What is The Most Cost Effective Way to Save Money on My Power Bill?

My power bill went from $350 last month to $700 this month. Crazy. I thought it was too high last month.

My a/c is over 10 years old so I know I probably need to get a new one. What effeiciency rating has the best bang for the buck? A friend told me 16 because we are in coastal town and rust will eat away to fast and the 20 seer ones. Also what do you think of 2 stage a/c’s?

Also what roof insulation is best. I thought the foam was best but I have also heard it messes with the condensation of the roof. Any thoughts here on insulation for the roof or the attic?

Man, I got to do something I can’t afford a dang beamer payment for my power bill.

Thanks. I sure do appreciate it.

Impossible to say without knowing where you are and what’s consuming your electricity. If, as you imply, it’s the AC, the most cost effective way to save money is to turn up the temperature. You can buy fairly inexpensive meters that you can hook up to an appliance and measure electricity usage. That will give you an idea how much you’re consuming.

I am in a coastal town in South Texas. I also have a pool and hot tub but have had both of these for over a couple of years and my power bill has never been this much.

Are you home during the day? Is your house empty? While it’s not as much help during the summer, I saw remarkable changes in my power bill when we installed a programable thermostat. It would shut off during the day when we weren’t home, then turn on for a couple of hours in the evening. Then off again during the night.

Do you have a two story? Stand alone? Attached garage? Room over the garage? Do you have an attic? Crawlspace? All electric appliances? Do you have just an electric AC, or a heat pump system?

It is split level and the garage is attached. More a a crawl space attic and my wife is home all day keeping it at 74 degrees. :smack: All the appiances are electric except the water heater.

I would suggest using less power. :wink:

If you have the thermostat set at a constant temp, you’re doing better than turning it off and then expecting it to cool the place down. It will have to run less to bring the temp down 2 degrees than 20 from having it off all day. 74 might be a bit low, try 76.

Check your windows and doors. If they are not sealed properly, you’re losing a ton of your AC power right there.

I programmed my thermostats to hold 83 during the day, and 80 at night. Family has finally learned to deal with it (trust me, the human body will survive at those temps). Our electric bill (3K sq ft home) is now roughly what it was last year. Your missus keeping the thermostat at 74 is your biggest problem.

Is it the heat or the humidity? Maybe running a dehumidifier and turning up (down?) the AC would help.

When I turn on the AC, I also pull the blinds and close the curtains. I hate a dark house and the cats miss their spots in the sunlight, but it seems to help.

Speaking as a native to Galveston, you should move. :slight_smile: Seriously, your best bet may lie in ventilating your attic or insulating the roof (Warning: insulating the roof could shorten the lifespan of composition shingles.)

This page explains things better than I could (Joe Lstiburek knows his stuff.) Also, when I went through my house several years ago, the City of Austin engineer that I talked with said that the focus these days emphasised that it was more important to minimize the difference in temperature between the attic and the inside of the house.

This page suggests 3% on your bill per degree of inside temperature. (Other good summertime suggestions on that page, too.)

If your bill has doubled just for usage, not price increase, then you’d have to get the temp up to 100 before you’d drop your bill back to where it was.

It has to be more complex than that.

Have your called your power company and asked why? Have you used that much more energy (kwh) or have prices gone up (or both)?

If it’s just the temperature, you can do a lot with shade, trying to control the light entering the house. Use your curtains & shades to keep the light out. I used a $90 pop-up canopy like this on my back porch to make shade for my west-facing sliding glass door - that was a palpable investment.

In general, double checking for air leaks and insulation is your best investment. If you’re letting all the chilled air out through the window frames and ceiling, you’re just air-conditioning the neighborhood. Colorado recommends ceilings at $40 - that’s just over a foot of cellulose insulation. There’s a neat table of “Myths about insulating” here.

Put CFC bulbs in places where practical (not on dimmers). Not only do CFC’s use less electricity, they run cooler so you’re not heating your house with them. I know my bathroom light bar is capable of adding 10 degrees easily to that room.

Check and see if your power company charges a daytime premium for electricity - sometimes its cheaper to run your dishwasher late at night rather than the daytime (most dishwashers have timers to start after you go to bed).

Just a thought: Check to make sure you don’t have a leaky hot water line. My mother had that situation. In one month she got a $600 bill fors 8600 kWh. Legit reading. The hot water heater was pretty much “on” (and heating water) for most of the month.

The power company will in many places come to your house and give you an energy audit for free or for a low price which will give you suggestions for your specific situation.

Price isn’t a very useful comparison (although of course that’s what you really care about), since the cost of electricity is going up in a lot of places. What was your consumption this month compared to last month?

Check all your major appliances–maybe your fridge isn’t cost effective, or your washer. Is your wife interested in line drying stuff, to cut down on dryer usage?

Look at your habits: do you leave lights on in unoccupied rooms? (minimal, but every bit counts and incandescent lights add heat to a room). What about TVs, radios, puters etc?

I can’t imagine trying to keep a home at 74 in Galveston TX in the summer–that’s really cool (I like it at 74, but we don’t do that here–it’s 76. Right now, our A/C isn’t on due to nice cool Canadian weather, but you don’t have that “luxury”. Sorry!)

Thanks great stuff and links. Appreiciaate it. Thanks for everybody elses input too. this is a good board.

Do you have a fireplace? Did you shut the flue after your last fire this spring? If your chimney draws well then the wind will suck that nice conditioned air right out of your house. To be honest I only say this because I found we’d left our flue open when I heard the air whistling up the chimney in a recent storm.

Dry you clothes on a drying rack rather than in the drying machine. When washing your clothes, use the warm cycle for whites and the cold cycle for darks. The hot cycle wastes an incredible amount of electricity.