Worried about electricity costs? January is not only the start of a new year, but also home to National Cut Your Energy Costs Day (Jan. 10) ‒ a perfect time to improve your energy habits. A few simple changes can bring your bill down significantly and lessen your impact on the environment. If you want to pay less for energy this year, here are a few easy ways to keep your resolution.

Light Your Home More Efficiently

Most homes consume more light than they need, normally because we forget to turn off the switch when we leave a room. But besides keeping the lights off when you aren’t using them, there are several other strategies you ought to consider. 

  • Use Natural Light. Sunlight is free, so turn off the lights and open the blinds. If the light doesn’t reach you, move your desks, tables, and chairs close to the windows.
  • Switch to Task Lighting. Instead of lighting the whole room, use table lamps, track lighting, or LED strips to illuminate the area where you’re working. 
  • Install a Dimmer Switch. Being able to lower the light level in a room saves electricity and extends the life of your bulb. It can also give your home a more soothing and pleasant atmosphere.

Reduce Hot Water Usage

The hot water heater is one of the most expensive appliances in your home. It costs the average household $400-600 a year. No one wants to live without hot water, but there are ways to get by with less.

  • Take Shorter Showers. A typical shower head uses around two gallons of water every minute. Since you pay for both the water and the water heater, cutting your morning shower means you save twice as much. 
  • Turn Off the Faucet. Letting the water run while you’re shaving, washing, or brushing your teeth wastes 1-3 gallons of water every minute, so keep the tap off until you need it. 
  • Wash Clothes in Cold Water. Cold water removes stains as well as warm water, but at a fraction of the cost.

Use Your Dishwasher Effectively

Washing dishes in a dishwasher is more efficient than washing them by hand. However, not everyone uses their dishwashers effectively. As a result, many homeowners lose out on important savings. To get the most out of your dishwasher, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Don’t Pre-Wash. Dishwashers are designed to eliminate food particles, so there’s no need to scrub and rinse your plates before putting them inside. Just scrape them off and let the dishwasher handle the rest.
  • Stack Dishes Correctly. Dishes won’t come out clean if they aren’t positioned properly. Always make sure your dishes face the center of the dishwasher in order to get the full force of the soap and water jets.
  • Don’t Heat Dry. The heat dry setting pumps hot air into your dishwasher to dry them a little faster. Leaving them to dry naturally accomplishes the same thing, but at no additional cost. 

Stop Electricity Leaks

Some devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers) continue drawing power even when they’re not in use. Sometimes referred to as “vampire appliances,” these devices are responsible for up to 10 percent of the energy you consume. Electricity leaks can cost you a lot, but stopping them is easy. You can start by:

  • Unplugging Your Devices. Anything with an external power pack or remote control will keep using energy as long as it’s connected to a power source. This also includes external devices, such as printers, speakers, or webcams hooked up to your computer.
  • Turn Off Your Computer at Night. Shutting down your computer not only saves energy, but it also extends its lifespan. Constantly running it puts undue stress on your processor, hard drive, and RAM.
  • Buy Smart Strips. Smart power strips save you the headache of monitoring your electronic devices. They automatically cut power to any device plugged into them if it’s not in use.

 Save Energy Cooking

Even though cooking is energy-intensive, it’s often overlooked by people searching for ways to reduce their power consumption. However, improving your cooking practices can save a lot over the course of a year. For example, you can:

  • Keep Your Oven Closed & Pans Covered. Opening your oven door lowers the temperature by 25 degrees. Likewise, cooking with uncovered pans let most of the heat from your stovetop escape. 
  • Replace Old Pots & Pans. Proper cookware ensures better contact with your heating element, so they warm up faster. 
  • Clean Your Stovetop. Clean burners reflect heat upwards, allowing you to cook more efficiently.