Contributed by Maine Credit Unions
At the beginning of 2022, Maine citizens saw a sizable increase in the cost of electricity. In 2023, Mainers who will be getting their electricity from one of the state’s two major distributors will see yet another increase in their monthly electric bills. Customers of Central Maine Power will see a 49% rate increase and customers of Versant Power will see a 34% increase. Along with electricity rates, the prices of goods and services seem to have been increasing across the board. To help offset the price hikes, here are five tips that can help people reduce their energy usage:
Change light bulbs
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED light bulbs use at least 75% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent lighting, or traditional light bulbs. Many LEDs can last an average of 25,000 hours before they need to be replaced, while incandescent bulbs only last 750 hours. LED light bulbs usually cost more to purchase, but make up that difference in savings. And sometimes their cost is lowered by subsidies from agencies, such as Efficiency Maine. In terms of energy usage, it would cost approximately $240 to light an incandescent bulb for 25,000 hours, but only $40 for an LED.
Unplug what’s not in use
Some electronic gadgets never truly power off. Instead, they sit in a standby mode that uses small amounts of power at all times. This includes gadgets with digital displays, clocks, timers, or lights, such as microwaves, televisions, or coffee makers. Consider unplugging them when they’re not in use to save power. To avoid the hassle of plugging and unplugging a gadget with each use, consider investing in a smart power strip. These strips cut off the electrical current to devices when they aren’t in use. While the upfront cost is around $25, the savings will add up over time and the power strip will pay for itself.
Only run appliances when they’re full
Whether it’s a washing machine, clothes dryer, or dishwasher, only running the appliance when it’s full will save on the electric bill. The more an appliance is used, the more energy is being used – ultimately increasing the power bill. To save even more energy during appliance use, can set the washing machine to wash with cold water instead of hot. Heating up that water draws a lot of energy. People could even opt to not run the dryer, but air dry clothing on a line instead.
It’s no secret that energy costs can become very expensive when the temperatures drop. Investing in home improvements now can save a lot of money in the long run. Around 25% of the warm air in a house or apartment is lost due to leaks and holes. For every $1,000 spent on heating, that’s like having $250 escape out of the drafty areas of the home. Consider caulking around windows, door frames, and electrical outlets – wherever a draft may be. While caulk may cost upwards of $10 now, it can save much more than that over time. Also, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning the thermostat down 10 degrees overnight, while sleeping, can save 10% on electric heating bills. Because people are curled up in bed with their blankets, their body heat may keep them warm enough to justify turning down the heat. Another option is to turn down the heat in rooms that aren’t often used, such as guest rooms and storage areas.
Reverse ceiling fan operation
While many people think ceiling fans are only used to make rooms cooler, they can also be used for heat. Most fans are set to spin in a counterclockwise rotation, which forces the room air down quickly and gives a cooling effect. However, the direction of ceiling fans can be reversed. Because heat rises, the air around the ceiling is typically warmer than the air closer to the floor. While in reverse mode, letting the fan run on low will gently draw the room air up towards the ceiling, which slowly forces the warm air down. The minimal cost to run a ceiling fan is much lower than the cost of generating extra heat to warm a home or apartment.
To ask questions about the costs of electricity or for assistance, visit the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s website at www.maine.gov/mpuc/consumer-assistance/electricityhelp.