Here are some ways to monitor and reduce your electricity usage with some smart gadgets, 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, but will save electricity. This tip works for most dishes, but there are a few exceptions.
If you live in an area of the world where it's summer right now -- or just hot on a regular basis -- be sure to run your ceiling fan. Using a ceiling fan can make a room feel 10 degrees cooler and uses 10 percent of the energy of a central air conditioner, according to the US National Resource Defense Council. Here are some more energy-saving tips for keeping cool.
Dimming your lights reduces wattage and output, which helps save energy, according to the US Department of Energy. Some dimmers, like the Leviton Bluetooth dimmer or the GE Bluetooth Smart Switch can even be controlled by an app, making them even better at saving electricity. The app allows you to control the lights no matter where you are, so you can turn off or dim a forgotten light when you're away. 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 than you think? This $50 item may be the answer. The Belkin's WeMo Insight is a little gadget that plugs into your wall and monitors how much electricity whatever you plug into it uses. The findings may just inspire you to unplug or upgrade your energy-sucking appliances. By using an Insight, CNET's Jason Cipriani saved $840 a year on his electricity bill. Here's how he did it.
If you don't want to check one thing at a time, you can go large. Your circuit breaker panel is the hub for all of the power going through your house, and it can tell you a lot about where all your electricity goes. You can add devices such as the Neurio or Ecoisme to your circuit breaker so that you can monitor every power user in your home. More knowledge about where your electricity goes is a big step toward saving it.
Think you're saving electricity by putting gadgets on standby? While standby saves more money than leaving electronics on, it still uses a substantial amount of electricity. According to the US Department of Energy, they account for 10 percent or more of your electricity bill. One of the best ways to nix these power wasters is by plugging them into a power strip or a smart outlet like the ConnectSense Smart Outlet or the Insteon On/Off Outlet. Just switch the strip off or use the smart switch app to turn off electricity guzzlers when you go to bed or when you're not home. Learn more about standby 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.
While you're considering a programmable thermostat, check its 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.
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 restart loads because the dishes just won't get clean. Here are some tips on loading your dishwasher properly so that they sparkle every time.
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.
Switching your shower head to a 2.5 gallon-per-minute (low-flow) shower head and taking a 10-minute shower not only saves you five gallons of water per shower, it also saves you up to $145 each year in electricity, according to Energy Star.