There’s nothing more terrifying than a huge electricity bill. Because when it’s huge, it’s enormous, thus giving you heart palpitations, making you dodge your mailbox. We’ve been there, too many times. But we were curious to see what really makes that bill so high… and beyond our mothers-in-law telling us to unplug all of our appliances, how can we easily try to reduce it.

What are the biggest energy drainers?
For whatever reason, the lights seem to be the thing that everyone focuses on when it comes to keeping the electricity bill down. We can hear the echoes of our fathers complaining that money doesn’t grow on trees every time we left a bathroom light on. But the biggest drainers of electricity aren’t your lights (which make up only 14% of your bill), they are your refrigerator, washing machine and dishwasher. Of course, we are excluding the months where the AC or heat are on blast (that will come next) but for the average month, these are what drive up the bill.

Anything that has to heat up large amounts of water – your water heater, dishwasher, and washing machine – is a big influence on your electricity bill. Your refrigerator is another huge consumer of energy, keeping food cold as well as frozen.

Tips for keeping you bill down with your dishwasher, refrigerator and washing machine:

  • Replace that old fridge, dishwasher, dryer and washing machine with Energy Star appliances immediately.
  • Keep your fridge away from heat – ovens, stoves, and direct sunlight – so it doesn’t have to use more energy to keep it cool.
  • Make sure your fridge and freezer are at optimal temperatures and not colder than they need to be – 5 degrees Fahrenheit for the freezer, and between 37 and 40 degrees for your fridge.
  • Wash your clothes on cold – not only is it better for your clothes, but heating the water can account for up to 90% of your washing machine’s energy use.
  • Find a dishwasher that uses less water – the less amount of water, the less it has to heat.

What to do in the hot and cold months?
In extreme temperatures there is not much we can do to avoid having to increase our energy consumption. Some kind of cooling and heating system is necessary, and we just have to bite the bullet.

Tips for keeping your bill down during extreme temperatures:

  • Keep your AC vents clean and open – if your central air or individual AC aren’t running efficiently, it will take more energy to get the effect you want.
  • Consider a more moderate temperature – lowering the temperature so much that you need a sweater inside is counter-productive to being both wallet and eco-friendly.
  • Close your blinds at peak hours. When the sun is hottest, shut your windows and close your blinds to block out heat. Sometimes you don’t even need to put the AC on if you just moderate your home’s temperature during those hottest hours.
  • Always make sure your heating and air cooling systems are as efficient as possible.

What about small appliances and lights?
Most appliances don’t actually use that much energy and account for only 17% of your bill. While the thought of unplugging each one after we use it seems impractical, an easy way to keep these costs down is to plug them into electrical ports that have a universal on/off switch.

Similarly, the lights are usually the least to consume energy in your home. Of course, we advise that you always turn them off in spaces you are no longer using (especially when you leave your home). And we also advise that you consider lower energy bulbs (LED for example) for places that don’t need atmospheric lighting. For those places that need great lighting, consider halogen bulbs (that consume less than incandescent) or Edison bulbs for a few key places.