Electricity costs are something that we all want to minimize. No one wants to receive an expensive electricity bill. The good news is that you have more control over the outcome of your bill than you may think. We often forget that it is our own actions (or lack thereof) that, at least in part, determines the final amount listed on the invoice.
We’ve all heard of the age-old tips to avoid over-using electricity. “Turn off the lights when you’re not in the room,” “Don’t go to sleep with the TV on,” and “Unplug your appliances,” among others. These tips are helpful, but you can do even more to minimize your costs.
Here are 5 ways that you can be proactive in order to reduce the cost of the electric bill for your condominium:
- Get an energy audit
An energy audit helps you to pinpoint exactly where energy is consumed the most in your unit. Obtaining an energy audit can show you where you need to either reduce energy usage, replace appliances that consume too much energy due to inefficiency (for example, old refrigerators that have to work very hard to do their job), or update electrical work within your condo unit that may be causing energy leaks.
- Weatherize your home
While an energy audit is specifically geared toward evaluating the electrical components in your unit, weatherizing focuses on external elements and how they affect your condominium’s interior. When the outside elements leak into your unit (for example, cold air coming through a window in the winter), your energy rates will go up as your heating systems work to fight against those elements. Common “problem areas” found in a review often include:
- Windows and doors that aren’t sealed tightly enough. These doors and windows may need to be refitted or incorporate caulking and weather stripping to keep the outside elements from coming inside.
- Fireplaces, because they can allow cold exterior air to enter the unit through the chimney exhaust.
- Electrical outlets and switches since their installation requires a hole in the wall, which can allow a draft to occur. This issue can easily be solved using a foam insulation kit.
- Under-insulated pipes, which causes your HVAC system to work harder to heat and cool your water pipes.
- Energy efficient window treatments
Windows have a major impact on the cost required to heat and cool a condominium. Heat passes through the windows in the summer and causes your A/C to work overtime. During the winter, cold air passes through the windows and reduces the interior temperature of your unit. While replacing older windows with newer energy-efficient models will significantly decrease the amount of energy that is able to pass through the window panes, there are also some less-expensive options worth considering.
Window treatments can add style to the interior of your condo and also serve to make your unit more energy efficient. Drapes, blinds and shades can help to insulate your windows and keep out cold air in the winter and hot air in the summer. Installing exterior awnings and overhangs can also help to shield your windows from the outside elements and minimize the amount of energy transferred through the glass. These modifications help to reduce the load on your heating and cooling systems, which directly impacts your energy bill.
- Get rid of phantom energy loads
A phantom load is caused by an appliance or other electrical item that uses energy even when it is turned off. To prevent this slow seep of energy from blasting your energy bill, you can install power strips and turn them off when you are not using the connected items. “Smart” power strips are also available that turn off automatically when not in use to prevent phantom loads.
- Tidy up
Yes, cleaning can help to reduce your electric bills. There are several places in the home that when cleaned will help your appliances and utilities work more efficiently. When appliances work efficiently, they use less electricity. Here are a few examples:
- Clean out the lint trap in your dryer prior to starting each load.
- Change the filters in your furnace regularly.
- Clean your refrigerator coils.
- Clean out the sediment that builds up in your hot water heater.