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Ask the Expert: Savings around the house

Ask the Expert: Savings around the house

by | Aug 30, 2018 | 0 comments

My wife is a retired teacher and I am a veteran. We keep lights off and regulate our A/C, but it's not enough to stay on budget. What can we do to lower our bill?

Talbert B., Lake Worth, FL

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We all want to save energy around the house and reduce our energy bill.  To help answer your question, and many others like this one, we’ve put together a room-by-room guide with tips on how to save energy and reduce your household bills. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Your kitchen is one of the most energy-hungry rooms in the house, thanks to big appliances like your refrigerator, oven and dishwasher. One of the best ways to save energy in your kitchen is through ENERGY STAR® certified appliances that use less energy. For instance, an ENERGY STAR® refrigerator is about 15 percent more efficient, saving you about $80 per year, while an ENERGY STAR® dishwasher can save you about $30 a year.

Save even more with these tips:

  • Run the dishwasher when it’s full, and set to “air-dry” rather than “heat-dry.”
  • Program coffee makers to turn on and off at specific times.
  • Grill outside, use a crock pot or incorporate no-cook meals into your menus.
  • Use your microwave or toaster oven to warm up leftovers – they use less energy than a conventional oven.
  • When you cook, cover pots and pans to help trap heat inside and reduce cooking times by approximately 10 percent.
  • Keep oven and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible. Keeping the oven door closed while in use can save as much as $20 per year!
  • Don’t forget to let hot food cool down and properly wrap it before sticking it in the fridge. Hot or uncovered foods in the refrigerator create moisture and raise its internal temperature, which puts the compressor into overdrive and wastes energy.

The bathroom is another troublesome area of the house, especially if you have several family members rotating showers, brushing teeth and washing hands. One easy way to lower your energy bill in the bathroom is to take shorter showers and lower the thermostat on your water heater. For every 10 degrees you reduce the temperature, you can save three to five percent on your bill ($12-$30 annually). ENERGY STAR certified bathroom fixtures and fans can also help you save money. ENERGY STAR® certified fans provide up to 55 percent better efficiency with less noise.

  • Remember to unplug hair dryers, curling irons, electric razors and other bathroom gadgets when you’re done using them to prevent power drain.

Laundry Room
As in the kitchen, the laundry room can also benefit from ENERGY STAR® certified appliances. Certified washers use about 25 percent less energy than conventional models and will save you about $45 a year on your energy bill, while certified dryers can save you $245 over the lifetime of the product. Moisture-sensing dryers that shut off when your clothes are dry and new heat-pump dryers that use the heat they generate to power themselves more efficiently are also great energy-saving options.

Use these simple methods to save more when doing your next load of laundry:

  • Wash your clothes in cold water to save about $66 on heating costs.
  • Always wait for a full load to run the wash. Reducing the total number of loads each year by 25 percent could save you 3,227 gallons of water.
  • Perform regular maintenance on your dryer and clean the lint trap between loads—this improves air circulation and increases efficiency.
  • Program a faster spin speed to reduce the amount of drying needed and save about $11 per year.

Keeping your bedroom cool can be a chore. Instead of relying solely on the A/C, consider some energy-saving alternatives. Keeping your A/C at a higher temperature while using a ceiling fan can make your room feel three to eight degrees cooler. But, when leaving the room don’t forget to turn the fan off to avoid wasting energy.

Other ideas:

  • Use window treatments. Keep curtains and blinds closed all day during the summer to reduce solar heat gain by 33 percent. At night, close your blinds to prevent heat loss and get a good night’s sleep.
  • Unplug phone chargers and personal electronics when not in use. They continue to draw power anytime they’re plugged in, even when they’re not charging anything. Consider getting a smart power strip, which shuts off electronics that are no longer in use, to avoid high standby power costs.

Living room
The living room is another place that may have several electronic devices running at once. The two biggest energy hogs are your television and digital cable box, says the nonprofit American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

A 50” plasma TV can consume around 379 kilowatt hours of energy per year. If it’s on for five hours a day at a customer rate of $0.10 per kilowatt hour, you’re talking about $69.24 per year. By comparison, a 50” LED TV is more energy-efficient, consuming around 130 kilowatt hours of energy and costing $23.90 per year.

Try these tips in the living room:

  • Streaming entertainment through a notebook or tablet is more energy efficient than using your game console.
  • Plugging all your living room electronics into a single power strip and then flipping the strip’s switch off when not in use allows you to leave your electronics plugged in and prevent idle power drain.
  • During winter, reverse your ceiling fan and lower your thermostat by 5°F. Set your thermostat 2°F higher in the summer for additional savings. Remember to turn your fan off when you leave the room.
  • Turn off lights when you leave the room, and rely on natural daylight when available, to further reduce energy costs.

Home office
Home office computers, laptops, printers and modems, oh my! How do you stay connected and productive in an energy-efficient home? Setting your desktop computer to sleep/hibernate mode is a great way to use less energy during inactivity. ENERGY STAR® estimates that using this feature on your desktop computer can save you up to $35 annually and $5 annually for a laptop.

Other tips:

  • Use LCD flat screen monitors, rather than CRT, and switch from a desktop to a battery-powered laptop to use less energy.
  • A typical inkjet printer is estimated to spend about half of its time in standby mode. If you turn off the printer instead, you would likely save around $0.50 per year.
  • Set up the perfect, energy-efficient lighting for your work space by choosing ENERGY STAR® certified LED bulbs, which can save over $55 in its lifetime and can last over 12 years.
  • For more home office tips, view our recent blog on Energy Use of Home Office Equipment

We hope these help! For more ways to save on your energy usage, please visit our Online Home Energy Survey. Learn about our programs and resources at

About The Author

Brad Goar

Brad Goar is the program manager for FPL's Home Energy Survey and Low Income Weatherization programs. With over 140,000 home energy surveys performed annually, FPL's Home Energy Survey is one of the largest utility run energy survey programs in the nation.

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