Once upon a time, there were four distinct seasons. Two, spring and fall, were mild. Two, summer and winter, were more extreme. You could count on your energy bills increasing during those seasons because heating and cooling your house would be harder to do naturally. Today, thanks to climate change, most of us are stuck with two seasons: too hot and too cold. We spend all year adjusting our thermostats and trying to control our environments.
Obviously heating and cooling a home are not the only reasons that your energy bill is too high. Factors like market competition and lifestyle choices also figure into the equation. And, while the weather isn’t something you can control, your energy bill is. Here are some tips and tricks to help you reduce your energy expenses, no matter what the weather throws at you:
Let’s tackle market concerns first, as these are the simplest to deal with. Some people reading this will be living in a market that is highly regulated–for example, there might only be one energy provider available in your town or county (likely a subsidiary of Direct Energy). If you live in one of these states, you can skip ahead to the next section. The rest of you, consider yourselves lucky! You live in a deregulated market. This means that you can shop around. You can check out the competitors providing power in your area and choose the plan that matches your budget.
Negotiate Your Bill
Wait, what? Power usage is power usage, right? Not necessarily. Many power providers will tack on a bunch of extra costs and fees to your bill or inflate the price of what they are supposed to charge you based on local laws. They count on your just accepting those tax and fee rates. Don’t! Spend some time researching the local power codes and regulations in your area. If you catch your power provider price gouging, call them on it. They’ll likely take those charges off your bill. You can often also negotiate some of the arbitrary fees. Go over your bill with your provider point by point and try to get the lowest rates possible.
If you want to completely eliminate your power bill, you can go “off the grid” but let’s be real here: you’re not going to go completely off the grid, not if you have a family. You need heat and refrigeration and access to the internet. All of those things require power. Thankfully there are many habits you can develop (or undo) that will reduce the costs of your electric bill. Here are a few of them.
Dress for the weather, not for fashion. There is a meme going around about “dress for the weather you want, not the weather you have.” Don’t buy into it! If it’s cold, put on long pants and sleeves. Wear thermals underneath your outfit if you don’t want to wear bulky sweaters or coats. If it’s hot out, switch to lighter weighted fabrics.
Use natural sources of light and heat. Does your home have a fireplace? Arrange your furniture around it in the winter for heat. Then, when it gets warmer out, move the furniture to the windows to take advantage of the long days and natural light coming through your windows.
Seal up your house. Most of our electric bills high cost comes from homes that aren’t properly sealed. Make sure that your insulation is still in good shape. Seal any cracks, gaps, or holes you find around doors, windows, pipes, etc. The more “air tight” your home, the easier it will be to regulate the inside temperature.
Unplug. Vampire power is a real problem. Don’t just turn off your electronics and small appliances. Unplug them when they aren’t in use.
Go as green as possible: air dry your clothing, switch to LED light bulbs, collect rainwater, install solar panels, hook your stationary bike or treadmill up to your grid so that you can provide some of the power needed by your home when you exercise. There are lots of eco-friendly ways to reduce your bills.
The point is this: don’t settle. Challenge your bill and your lifestyle. The lower your bill, the less power you’re using. The less power you’re using, the smaller your carbon footprint. The smaller your carbon footprint, the better for the planet.