path of one of those fans.
I always wondered if all those fans were significantly cheaper to run than the air conditioner, but I never bothered to ask or even to google it until now. And I’m glad I did!
It turns out that fans use a significantly smaller amount of electricity to run than your central air conditioner or even one of those wall/window units. Depending on your particular HVAC setup, you could probably run fans in every room and still be using only a fraction of the energy that your main AC unit burns up.
But the thing to remember is that fans don’t actually cool the air. They just move it around, and it’s the draft of air against your skin that makes you feel a little cooler.
During the fall and spring, you could probably shut off the air conditioner completely and just run fans, at least for a portion of the day. But even during the summer, when you clearly do need to have the AC going, you can use a combination of fans and AC to create a comfortable room temperature. That will allow you to turn up the thermostat a couple degrees and reduce your cooling costs without even feeling any warmer.
15. Apply Tinted Film to Windows
I never even knew that installing tinted film on your windows at home was a thing until a few years ago when my wife hired someone to tint our windows at home. It was a great idea, and it wasn’t really very expensive.
The tint works exactly the same way that tinted windows work in your car. They block out some of the light and heat from the sun, and they give you some added privacy while allowing you to see out without any issues.
You can get the standard dark tint or a reflective window film that offers even more privacy from the nosy neighbors during sunlight hours. You can buy them in sheets or rolls and then just cut them down to match the size of your glass window panes.
I’m not a handyman by any stretch of the imagination, but looking back, I bet I could’ve managed it myself just by watching some YouTube videos and DIY articles before installing the film onto the window interiors.
16. Replace Weatherstripping Around Doors and Windows
A lot of homeowners don’t realize that they probably have a lot of cool air leaking out of their homes during the summer and warm air leaking out during the winter. We all know to keep doors and windows shut when running the AC or heater, but did you know that you might still be leaking air even when the doors and windows are shut?
This is more common in older homes where the weatherstripping is wearing out and beginning to crack.
Go check that rubber stripping around your front and back doors and also around your windows. If you see big cracks and gaps, then you’re losing air 24/7. You can easily remove the stripping with a putty knife or scraper, wipe the surface clean and smooth and then apply a new strip of weather stripping yourself. It’s super cheap and easy to do it yourself and can save you some bucks throughout the year.
17. Use Portable Chargers for Smartphones
I mentioned that you should get in the habit of charging your phone and devices whenever you’re out at work or in cafes and places like that. But you can stretch the savings even further by also charging up a portable charger when you do it.
That way, when you are back at home, and your phone battery dies, you can plug it into your portable charger and get a few more hours of use—for free!
I’ve even used a portable power strip designed for traveling when I go out to the library, cafes and fast food joints. It’s very compact and allows me to charge a laptop, smartphone and portable charger all at the same time. I used it all the time on location when I was a photographer and needed to have lots of batteries at the ready for my flash units when shooting live concerts.
18. Install a Programmable Thermostat for Your Central Air Conditioner and Heater
Nowadays, with smart home technology, you can get a programmable thermostat that will run your central heating and cooling for you. It can recognize your usage patterns and make adjustments to fit your daily temperature needs.
So, in the summer, it will turn down the AC while you’re away at work and then crank it back up again to cool the house off in time for your arrival at the end of the day. It will then do the same basic thing with the heater during the winter.
Save Electicity Outside in the Yard
Lighting is one of the biggest contributors to your electric bill (see infographic above). We often think of shutting off the interior lights and switching to more efficient lighting, but sometimes we forget that the outdoor lights can also use up a lot of electricity.
So here are a couple of money-saving outdoor lighting options along with a bonus tip about happy little trees!
19. Install Solar, Motion-Sensor Flood Lights for Security
Security lights with motion sensors are a great option for outdoor security lighting for your front door, back door, driveway and garage. One of the best outdoor solar security lights on the market is made by Litom (Amazon #: B01KYXSATK). With over 10,000 positive reviews at the time of this writing, this bestselling security floodlight has some solid features and benefits:
- Solar powered
- Motion sensor
- Wide lighting area
- Easy to install -- no wiring
- 24 LED lights per unit
- Adds ZERO COST to your electric bill
The one featured here has over 11,000 total reviews and a 4.5 star rating (as of this writing), making it the current bestselling solar light on Amazon. Customers are so happy with it that it has received the “Amazon’s Choice” designation. So I guess that’s saying something.
You can check it out and see if it will fit your needs. They are available in packs of 1, 2, and 4 units to cover multiple areas around your driveway, front door, back door and yard.
20. Use Solar-Powered Garden Lights Along Walkways
Another outdoor lighting option is garden and walkway lights. If the Litom security light above puts out too much light for your purposes, then you might want something a bit more subtle.
Gigalumi has solar garden accent lights that are perfect for lighting up your garden, path or walkway without being too bright.
