Hold on to your wallet. Due to inflation and prices surging for natural gas, heating oil, and other fuels, you will see a significant rise in your bills this winter. So if you’ve already opened your electric bill only to be shocked by the amount owed, you’ve already seen the change. According to Associated Press, households can expect to see jumps of up to 54% in their heating bills.
Figuring out how to reduce your electric bill can be as simple as figuring out what’s costing you the most. To do this, you can follow a simple formula to determine how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) a device is using in a month or year, and then find ways to cut back where possible.
Kilowatt-hours are essentially a way of measuring how much power a device uses in an hour of being turned on. If you look at most appliances, they will supply a wattage or a range of wattages the device operates at — how many watts it burns in an hour. Once you have the wattage, simply divide that by 1,000 (to convert the watts to kilowatts) and then multiply by how many hours a day you use the item. That will give you a basic figure for how many kilowatt-hours a day you’re using with that item.
From there, you can use the U.S. Department of Energy’s number for the average U.S. utility rate of $0.14 per kWh, or you could get more specific and get your rate straight from your energy provider. Based on what your costs are, you can then determine which appliance or device is the actual energy vampire and what’s not really using much electricity.
Random Energy Suckers
There are certain devices that still suck power even after they’re turned “off” — and that’s a major issue. You need to be aware of how many are actually continuing to draw power even when they’re not on, including devices like your computer, instant-on TVs, surround sound systems or even cable and satellite TV boxes. For that matter, anything with a built-in digital clock is pulling a little juice.
The National Resources Defense Council estimates that almost a quarter of the energy used by your home is consumed by idle devices that aren’t even on. It is estimated that the average household in Northern California spends between $210 and $440 a year on energy vampires and the country as a whole spends $19 billion a year for electricity it’s not really using.
How do you deliver the proverbial wooden stake to the heart of your energy vampires? Unplug things you aren’t using, use power strips for devices you know use power while idle, adjust power settings on things like your computer or TV and consider getting timers for outlets to help control usage.
Not sure which devices are adding the biggest idle load to your energy bill? These are the top 10 culprits, according to the NRDC.
1. Fishpond Equipment
- Average Wattage: 220 watts
- Cost per Year: $220
Although you likely can’t pull the plug on your fishpond (unless it’s not currently housing fish), consider investing in an energy-saving pump to cut down on energy costs.
2. Hot Water Recirculation Pump
- Average Wattage: 28-92 watts
- Cost per Year: $28-$93
Plug your hot water recirculation pump into a timer and program it to switch the pump off at times when no one is typically using hot water, such as in the middle of the night.
3. Set-Top Box
- Average Wattage: 16-57 watts
- Cost per Year: $16-$57
Many homes have multiple set-top boxes, which leads to a bigger energy suck. Consider unplugging boxes that aren’t used regularly, such as a box in a guest bedroom. For the boxes you use regularly, consider plugging the entire entertainment system (set-top box, TV, speakers, etc.) into a power strip so that the whole thing can be turned off at once.
4. Audio/Visual Gear
- Average Wattage: 7-40 watts
- Cost per Year: $7-$40
Audio devices like amplifiers, stereos, boom boxes and internet radio receivers are easy enough to unplug when not in use. This simple act can save you up to $40 a year.
- Average Wattage: 110 watts
- Cost per Year: $111
Unplug fans when not in use, and switch to a fan with a timer so that it doesn’t stay on all night while you sleep.
6. 24/7 Lights
- Average Wattage: 4-104 watts
- Cost per Year: $4-$104
There really is no need to keep a light on when you are not using it. Switch off lights when not in use or put them on a timer so that they shut off automatically.
- Average Wattage: 2-54 watts
- Cost per Year: $2-$54
Unplug any TVs that you don’t regularly use, such as one in a guest bedroom. You should also adjust the power setting on your TV. Consider disabling your TV’s “quick start” setting to save on energy.
- Average Wattage: 4-104 watts
- Cost per Year: $4-$104
The main culprit of energy usage in your aquarium is the heater. Although you might not be able to unplug it depending on the optimum temperature for your fish, consider insulating the tank and placing it in a well-heated room to cut down on heating costs. If you have an aquarium light, unplug it when not in use.
9. Desktop Computer
- Average Wattage: 1-49 watts
- Cost per Year: $1-$49
Your computer doesn’t draw a ton of power, even when it’s on, with a typical desktop costing you about a penny an hour. However, even pennies can add up over the course of a year. Plug your computer, monitor, printer, computer speakers and other computer accessories into a single power strip that can be turned off when not in use. Let your computer go to sleep after a maximum of 30 minutes of inactivity, and turn your computer off whenever you’ve finished using it.
- Average Wattage: 5-17 watts
- Cost per Year: $5-$17
Unplug your modem before going to bed. You don’t need internet access when you’re asleep.
Source: Unplug These Appliances That Hike Up Your Electricity Bill | GOBankingRates