Believe it or not, your local electric company actually wants you to save money. They are introducing new ways to lower electric bills with consumer incentives and smart technologies. You can be rewarded for your conservation efforts in tangible ways on your way to living green and protecting the planet, while increasing the money in your pocket.
- Smart grids and smart meters. Around the country, power grids are becoming smarter with technological advances that prevent outages and other issues through the informed participation of consumers. Smart home meters, which are now beginning to replace the traditional, lower-tech models, incorporate sophisticated communication capabilities to help homeowners make an immediate connection between the power they’re using and the price they’re paying. Some utilities offer other helpful real-time communications with customers, such as phone or e-mail messaging in advance of peak use or pricing periods and in-home monitors that help track rate changes and oncoming grid overloads.
- Pricing incentives. Many electrical utilities help homeowners power down throughout the grid’s busiest times of day with pricing plans that reward use during off-peak hours.
- Rebates for energy-saving appliances and home upgrades. Your local utility likely has an extensive menu of rebates for purchases that help trim your power and green up your home. Offers apply to everything from individual appliances to bigger home improvements like roofing and insulation installations, so consult your utility to find out how you can compound the value of choices you make for your home.
- Online calculators and other tools. Electrical utilities also help you steer toward smarter usage with online resources like energy savings calculators, buyers’ guides and tip sheets.
Do-it-yourself energy saving tips that can lower electric bills:
- Add your own power monitor. While you wait for your local grid to get smarter and a new meter to be installed at your home base, take steps to monitor your family’s utility use with products made for the task. Energy monitors such as Black & Decker’s Power Monitor are simple to install and work with your current electrical meter to provide real-time information on energy use and costs with an easy-to-program, easy-to-read tabletop display. You can also find monitors that individually test appliances for consumption, efficiency and waste so you know exactly where your energy dollars are going each month and where use can be reduced with more efficient replacements.
- Know local rates. Knowledge is indeed power, and you can’t brighten your energy conservation picture if you’re in the dark regarding local rates and schedules. As mentioned above, most utilities guard the grid and offer savings to customers with incentivized pricing throughout the seasons, so even the most general knowledge of the ups, downs and opportunities they offer can lower electric bills. With this useful information, you could save yourself money every month when those dreaded utility bills arrive.
- Track your power usage. When your monthly electric bill arrives, look beyond the immediate balance to your usage history. Many utility bills include a chart or graph that illustrates the customer’s consumption month-to-month and year-to-year. Use these simple tools to project use for upcoming seasons and to assess how and why you might be using more (or, hopefully, less) electricity than at the same time last year.
- Power up for a change of residence. If you’re shopping for a home of a different size or in a different area, it doesn’t hurt to review the current owners’ utility bills from the past few years. Your personal use and costs will likely vary for the same property, but you’ll at least have a basic picture of money spent and the number of kilowatt-hours of energy consumed there on a monthly basis. To lower electric bills even further, consider possible improvements and appliances to bring with you for the move.
For more helpful energy saving tips, check out these energy savers from the U.S. Department of Energy.