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Why Is My Electric Bill So High?

Updated on March 14, 2024

Find dozens of no-cost and low-cost ways to save on your utility bills and reduce your carbon footprint in 2024.

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Photo: Carrie Hamblin

Learn How to Save + Conserve

Is your utility bill creeping up every month and you’re not sure why? Or are you just looking for ways to conserve electricity and be more energy efficient to help combat climate change? There are many ways you can lower your electricity usage and become more energy efficient, and the good news is some won’t cost you a cent.

The US Department of Energy updated its Energy Saver guide, highlighting the top household energy guzzlers and offering great tips on how to save money. Many of these ideas are free, they’re just a matter of changing a few habits and unplugging certain devices. Weatherstripping, energy-efficient lightbulbs and regular maintenance on appliances won’t cost a lot upfront but will save money down the road. If you need to upgrade appliances and utilities like water heaters and thermostats, we’ve got tips on what features to look for and what are the most energy-efficient models on the market today.

Consider a home energy audit, where a professional makes a detailed assessment of your entire home. Energy Star has a local search tool for resources near you but if you want to DIY it, start with Berkeley Lab’s Home Energy Saver tool. You tell it about your home, and it will spit out personalized recommendations for energy-saving improvements.

There has never been a better time to energy-proof your household. The Inflation Reduction Act includes consumer rebates and up to $3,200 in an income tax credit for energy-efficient improvements like purchasing new appliances, replacing old windows and doors, adding insulation and sealing, and even installing a solar energy system. This program starts with your 2023 taxes and runs through 2032.

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Adjust Your Thermostat

Heating and cooling the air in your home make up a third of your annual energy usage, but the single biggest contributor to your bill also offers several ways to save. Adjusting the thermostat just a few degrees closer to the outside temp helps a lot: 7 to 10 degrees closer for eight hours a day could reduce the bill by 10%.

You can also save by replacing the thermostat altogether. New smart thermostats can be controlled remotely, can learn your at-home preferences and can maximize your energy savings by modifying the temperature when you’re not at home. They’re also data geeks, offering you a ton of valuable info on your usage so you can find opportunities to save even more.

4 best smart thermostats of 2024, tested and reviewed

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Use Fans

Adding fans to your repertoire makes your living spaces feel cooler without hitting the thermostat’s down arrow. Don’t use your central air conditioner's fan — leave that one on auto. Set ceiling fans to run counterclockwise during the summer months for the wind-chill effect. In the winter, flip the direction to clockwise to circulate the warm air trying to rise back down into your living latitude. If you’re wondering how to even do such a thing, look for a switch on the ceiling-hugging part of the fan or check your instruction manual. Fan innovator and review-site favorite Vornado has introduced a line of DC-powered air circulators that use 80% less energy than the typical AC-powered personal and room fans.

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Change Air Filters Often

ust keeping up on regular HVAC maintenance can save you a bundle. Dirty filters waste money by making the heating and cooling units work harder (aka use more energy) to pull air. Schedule periodic filter changes in your phone calendar, or have your new smart thermostat alert you when it’s time.

Poorly sealed and uninsulated air ducts are a huge energy drain, wasting energy and adding hundreds of dollars a year to your bills. Proper sealing will also improve your air quality. Do you think you’re just sending air into the crawl space with those leaky ducts? Nope, it’s usually a two-way street. Ewwww.

Of course, new heating and cooling appliances can reduce electricity usage by a whopping 20%. You also save by having appropriately sized units for the house and household needs. Apparently, many of us don’t.

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