According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, energy use for air conditioning has doubled since 1980, and U.S. households currently plug in more appliances and electronics at home than ever before. Natural gas and electricity are the most-consumed energy sources in homes as the home electronics market is constantly innovating new products integrating to our modern lifestyle. While certain appliances have long been standard in homes, such as refrigerators, stoves, and cooking equipment, owning other appliances like dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers has increased over the past 30 years. One reason for high utility bills may be due to unawareness of energy use that could be easily avoided. Although it is almost impossible to completely eliminate any of these three from your utility bill, there are several methods to assist in reducing utility costs:
- Turn off lights when you are not using them
- Unplug chargers while not charging
- Increase/decrease the temperature of your thermostat by a couple degrees depending on the season
- Use natural energy such as sunlight for lighting
- Wash clothes in cold water
- Hang-dry clothes instead of machine drying them
- Replace traditional incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs
Being aware of your energy usage may be the greatest step you can take to help lower your utility costs!
Written by Rex Wang, Financial Wellness for College Students Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension.
Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, Consumer Economics Educator, University of Illinois Extension.