With utility bills skyrocketing, many wonder how to reduce their carbon footprint and lower how much they owe. There’s nothing like saving money and saving the environment simultaneously, right?
The causes for increasing utility bills can vary by household, but the overall inflation is relatively the same. There are actionable steps you can take to lower your utility bill and be more eco-friendly while doing so.
Why is Your Utility Bill High? The Issues You Can’t Control
First, we’ll start with a brief overview of why utility bills are a concern right now. Some environmental and political issues you can’t control are increasing utility bill prices. People can only hope these changes are temporary for everyone’s and the environment’s sake.
This video by Wall Street Journal gives a snapshot of the issue:
Here’s a little more information on issues you benefit from knowing more about:
Inflation was already on the rise post-pandemic, as economic recovery accelerated demand across many sectors while supply chain bottlenecks and labor shortages struggled to keep up. In the United States, the consumer price index has been rising since February 2021.
Then, this spring, Russia invaded Ukraine and the shockwaves from this war have global implications. The invasion elevated food and energy prices across the world, given the region’s role as a major supplier of oil, gas, metals and agricultural products.
Nobody can confidently predict the arc of inflation, as it depends on monetary policy, the course of Russia’s invasion and other worldwide economic factors. So for now, we just have to buckle up as utility costs rise.
Climate Change & Drought Conditions
Drought happens when there is insufficient water due to dry weather. Wildfires or low precipitation cause this deficit and can impact the electricity grid providing energy to citizens. Hydropower is lost due to drought and is replaced by electricity to power the hydroelectric dams.
This results in having to use more expensive means to power the dams. Extremely high temperatures contribute to drought and present higher uses of electricity for air conditioning, thus raising electricity use.
Hydropower is always in short supply and dryness only adds to the issue. With the drought causing much strain on the power grid, it’s working overtime to compensate for what it lacks and raising costs across the board.
Eco-Friendly Solutions to Lower Your Utility Bill
This may seem gloomy, but the good news is that individuals do have the power to make greener choices that reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and cut back on energy consumption while utility prices remain higher than average.
You can try eco-friendly solutions to focus your efforts on controllable things, like personal electricity consumption. Eradicating high energy bills might be out of reach, but you can do your part to cut corners and live sustainably where you can.
1. Unplug Power-Drawing Devices
Did you know that electronic devices and appliances you have plugged into your outlets can continually uses power even when they aren’t in use? Unplug electronics and appliances when you don’t need them to cut back on your energy consumption.
Want to see the effects this while have before you try it? You can take time to test appliances and devices in your home to see if they are drawing unnecessary energy when not in use. Use a watt-meter to guage whether devices or appliances are registering power when turned off. If so, you know they can be unplugged or upgraded to a more sustainable model.
You could also plug everything into power strips with a switch. This is great for computer setups and entertainment consoles. Toggle the switch off when you aren’t using the products so it conserves power.
2. Rework Your Routine to Avoid Peak Demand
In the summer and in hot climates, appliances use the most energy during the hottest parts of the day. Cooking on a stove at high noon or running a washing machine at peak hours will make your home event hotter, causing your AC to do more work to compensate.
In winter and in colder climates, this peak demand period is often a bigger concern. With all homeowners on the grid pulling more power for heating during winter freezes, fuel costs rise and energy consumption becomes more expensive.
What can you do to help? A change in routine can help you conserve this energy without any fancy upgrades or maintenance. When the heat is scorching midday or a snowstorm is hitting your home, consider waiting to do laundry or run the dishwasher.
Instead, run your dishwasher in the early morning hours before the heat of the day arrives and do your laundry later in the evening. Little changes to your daily schedule can affect your electricity bill over time — and tweaking your house cleaning routine might help you feel more productive to boot.
3. Energy Efficient Appliances
Ready for an upgrade? Purchase energy-efficient appliances that can help save electricity. The Energy Star program certifies models that consume less energy and support environmental goals. Energy Star rated appliances are 10-25% more efficient than standard options.
There are smaller upgrades you can make, too. Low flow water fixtures are also an asset to lower utility costs. Low-flow showerheads and bath spigots reduce both water and energy consumption.
Your appliances are one of the biggest sources of energy consumption in your home. Make some eco-friendly switches and you’ll see positive changes on your utility bill while making a positive impact on the environment.
4. LED Lights
Your lights are an even easier upgrade for energy efficiency. LED lightbulbs are the easiest and most cost-effective switch to cut costs. LED lightbulbs are long-lasting and draw much less energy than their counterparts. They’re 75% more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last years longer, too.
5. HVAC Check
Your HVAC system routinely cools your home in the summer and heats it in the winter. You should change the air filters regularly and check your HVAC regularly for any faults or issues. These systems require maintenance to run at optimal capacity and distribute clean air throughout your home.
When leaks are undetected or your thermostat has faults, the system will overcompensate and use more electricity than necessary. To save on energy consumption, conduct regular checks and keep your filters rotating. Hire a professional to do regular inspections to reduce energy use continually.
Some lifestyle adjustments can also lessen the impact HVAC has on your utility bills each month. While there’s no need to sacrifice your health and comfort, learning to live with temperatures a few degrees warmer or cooler throughout different seasons can add up over time. Make sure the clothes you wear are weather-appropriate and you adjust the thermostat for extended absences to reduce HVAC uses.
6. Long-Term Switch: Renewable Energy
The most impactful way to reduce your utility bills? Embrace renewable energy options rather than relying fully on fossil fuels.
Solar panels can be pricey, but they are worth the investment if you want to save energy. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to eliminate all electrical supplies from your electric company after transitioning. The sun can’t provide power when it’s dark, so you will still need a form of electricity for nighttime.
Storms and colder weather can also limit the energy you receive from solar panels. Nonetheless, they are an excellent way to conserve energy and be kinder to the environment. Consider installing a solar generator alongside your panels to reduce the chances of a total outage.
What to Do When Your Utility Bill is High
Why is your utility bill so high? Since the warmer climate, inflation and drought are entirely out of our control, it’s normal to feel a little helpless. Seeing such high utility bills cut into your budgets and limit spending can also be disheartening.
Our advice? Don’t fret too much about things not within your reach. Focus on what you can do to cut down on costs and help the environment by living a sustainable lifestyle and making eco-friendly switches that work for your budget and climate.
Worrying won’t get you anywhere — but we can all take steps to ease our personal carbon footprints and tackle our utility bills in the process.
About the Author
Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, where she covers sustainable housing and improved building techniques for readers interested in a greener future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my utility bill so high in the summer?
The summer months mean hotter temperatures in the northern hemisphere. You need to amp up the air conditioning to stay comfortable, which adds to your energy consumption. Additionally, running other appliances at peak daylight hours will increase demand for power while contributing additional heat to your home. This is especially true in regions with hotter climates, where extreme temperatures create more demand for cooling that can strain the power grid. Read the full guide for simple ways to lower your utility bill.
How much is the average electric bill?
The best way to determine average electricity costs is to research your city or state rates. Since different regions have different demand and grid situations, this can vary. On a national level, the average U.S. household spent $122 per month on electricity in 2021. There are many ways to reduce your monthly bill and you will find some great tips in the full article.
What are some easy tips to save money on electric bills?
Our quick overview of energy-efficiency tips:
- Unplug energy-consuming devices or move to a power strip
- Adjust your routine to reduce the power you draw in periods of peak demand
- Upgrade to LED lightbulbs and energy-efficient appliances
- Check your HVAC systems and plug gaps for energy efficiency
Check out the full guide for more info.
Energy.gov: Energy Saver Appliances
U.S. Energy Information Administration: Hydropower Explained