If living in self-quarantine has made you well aware of the extra electricity you've been using on lights, laundry and the stovetop, there are plenty of simple measures you can take to lower your electric 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, on average, 5,000 gallons of water and $40 in utility costs each year, not to mention 230 hours of your time.
Opt-out of the heat-dry cycle on your dishwasher. Instead, open the door just a crack and let your dishes air-dry. Or, if your dishwasher has an air-dry setting, use it.
The air-dry setting can reduce your dishwasher's energy use by 15 percent to 50 percent, according to the California Energy Commission.
Of course, 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 they're loaded correctly.
For example, you should place plates in the bottom rack, bowls on the top rack, make sure cups are upside down and larger pots should be washed separately.
If you live in an area of the world where the summers are hot, turn on your ceiling fans before you touch your thermostat. Using a ceiling fan can make a room feel 10 degrees cooler and a fan uses just 10 percent of the energy that a central air conditioner does, according to the US Natural Resource Defense Council.
Here are some more energy-saving tips for keeping cool.
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 percent less energy -- and last 25 times longer -- than incandescent lighting. That equals a lot of savings!
Here's a guide for the best LED light bulb for every room in your house.
If you're constantly following family members from room to room, turning off lights behind them, you need to update. 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 then turn themselves off when no movement is detected.
Here are some ways to monitor and reduce your electricity usage with some smart gadgets and upgrades, and a few easy tricks.
According to the California Energy Commission, if you turn off the burner early, the stove will still release enough heat to finish up whatever you're cooking and will save electricity. This tip works for most dishes, though there are a few exceptions.
Every time you open your oven door, the internal temperature can drop 25 degrees. Then, your oven has to use more electricity to bring the temperature back up. To save electricity, peek through the window and rely on your oven's light instead of opening the door.
Dimming your lights reduces wattage and output, which helps save energy, according to the US Department of Energy.
Some dimmer switches, like the Lutron Caseta In-Wall Wireless Smart Lighting Kit, can even be controlled by an app, making them even better at saving electricity.
Be sure to get bulbs that work with dimmer switches, though.
You may think that your electronics and appliances are energy-efficient, but are you using more electricity than you think?
The TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini is a little gadget that plugs into your wall that you can use to turn electronics on and off.
Putting your electronics on standby saves more money than leaving them on. Remember, though, standby still uses a substantial amount of electricity.
According to the US Department of Energy, electronics on standby account for 10 percent 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 when you're not home. Learn more about standby energy waste here.
Still have that thermostat that looks like it's 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 percent 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 percent of a home's total electricity usage. You can help your dryer work more efficiently by keeping it clean. Always cleaning the lint trap after every load is one of the most important things you can do. Here's more on how to deep-clean your dryer and your dryer vent.
Start using cold water when you wash laundry. Why? Because 90 percent 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 your electricity bill. Most detergents are designed to work better in cold water, anyway.
Older appliances aren't as energy-efficient as they could be. For example, Energy Star estimates that on average a washer over 10 years old could cost you around $190 a year.
However, we understand that now isn't the best time to invest in new large appliances due to the unemployment spike caused by the novel coronavirus.
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 percent of the AC's and furnace'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. For example, this Addtop Portable Solar Power Bank can make and store up to 25,000mAh of power for recharging your gadgets. Here are some more small ways to go solar.
For more information, check out the best energy-saving devices to keep your utility bills down.