Electric Bill Hacks: Separating the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
2017 is the year of the “life hack,” and it seems none of us are safe from this fad. Instagrammers, YouTubers, and bloggers are filling our screens with hacks for everything from cooking to hygiene—many of which are not very accurate. If you’ve ever been sucked into trying a foundation tool or a recipe hack that actually makes your job a whole lot more difficult, you understand the struggle. There seems to be no end to the madness.
This trend has even infiltrated into the utility industry, with posts on “hacking your utility bill” showing up everywhere from Huffington Post to Thought Catalog. Everybody with a blog has capitalized on this buzzword, posting hundreds of hacks that are basically variations on a theme: some work, some don’t, and some are just plain dangerous.
At Liberty Power, we’re determined to break the mold and make sure our customers know the truth, especially when it comes to safe and environmentally beneficial ways to reduce your electricity usage. We’ve laid out the good, the bad, and the ugly so that you can make informed decisions about any electric bill “hacks” you choose to attempt in your own home.
Electric Bill Hacks that Really Work
If you’re looking for behavior changes and gadgets that will actually help lower your electricity usage, you’ve come to the right place. These hacks are tested, tried, and true. You can feel confident using these surefire ways to monitor or reduce your electricity usage:
Run Your Appliances At Night
This is not just an old wives’ tale or the annoying thing that your mother did while you were growing up. Most electric companies’ rates fluctuate based on demand. There are peak times when energy is most expensive—and 9 p.m. is not one of those times. Running your dishwasher or laundry machines during the dark hours lets you take advantage of the lower, non-peak rate.
Invest in a Smart Plug
Have you tried to determine exactly how much electricity your Wi-Fi router or computing power strip wastes while you’re not using them? Try using a wattmeter to shake things up. This smart technology monitors your usage from a particular outlet and can even be controlled via smartphone. Now you can turn off your TV from work, the beach, or even a plane. You’re welcome.
Convert to LED Bulbs
We honestly can’t say this enough. They’re expensive to buy at first, but you’ll likely never have to buy another light bulb again. LED bulbs are so much more efficient than even compact fluorescents—wasting 75% less energy and lasting 25 times longer than regular incandescent bulbs—that they deserve a spot in your home.
Use a Smart Electricity Monitor
If you’re really into analyzing your household electricity use, you should definitely look into getting a home energy monitor. This lets you view your energy usage on any device and can help you track any spikes down to the hour or even minute. That’s some serious data analysis at your fingertips, and you can alter your household behavior to minimize every single spike that you see.
Bad Electric Bill Hacks You Should Avoid
Unlike those listed above, other hacks are just bad. There are plenty of electric bill hacks that you’ll want to discard at first sight. As disappointing as it sounds, pretty much every “DIY” gadget you can come up with to potentially lower your electric bill is just a waste of your time.
Don’t use blankets, foil, or other DIY window covers. This is not your college dorm room, and makeshift window coverings should officially stay in your past. Blankets and sheets hung in front of your windows don’t block significant light or heat and actually end up letting in quite a lot through the “cracks.” If you have a real problem with a thermal leak, invest in some caulk and if you want to keep the sun out, get regular blackout curtains and be done with it. Blackout curtain fabric is specially designed to block UV rays and does a far better job of keeping your rooms dark and cool than a flimsy sheet.
Please don’t surround your meter with tin foil. There are pictures of this “hack” all over the internet, and at first glance, this seems like a pretty good idea. Protecting your meter from the sun and fooling its internal clock should work, right? Wrong. Don’t mess with it. Foil is a conductor and while it may not alter your utility bill, it can most definitely spark an electrical fire.
Completely Ugly (and Dangerous) Electric Bill “Hacks”
Going even further, we want to caution you against electric bill hacks that are actually dangerous and illegal. Here’s a brief but helpful directive: anytime you see the words “trick your electric meter,” you’ll want to run far away. Pretend that blog post is a zombie that’s going to ruin your entire day. Any amount of tampering with your electric meter is highly illegal and can be severely dangerous. Let me say it again: this is illegal behavior. It’s not a hack—it’s a hefty fine or a court date.
Here’s what exactly to avoid: videos and blog posts that recommend using magnets, sugar water, or hole-piercing with your meter as sure-fire methods to fool your utility company. But these ideas are as illegal as they are ridiculous. In another vein, computer hackers claim that you can tamper with the firmware or network of a smart meter using a virus or other malware. Again—illegal. Do not attempt. These are the ugliest of all the “electric bill hacks” and should be portrayed as such.
The Biggest Hack Of All
Strategies to lower your electricity usage overall definitely exist, but if rates go up, you’re back to square one. However, there’s an even bigger step you can take to change up your electric bill. Switching your electric company altogether might just be the best hack that nobody’s talking about (yet).
It sounds drastic, but changing energy suppliers can actually be the most effective plan to manage your electric bill. Put the power in your own hands. When you shop the market and switch to a different electricity provider, you stand a chance at getting the best deal on the market—and one that’s significantly better than what you had before. Some companies even offer a fixed-rate plan that keeps the fluctuating market prices from interfering with your pocketbook, ensuring that you pay the same rate every month for the length of your contract—no surprises. Your current provider may not have this option, but it’s a serious game changer. If you’ve been hoping for a more stable electric bill regardless of the season, this is the way to get it. Switching electric companies can make your (billing) dreams come true much faster than trying to incorporate hundreds of hacks into your daily routine.
Contact us to find out more about how partnering with Liberty Power can change your outlook on your electric bill. We offer fixed-rate and market plans at competitive rates that will help you to forget all the hacks you once depended on. Give up the chase and switch to a third-party energy supplier that’s working to save you money, time, and hacking hassle.
Photo Credit: Jason Taellious