Becoming the Energy Ninja, or Why is My Electricity Bill So High?

While it’s true that summer can pack a pretty hefty wallop into our electric bill, there are a couple of things we can do to fight the good fight when it comes to lowering your electric bill.

First—does this photo look familiar to you? If your filter looks like a Wookie molted in it, it’s time to replace it. A dirty HVAC filter means that unit has to work harder, which costs you more money. Having said that, a programmable thermostat will pay for itself and the cost of installation by an electrician in a few short months. 
What else can you do?

The average hot water heater contributes about 20% to your electric bill yearly. It’s the second largest electricity draw. Lowering the temperature of your hot water heater will help. Lowering the temperature from 140 degrees to 120 degrees reduces the kWh used by about 30%. An insulating blanket ( with an "r"-value rating as recommended by the manufacturer) is another good idea. When it’s time to replace your hot water heater, consider an Energy Star rated unit.
If you aren’t a chef, coal miner or a mechanic, consider lowering the temperature of the wash and rinse water when you launder your clothes. While convention has always offered that one washes colors in cold water and whites in hot water, better laundry detergents mean these rules no longer apply because the primary use of hot water is to remove grease.  You can always use cold water for the rinse cycle. A second rinse isn’t necessary, either.

Many people are now changing the way they dry their clothes, too. A friend taught me that clothes can be dried for a short time and then placed on hangers on a rolling, double-rail clothing rack in a room with a fan or window (for sunlight) until they are totally dry. It’s important to have space between each article of clothing so they’ll dry properly.  If your HOA has an ordinance against clothes lines, you can hang a closet pole across your laundry room or use a drying rack. A friend who lives in a condo does the ‘finishing dry’, as she calls it, by hanging her nicer clothing on hangers overnight on the shower pole. Keeping that dryer nice and clean by emptying the lint trap every time and regular maintenance means it will run better—and cheaper.

Anything else? Eat away at your electric usage with little nibbles. Use quality drapes or shutters on windows. Make sure the dishwasher is full before you run it. Use a crock pot instead of the oven. Lastly, wander through your house before bedtime to seek out things you can turn off. The porch light. A computer. A fan. Go full dark. Keep count of how many you turn off each night, and see if you can raise your score. It’s not shutting off one lamp that saves you money, it’s the habit of turning things off.  Become an energy ninja--you can do it!
One last thing. If you smell anything that smells like melting plastic, an odd ozone odor, or suspect you have a short in your house somewhere, call your friendly electrician. Better that he tell you about it than hearing it from your local fire department.