Heading into fall and winter, you’ve found an electricity plan that can provide lower rates after the miserable Texas summer. So you’ve done everything you can to make sure your energy bills won’t revolt against your wallet, right? Not so fast. Yes, rates play a big factor in determining your bill, but so does usage. Incorporating energy efficiency as part of your Texas electricity strategy can help keep bills at bay.
Thankfully, there are energy-efficiency strategies for all budgets. Some steps won’t cost a dime to implement; others will come with an upfront cost but will yield big benefits over time.
Check out the following suggestions:
A standard thermostat keeps your home at the temperature you select all day, every day. Set it and forget it is easy – as in an easy way to use more electricity than is necessary. That’s the way people have done it forever, unless they changed the settings manually to let the home get warmer during the summer or cooler during the winter while they were away at work.
Which meant that they came home to a place that needed immediate heating or cooling, depending on the season. Not the most efficient or comfortable way to run a household. A programmable, or smart, thermostat, solves the comfort problem. You can program when it cools or heats – anticipating your return each day – or control it with your smartphone.
Here’s the thing: Count on spending about $250 or so to buy the smart thermometer; you’ll be able to save 15-20 percent on your heating and cooling bill. After a few months, in other words, you’ll have paid for the device and continue to save.
Energy vampires are appliances, including electronics, that use electricity even when they’re not technically active. Think televisions, computers and printers. Personal finance gurus (and energy-efficiency “experts” will tell you to shut down these times – and unplug them – when not in use.
Most people, of course, aren’t going to do that. But a “smart” power strip will shut power off completely to devices that go into standby mode. You can get one that works for $20-$30. Potential savings: Up to 10% off your electricity usage each month.
Windows can help you save money in two ways. Keep the shades drawn in the summer and open during the winter and your rooms will naturally be cooler or warmer. And it costs nothing.
Make sure the seals on your windows are tight. That’ll keep warm air in during the winter and cooler air in during the summer, easing your heating and cooling needs.
Get rid of your old bulbs and replace them with LEDs, which are much more energy efficient. You’ll spend in the neighborhood of $5 per bulb, but the savings can be substantial.
The Consumer Federation of America estimates you can save – depending on the number of bulbs in your house – $1,000 over 10 years.
Want to save $214 a year without spending a dime? Wash and rinse your clothing in cold water instead of washing in hot water and rinsing with warm. Add $25 more in laundry savings by clearing your lint screen before drying every load and cleaning the lint duct work at least once a year.
Speaking of hot water, turning down your water heater usually is a good idea. The Department of Energy says water heating can account for about 12 percent of a household’s utility bill. It recommends turning the temperature down to 120 degrees. For every 10 degrees you reduce the water temperature, you can reduce your water heating energy needs by up to 5 percent.
Not necessarily. In Texas, most electricity plans charge different rates depending on how much electricity you use each month. Falling below a certain level can mean higher rates and – in some cases – higher bills. Confusing, right?
Here’s the thing: Most Texas electricity rates posted online correspond to using 2,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month. Average usage in Texas is 1,156 kWh/month, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. So that lower rate at 2,000 kilowatt hours could become a higher rate at your actual usage.
That’s why most consumers should make use of energy experts (such as the ones at SaveOnEnergy.com®) to navigate the buying process. Call the number on this page to get the help you need from our experts. You can supercharge the conversation if you have an old bill handy.
Your final energy-efficiency tip: Get that plan figured out to your advantage as soon as you can. Call today.