These are made of stainless steel and have a modern look. The light rests on a spike that you just push into the ground, so it’s very easy to install. And as long as the lights are in the full sun all day long, they can charge up enough to stay lit up for up to eight hours. They come on automatically once the sun sets and run all night.
- Solar powered
- Spot lighting
- Easy to install -- no wiring
- LED light bulb
- Adds ZERO COST to your electric bill
These types of lights can often be bought at a nice discount when you buy a pack with multiple lights instead of one by one, so keep your eyes open for bundles that let you save even more money up front.
21. Plant Shady Trees to Block the Afternoon Sun
Since you’re out there in the yard saving all that money, you might as well consider planting some happy little trees alongside your home to block some of that hot summer sun and cast shade against your house.
If you enjoy having trees in your yard anyway, why not place them strategically so that you can beautify your property while cooling off the house at the same time?
Just be sure to leave enough space so that the full-grown adult trees don’t scrape up against the walls or roof overhang as the tree gets bigger throughout the years.
How to Save Money on Electricity in the Summer
I live in Las Vegas which, if you don’t know, is in the middle of the Nevada frickin desert. It gets hot here in the summer. Not as hot as Arizona, but it still hits 100+ degrees day after day, all summer long.
So we crank our ACs out here in Vegas -- all day and all night. As a result, our electric bills tend to be sky high during the summer. Is it the same where you live?
If you’re looking for ideas on how to reduce your cooling bill in the summer, try some of these tips (along with like, EVERYTHING ELSE in this article).
22. Wear Cool Clothing at Home
This one is pretty obvious to frugality veterans, but some folks still seem to have not received the memo.
So here it is: if you want to save a few extra bucks during the summer, wear shorts and a T-shirt or tank top around the house.
Don’t wear long pants, a hoodie, socks and shoes (I’m looking at you, Mr. Teenage Dream).
Wearing light, loose clothing at home in the summer will allow you to dial back your AC thermostat by a few degrees. That can probably save you a dollar a day on your power costs.
I spend a lot of time at home during the day, so this tip is a lifesaver. My bill would easily be $20-$30 higher if I was wearing pants and long sleeves all day long.
23. Raise the Thermostat by Just 1-2 Degrees
So this is obviously related to the first tip above, but it isn’t exactly the same thing. Along with wearing cooler clothing day and night, you can also just try turning the thermostat up by one additional degree. That’s not much of a difference, but once your body acclimates to that temperature, you won’t feel it. But it can still shave a few bucks off your utility bill.
You can also turn on a fan or two and have it blow on you. Yes, fans will use up electricity too. But they use a lot less than your giant AC unit. So by using fans, you can still feel cooler even with the air conditioner turned up a degree or two. After a few days, your body gets used to it, and you don’t even feel any difference.
24. Close Blinds, Drapes and Curtains During the Day
Another easy tip here is to block out that hot sunshine in the morning and evening—or even in the middle of the day.
When you’re lounging around at home, then sure, you might want to keep them open just to let in some daylight so you won’t need to turn on a lamp. But if you can get by with a little less light, or if you are away at work all day, then by all means definitely close those windows off to keep the hot sun out.
25. Replace Your HVAC Filters
Some people hold off on replacing their HVAC air filters because they don't want to spend the money.
This might be true during the fall and spring months, when you don’t run the air conditioner and heater that much anyway. But during the summer, your AC is going to be running around the clock, so it’s really important that you change out your filter every 90 days or according to the manufacturers specs.
When your air filter gets clogged up with dust over time or through heavy use, it restricts the air flow to the main unit. This causes your air conditioner to work harder to suck air through that filter and push that air throughout your home.
More strain on your AC motor means more electricity being used. And it also means more wear and tear on the motor and more frequent breakdowns.
Having your AC break down in the middle of summer sucks, and it isn’t cheap to fix, and it certainly isn't saving you any money. So change out those filters as scheduled to reduce strain on your air conditioning unit.
How to Save Money on Electricity in the Winter
Many of the tips so far have concentrated on reducing your cooling costs during the summer. But you’ll also want to reduce your heating costs in the winter time too. Here are a few simple tips for that.
26. Wear Warm Clothing at Home
This is the most basic tip for staying warm at home in the winter, but a lot of people overlook it for some reason. You can save a lot of money in the winter just by bundling up a little while hanging out around the house.
Throw on a hoodie or at least a long-sleeve shirt, socks and sweat pants at home so you can leave the heater off for a good chunk of the day.
To reduce laundry costs, just wear an undershirt. That way you can just wash the undershirts but reuse the outer layers several days in a row.
Also: blankets, people! BLANKETS!
27. Lower the Thermostat by 1-2 Degrees or More
Wearing warmer clothing might be all that you need, but in some areas it will take more than that during the snowy winters.
