Admit it, you’ve stomped around the house yourself, madly shutting off lights, turning down (or up) the thermostat, and asking “Who left the refrigerator door open?” at least once, more like once per day if you’re a parent. Electric bills aren’t pretty, regardless of how much you’re paying every month in comparison to everyone else you know. Maybe it’s because they’re so variable- during the autumn and spring, when temperatures are mild, electric bills are often not too bad. It’s when the air conditioner kicks on in the summer and the furnace gets used in the winter that those bills start feeling egregious. So how do you trim those bills down to size? As it happens, there are a couple of ways, and they aren’t all that hard to accomplish, taken a few at a time.
First up is one of the least obvious, but the most expensive energy waster, and thus, one you should take care of sooner than later. Insulating your home means more than rolling Owens-Corning in your attic (though that’s a pretty good first step if it isn’t already done…) It means making sure there aren’t any serious air gaps in your home. Check for drafts under the doors and around the windows. If necessary, seal the drafts up with expanding foam insulation in the cracks you find, and you can install draft shields to keep drafts out of doorways.
While sealing up drafts and insulating is the big fix that should cut your electric bill significantly every month, little fixes work as well. Take light bulbs for instance. While CFL’s can be a bit contentious and LED bulbs expensive compared with incandescent bulbs, they provide a significant savings that really adds up over time. Your best bet when switching to these more efficient, more expensive bulbs (especially LEDs) is to pay attention to when they go on sale from your local retailers. This will reduce your initial outlay of cash, and maximize their value. Using about 1/10th of the power of an incandescent bulb, though, they’ll pay for themselves eventually. Given that they last about 40x longer than a standard bulb, that’ll be long before they’re not any good any more.
Another tip that’s easy to deal with for most people is to insulate yourself. Get to know sweaters and cozy bedroom slippers in the winter, and you’ll be able to crank down that thermostat by 5 or 10 degrees without too much trouble.
In the future, renewable energy sources are destined to bring down electric prices, to the point that our great- grandchildren may well live in a world in which electrical power is seen as a fundamental human right that could be free to taxpayers in all the first world countries. Maybe. We’re almost on the point of calling internet access a basic right, so crazier things have happened, right?