Save on your Texas Electricity Bill

Aside from cheap energy rates from competitive electric providers, you can take additional steps to reduce your monthly energy bills through conservation. Energy conservation not only reduces your total cost for electricity but also helps protect the environment and other natural resources. By implementing the following no-cost actions (provided courtesy of the Public Utility Commission of Texas) into your daily routine, you can shave plenty of dollars from your electric bill and help conserve, as well as protect, the environment:

Cool and Heat your Home Wisely

  • Set your thermostat to 78°F in the summer and 68°F in the winter-every degree of extra heating or cooling will increase energy usage 6% to 8%.
  • Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature than normal will not cool your home faster.
  • On warm days raise your thermostat to 80°F or higher if leaving for more than four hours.
  • Using ceiling or portable fans instead. Fans move the air and make the room feel four to six degrees cooler, and will use much less energy than the air conditioner.
  • Keep windows and door shut tight. Going in and out of the house repeatedly will make your air conditioner or furnace work harder.
  • Use shades or curtains to block the sun and heat during warm weather and open them to let the sun warm your home during cooler months.
  • Make sure your air-conditioner is clean. Washing the outside coils and clearing high grass and debris will prevent blockage of the air-flow.
  • Do not use humidifiers or evaporator ("swamp") coolers with the air conditioner.

Appliances

Refrigerators and Freezers:

  • Minimize opening and closing your refrigerator and freezer. Every time you open it, cool air will rush out and be replaced with warm air, causing the refrigerator to run more to stay cool.
  • Keep it full. Refrigerators and freezers actually operate most efficiently when full, so keep your refrigerator and freezer as full as possible (with bottles of water if nothing else).
  • Keep condenser coils on the back of your refrigerator and freezer clean.

Water Heater

  • Set temperature to 120°F if your dishwasher has its own water heater, otherwise set it at 140°F.
  • Repair leaking faucets. Warm-water leaks should be given immediate attention because they can raise your electric consumption rapidly.
  • Drain your hot water tank regularly to remove sediment.

Dishwashers and Clothes Washers/Dryers

  • Only run dishwashers and clothes washers when fully loaded. This will save water in addition to electricity. Use cold water for laundry.
  • Use the air-dry setting on your dishwasher. Using the heat-dry setting can also heat the kitchen, causing the air conditioner to run more.
  • When drying clothes, do not overfill the dryer and use the automatic setting if available. Dry loads back-to-back if possible, but remember to clean the lint screen between each load.
  • Ensure that the outside clothes dryer air vent is well-sealed.
  • Use at night. Using dishwashers and clothes washers/dryers at night will keep the house cooler and reduce strain on the power grid during the peak usage hours of 4 PM and 6 PM and reduce the chance of an emergency.

Lighting and other Electrical Equipment

  • Turn them off. Turn off lights, TVs, and other equipment when when you leave a room. You'll save electricity, and generate less heat, meaning the air conditioner will run less.
  • Use power strips. Even when turned off, electronic and other home office equipment can continue to consume electricity when plugged into the wall. Shutting off power at a power strip will eliminate this standby electricity consumption.
  • Don't leave bathroom or kitchen ventilation fans running longer than necessary; they replace inside air with outside air.

Home Computers

  • Use power management tools. Set monitors and computers to switch to sleep mode when idle for more than a few minutes. This will not only use less energy, but will run cooler and reduce the need to run air-conditioning. Turn machines completely off at a power strip when not in use.

Energy Efficiency Improvements

Reduce lighting costs

  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). CFLs use 75 percent less electricity and produce 90% less heat.
  • Make sure bulbs do not exceed the recommended wattage indicated on the light socket.
  • One larger wattage bulb is more efficient than two smaller wattage bulbs.
  • Directed light, such as for reading, is more efficient than brightly lighting an entire room.
  • Clean light bulbs regularly.

Install and use a programmable thermostat

  • Set them to raise the temperature during the day when you're not home, and to cool the house down before you arrive home. Properly used, a programmable thermostat can save 10-20% of your energy use.

Stop Leaks

  • Increase the comfort of your home while reducing your bills by investing in proper insulation and weatherization products. Reduce air leaks and increase the efficiency of your home by caulking, sealing and weather-stripping all seams, cracks and openings to the outside. Check with the Insulation Contractors Association of America to make sure your home meets current insulation recommendations.
  • Check your ducts to see if there are any leaks and seal them with mastic tape if needed. Caulk and weather-strip doors, windows and pipe clearances. You can save as much as 10% on cooling costs relatively inexpensively by sealing these leaks.

Properly size and maintain your air conditioner

  • Ensure that your HVAC system is properly sized for your home and correctly installed. Bigger is not always better.
  • At the beginning of cooler or warmer weather have a professional come out to inspect your HVAC system.
  • Have your duct system checked for air leaks and proper insulation.
  • Consider installing a "whole house fan" to improve circulation and ventilation throughout your home.
  • Outside air conditioning units, or condensers, should be shaded.
  • Check air filters once a month and replace at least every three months as dirty filters make your system run and work harder than necessary. If your air-conditioner is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient model that can use up to 40% less energy than older models.

Ventilate and insulate the attic

  • Proper ventilation reduce the temperature and moisture buildup, which can cause the air conditioner to work harder. Proper insulation with high R-value insulation will keep more cool air in the house.

Add shade

  • A properly landscaped home can significantly reduce your household energy consumption for heating and cooling. Consult your local nursery for information on trees and shrubbery that can serve as shade in the summer and wind blocks in the winter. You should consider mature size, growth rate, strength and brittleness before planting.

Consider energy cost when buying new appliances

  • When buying an appliance, remember that it has two price tags: what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy and water it uses. ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models. The money you save on your utility bills can more than make up for the cost of a more expensive but more efficient ENERGY STAR model.
  • Consider a tankless water heater: they are 35% to 45% more efficient, and you will never run out of hot water.

Improve your windows

  • If your home has single pane windows, consider replacing them with more energy efficient windows, or adding solar shades or tinting film.

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