But even if you need to run the heater all day and all night long, you can still shave a few dollars a day off your bill by turning the heater down by a degree or two. Every little bit counts.
28. Open Blinds, Drapes, and Curtains During Daylight Hours
When the sun is shining bright and warm, take advantage of all that free light and warmth by opening up your blinds, drapes and curtains while it's available. There’s nothing like warming up in the cozy sunlight on a chilly winter morning as you enjoy that first hot cup of coffee or tea!
And I don’t know if you have a cat or a dog, but our cat loves to bask in the little patch of sunlight that beams into our living room in the morning. It’s such a small area of sunlight, but she seeks it out and tends to get up and move a few feet over every few minutes as that band of sunlight gradually moves across the room.
She cracks me up!
Electricity-Saving Tips for the Kitchen and Washroom
Other than your air conditioner and heater, the appliances that use the most electricity in your home are your washing machine, dryer, refrigerator, stove range, oven, microwave oven, dishwasher and smaller kitchen appliances like food processor, blender, crock pot, rice cooker and so on.
So basically anything that has a motor or generates heat will tend to use up a lot of electricity, especially appliances that get used every day.
Here are a few tips to help you save energy in the kitchen and in the washroom.
29. Replace Rubber Seal Around the Refrigerator Door, Freezer Door, and Clothes Dryer Door
Your refrigerator and freezer are constantly running throughout the day and night, every day and night, and they use up a ton of energy. So keeping them running efficiently is the best way to cut down your energy use in the kitchen.
Every time you open the door to your fridge or freezer, you let out all that cold air. So if you tend to stand in front of your fridge with the door wide open several times per day, poking around for a snack, then you’re wasting a lot of cold air. The motor needs to keep cranking up again to provide more cold air to replace all that air you let out.
But did you know that you might be wasting air even when the door is closed?
The next time you open the door, take a look at the inside of the door. There’s a rubber strip—similar to weather stripping—that runs around the perimeter of the door. This creates a seal when the door is closed and locks in all the cold air.
But if your rubber strip is wearing out and cracking, or if it is hanging loose and pulling away from the door, then it might not be getting a good seal. This allows the cold air to escape.
So if that rubber stripping around your freezer door and refrigerator door is wearing out, then replacing it can make a difference in your electric usage. Also, by locking that cold air in, you put less strain on the motor and allow it to last longer before it breaks down.
The same concept holds true for your clothes dryer door.
That stripping keeps the hot air in and puts less stress on the heater to allow your clothes to dry faster and use less energy in the process.
30. Lower Refrigerator and Freezer Thermostats
Have you ever pulled out some long-forgotten food item stuffed way to the back of your refrigerator and found it to be frozen solid? Or have you dug out something from the back or bottom of the freezer from like five years ago?
You just wasted a bunch of electricity freezing—and now throwing out—those food items.
Many households can get away with lowering the thermostats in the fridge and freezer just a bit to save a little more electricity—and to avoid throwing out wasted food.
Cold air helps to prolong the life of the food in your fridge, so you don’t want to lower it too much. But if you tend to rotate your foods efficiently and don’t let them go to waste by stuffing them further and further back into the fridge and freezer, then you could still lower the temperature a little without having food go bad.
31. Arrange Foods to Allow for Better Cold Air Flow
Have you ever noticed frost developing on the food in your refrigerator? Not the freezer, but in the refrigerator? If so, then that means one (or more) of these three things:
- the thermostat is set too cold
- there are too many items packed in there
- there are large items blocking the air flow and hogging all that cold air
There’s an easy fix to this, and it will improve the efficiency of your fridge and will use up less energy.
First, notice where the cold air enters your refrigerator? On the top shelf, in the back, you will see a little box with a thermostat and some vents. That’s where the magic happens. Adjust the thermostat into the midrange (not maximum cold or minimum cold). Then make sure that those vents are never blocked by large items.
Try moving things around to allow the air to circulate throughout the fridge. Don’t block off those gaps at the back of each shelf with jars and containers either. Those gaps are there intentionally to allow cold air to flow down to the lower levels of the fridge.
Next, if you have a lot of plastic bags with leftovers in them, squeeze the excess air out of them and store them in the door, in the bins or in the lower levels of the fridge. Putting them on the top shelf allows them to block the air flow.
Also, keep tall cartons and boxed items off the top shelf. Put them in the door or on the lower shelves. When these tall items are on the top shelf, they block too much of the air flow.
You can also use these same tactics in the freezer to allow for better air flow.
I'll be adding more money-saving tips to this article over time.
Do you have any tips for how to lower your electric bill? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.
And if you think any of your friends and family would benefit from the tips in this article, please share a link on Facebook, Twitter, or on your blog. Thanks!
Photos and art by Chris Desatoff.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.