If the recent increase in energy costs has made you more aware of the electricity you use on lights, laundry and the cooktop, there are plenty of simple measures you can take to lower your bill.
Dishwashers may use electricity, but they save more energy, money, water and time than hand washing.
According to the California Energy Commission, using an Energy Star-qualified dishwasher instead of hand washing can save you 5,000 gallons of water and $40 in utility costs each year, on average, not to mention 230 hours of your time.
Opt-out of the heat-dry cycle on your dishwasher. Instead, crack open the door and let your dishes air-dry. If your dishwasher has an air-dry option, use that instead of heat-dry.
Air drying plates can reduce your dishwasher's energy use by 15% to 50%, according to the California Energy Commission.
These dishwasher tips won't save electricity if you have to repeat loads because the dishes just won't get clean. That's why you need to make sure you load the dishes correctly.
For example, you should place plates in the bottom rack, bowls on the top rack, make sure cups are upside down. Pots and other large items should be washed separately.
If you live in an area of the world where the summers are hot, turn on your ceiling fans touching the thermostat. Using a ceiling fan can make a room feel 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler, and a fan uses 10% of the energy that a central air conditioner does, according to the US Natural Resource Defense Council.
If you haven't switched to LED lighting, now is the time. The US Department of Energy says that LED bulbs use at least 75% less energy -- and last 25 times longer -- than incandescent lighting. That equals a lot of savings over time.
If you're constantly following family members from room to room and turning off lights behind them, a simple upgrade can save you time and money. One solution could be motion detectors, like GE's LED Plus lineup or Ring's smart outdoor lights.
They turn on when they sense someone's in the room and turn off when no movement is detected.
According to the California Energy Commission, if you turn off the burner early, the stove will release enough heat to finish up whatever you're cooking and save electricity. This tip works for most dishes, though there are a few exceptions.
Every time you open an oven door while cooking, the internal temperature can drop 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The oven then has to use more electricity to bring the temperature back up. To save electricity, peek through the window and rely on the oven's light instead of opening the door.
If you're heating or cooking something small, use a smaller appliance like your microwave or toaster oven. They use substantially less electricity than the oven.
Related reading: Yes, an Air Fryer Can Save You Money on Your Energy Bill
Dimming your lights reduces wattage and output, which helps save energy, according to the US Department of Energy.
Some dimmer switches can be controlled by an app, like the Lutron Caseta In-Wall Wireless Smart Lighting Kit, giving you even more ways to adjust your lights and save electricity from wherever you are.
Be sure to get bulbs that work with dimmer switches, though.
You may think that your electronics and appliances are energy-efficient, but you might be using more electricity than you think.
The TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini is a gadget that plugs into your wall; you can schedule it to turn your electronic devices on and off automatically.
Putting your electronics on standby saves more money than leaving them on 24/7, but it still uses a substantial amount of electricity.
According to the US Department of Energy, electronics on standby account for 10% or more of your electricity bill.
One of the best ways to control these power wasters is by plugging them into a power strip or a smart outlet like the TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip.
Just switch the strip off or use the smart switch's app to turn off electricity guzzlers when you go to bed or you're not home.
Still have that thermostat from the 1970s? Switch it out with a programmable thermostat such as the Nest, Ecobee or Honeywell. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, switching to a programmable thermostat can save you save up to 10% on cooling and heating costs.
Here's a list of the best thermostats you can get right now.
While you're considering a programmable thermostat, check your current thermostat's location. It could be on the wrong wall.
Drafts, direct sunlight and other factors can trigger your AC or furnace to kick on when it doesn't need to. Here's the perfect place to put your thermostat.
The California Energy Commission says that dryers use approximately 6% of a home's total electricity usage. You can help your dryer work more efficiently by keeping it clean, and emptying the lint trap after each load is one of the most important things you can do to stop a dryer from working harder than necessary.
Start using cold water when you wash laundry. Why? Because 90% of the electricity used to wash a load goes toward heating the water, according to Consumer Reports.
The Alliance to Save Energy also says washing clothes in cold water can save you $63 a year on electricity bills. Most detergents are designed to work better in cold water, anyway, so this is an easy swap to make.
Older appliances aren't as energy-efficient as they could be. For example, Energy Star estimates that a washer over 10 years old could cost you around $190, on average, per year.
Switch out your dryer while you're getting a washer. Your old dryer could be wasting 20% more energy than a newer, Energy Star-certified model.
Giving your clothes an extra spin in the washer can save up to half the drying time. Here are some more ways to save electricity on laundry day.
Switching to a 2.5-gallon-per-minute (low-flow) showerhead and taking a 10-minute shower not only saves you 5 gallons of water over taking a bath, it also saves up to $145 each year in electricity, according to Energy Star.
The air ducts in your home could be costing you big bucks. Ducts with holes, clogs and leaks can lose around 20% of the HVAC's efficiency. Have your ducts looked at by a professional if you have any of these problems.
You may not be able to convert your whole home to solar power, but there are a bunch of small ways you can incorporate it into your life. Here are other small ways you can go solar.
For more information, check out the best energy-saving devices to keep your utility bills down.