Are You Overpaying for Electricity? - Accent Energy, NY
In this economy, everyone is trying to cut back. Whether that means giving up your weekly manicure or skipping a vacation, people are going without luxuries in order to live as comfortably as they're used to with as little as they can. What many fail to do is look at things like energy when they're deciding what to cut back on. Consumers end up paying much more than they need to for electricity when there's no reason to. With three simple steps you can cut back your yearly electricity costs significantly.
1) Understand your bill. While it sounds pretty basic, this is a step that many people neglect to take the time to do. If you don't understand your bill, how would you know if there was an error on it? What if your meter was read wrong? Would you even notice?
There are other charges you might incur other than the standard per kilowatt-hour price. Some utility companies require a demand charge, which is based on the maximum amount of electricity you use at a time. To reduce this charge you can spread out your use. Instead of running your washer, dryer, and dishwasher simultaneously, use them at different points of the day. Turn the dishwasher on just before you leave for work so that it's the only thing that's being used. Or if it's during the summer months, wait until nighttime when you don't need your air conditioner.
Some companies charge less at night. This is because, especially in the summer, when everyone has their air conditioners blasting at the same time, it can be difficult for companies to keep up with demand. The demand is much less in the evening, which results in some companies lowering prices in the hopes that you'll take advantage of these rates and use some of your larger appliances then. You should check with your utility company to see. It's a really effective (and simple!) way of lowering your costs.
2) Be more energy efficient! Once you understand your bill, know that there are so many cheap, easy things you can do that can effect how much you pay.
For one, keep everything clean. Clean appliances run much more efficiently. This means clearing the lint out of your dryer trap, vacuuming dust from the coils of your refrigerator, and cleaning the air filters for your air conditioning unit monthly. It takes up so little of your time and costs you nothing, but it could save you significantly!
There are many things you can do to ensure that you get the most out of your air conditioning unit. First, make sure your home is sealed up. Caulk or place weather strips anywhere that air may get through, like cracks around windows and doorframes. Close your blinds during the day. Less sunlight will result in less heat. You can also use fans while you're at home to cool you down, which will enable you to set the thermostat a few degrees higher. And program your thermostat! There's no reason to have your air conditioner running full blast when you're not home. Turn it up a few degrees while you're at work and set it to be cool by the time you return. That one simple step can save you 10 percent on your cooling bill!
Another great way to save money is by switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs. While they might be more expensive to purchase, these bulbs more than make up for their price in the end. They use about 75 percent less energy than regular incandescent bulbs and they last up to 10 times longer. On top of all of that, they produce 70 percent less heat.
Other quick and easy ways to up your efficiency includes setting your refrigerator and freezer at their ideal temperatures, turning down the temperature on your water heater, and making sure you buy appropriately sized appliances. Why buy an air conditioning unit that's too powerful? It will cost you more to purchase and more to run. Another great way to save is unplugging appliances when you're not using them. There's no reason to keep your cell phone charger or your microwave plugged in when they're not in use. They suck energy and also create heat.
3) Shop around for better prices and deals. If you've done the first two steps and are still not happy, check out alternate suppliers (if your state has a deregulated electric industry). A lot of companies use renewable energy and are thus much less dependent on the fluctuating prices of oil or natural gas. This means that while some companies' prices might fluctuate depending on how much they have to pay for oil or gas, companies that use renewable energy are much less dependent on these prices.
You may also want to consider other plans. Fixed bills may work for you. With these plans, you would pay the same sum every month, no matter how much energy you use. Your utility company will use factors like the amount you used in the previous year and will factor in changes in pricing. Be careful though, because if you use more energy than your provider anticipated, you could end up with a big bill to make up for it. On the flip side, if you use less you could earn a credit.
Another type of plan to look into that was touched on earlier is the time-of-use plan. With this plan you pay less for electricity during off-peak hours�and sometimes more during peak hours. To decide whether this plan is right for you, you should consider when you use the most electricity. Are you home during the day? If not, and you use most of your electricity mid-evening and early in the morning, this plan might work very well for you.
As you can see, reducing your electricity costs may be a lot easier than you thought. Without being inconvenienced in any way, and without shelling out a lot of money, you can be kind to your wallet and to the environment. Maybe you'll save yourself enough money to get that manicure after all!