6 Smart Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill, According to Real Estate Pros

published Jan 12, 2023
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If you dread opening up your electric bill these days, you’re not alone. Between inflation, bitterly cold weather, the war in Ukraine, and other factors, energy prices are surging — and homeowners and renters are starting to feel it in their wallets.

To help ease some of this strain, I turned to real estate experts for their best tips and advice on how to lower the electric bill. Here’s what they had to say. 

(Most, if not all, of these recommendations have the added benefit of making your home more energy efficient, which means you’ll be lowering your environmental impact while also saving money. A win-win!)

Turn on Your Ceiling Fans

Most ceiling fans have a small switch that changes the direction of the fan blades. In the winter, spend a few seconds fiddling with the ceiling fans in your house so the blades rotate clockwise, suggests Kelly Moye, a real estate agent in Colorado. This simple tweak will help make each room feel warmer, thus saving your furnace or heater from having to work as hard.

“Heat rises and when the ceiling fans go clockwise, they push the heat down instead of letting it settle up into the ceiling,” she says.

Change Your Furnace Filter

You can help your furnace run more efficiently — which will save you money in the long run — by changing the filter regularly, says Moye. You can find lots of YouTube videos showing you exactly how to do this, and you can typically find filters at home improvement stores starting at around $10 apiece.

“It needs to be changed every month in the winter,” she says. “When there is proper airflow through the furnace, it doesn’t have to work as hard to heat the house. Most people forget that they need to be changed as often as they do.”

Program Your Thermostat

Take the time to program your home’s thermostat so you’re not wasting energy during the times of day or days of the week when it’s OK for your home to be a little chillier. For instance, if you leave your house and head to work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, you might turn the temperature down a few degrees during the day, then bump it back up to a more comfortable level around the time you get home. Similarly, you might turn down the heat a few degrees at night while you’re sleeping.

If you travel a lot or you have a long commute, consider installing a smart thermostat that you can control from your phone, says Scott Bergmann, a real estate agent in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Installing a smart thermostat can save you a lot of money and also make your home more comfortable,” he says. “These are perfect for people who are away from home for long periods of time.” 

Get an Efficiency Audit

Do some research online and look for local energy companies or sustainability nonprofits that offer free or cheap energy audits, suggests Dj Olhausen, a real estate agent in San Diego. When you schedule one, a trained professional will come to your house and evaluate its energy efficiency from top to bottom, paying special attention to insulation, air leaks, appliances, windows, and other elements.

The U.S. Department of Energy also offers tips for running a DIY energy audit on your own house, which is totally free.

“Double-check if windows are air sealed to avoid wasting air conditioning or heat,” suggests real estate agent Augusto Bittencourt.

Use Smaller, Localized Heating and Cooling Systems

Running the air conditioner or heater to adjust the temperature throughout your home can get expensive. If you spend a lot of time in one room — say, a home office — consider investing in a portable air conditioner unit or a space heater to help keep that room comfortable.

“These are great ways to control the climate of an individual room, rather than wasting electricity on a whole house,” says Olhausen.

Consider Solar Panels and Other Big Upgrades

If you can afford it, consider investing in solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, newer windows, upgraded siding, and other pieces of your home’s infrastructure, suggests real estate broker Mihal Gartenberg

“Homeowners must consider the cost/benefit before embarking on such updates,” she says. 

Spending money now should pay off later if you eventually sell your house. You can also sometimes find rebates or tax credits for these types of updates, with a little digging. Also keep in mind that the new federal infrastructure bill, signed into law by President Joe Biden in August, includes lots of money for home upgrades, so keep an eye out for more details in the near future. 

Even if big changes like these aren’t in the budget, you can still make smaller, more affordable swaps. Bittencourt recommends swapping in LED bulbs, which you can change out one lamp at a time if you need to.

And real estate agent Marie Bromberg recommends adding solar-powered lights to the garden and stashing solar power banks around your house to recharge your laptop. There are also lots of other