We all know electricity can give you a shock. But so can looking at your electricity bill. If simply opening your monthly bill fills you with more dread than the thought of swimming with sharks, it may be time to take action.
That action is finding ways to get a discount on your electric bill. This can be done through tax credits, net metering, federal and local programs, using green power, and making your home more energy efficient. Community solar through Perch is another way to save, by racking up energy credits (no rooftop panels required!) that are used to offset your electricity costs.
Don’t fret if it all feels a bit overwhelming. We get into more details on your myriad options below. So sit back, relax, let the shock wear off—and check out how you can start saving money.
Is your high electric bill eating up a good chunk of your paycheck? Many electric companies offer ways to reduce the amount you’ll have to pay for all that gobbling.
While you can certainly hunt, peck and scurry all over the internet trying to find the right info for your electric company and state, you can also make it easy on yourself. Simply head to the Low Income Relief website, which does all the research for you:
The site was created by Nicole Thelin after she and her family experienced their own financial struggle back in 2007. She found she had a knack for research, began doing research for family and friends, and then started the site to help even more people.
Local credits and other assistance may also be available to suit your situation. You’ll find a handful of helpful programs from local agencies and organizations across the U.S.
You can do your own online search for help in your particular city, county or state. Or you can get a jumpstart with a lineup of readymade handy options:
This program may help with heating and cooling bills, shutoffs and other emergency situations, and home weatherization improvements. Get more info:
State social services agencies serve up state benefit programs and more. Select your state to find out what’s offered in your area.
This agency offers a slew of programs to help with everything from eviction issues to utility bills. Different states offer different programs. Find your state to see what may be available for you.
Once you click on your state, you’ll land on a page with a variety of options. Different states have the pages set up slightly different ways. You want to look for: “Help with your utility bills.”
This may be on the first page you come to, or it may be on a subsequent page after clicking “Rental help.”
If clean energy is calling your name, this comprehensive database lists available incentives from all 50 states. Run by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University, the site has been collecting info since 1995. Find programs in your state.
Another way to find help paying your electric bill is to explore what your particular county has to offer. Some of the programs may overlap or be the same as the state programs, but more information is typically better than not enough. Find programs in your county.
If you’re planning to hop on or are already riding the renewable energy bandwagon, you may have tax credits just itching to be used. Tax credits from the federal government may be available for:
Check out the Energy Star website for more details, to see if you’re eligible, and instructions on how to apply.
You can also cut right to the chase and take a look at the instructions for IRS Form 5695, which is the form required for residential energy credits from the federal government.
Got solar? Then you may be a prime candidate for saving money through net metering.
Net metering lets you sell extra power generated by your solar panels back to the utility company in exchange for credits. You can then use the credits toward the cost of any electricity you may need to use from the grid.
The arrangement can be economical, but it comes with the high cost of having solar installed in the first place. Check if your state offers some type of buy-back or net metering program.
This one may or may not discount your electricity bill, depending on your current situation. If you're currently on your utilitity's basic electricity supply plan, you're receiving energy from a mix of non-renewable sources (i.e. fossil fuels) and renewable sources (i.e. solar and wind). Upgrading to 100% "green" power sources could cost a premium—and actually add to your bill.
However, if you are currently on your utility's 100% green energy plan, you might be paying more for that through your utility than if you went and shopped the electricity market yourself. And thus, this could discount your electricity bill.
The same way you can pick your own phone carrier or car insurance company, you may be able to pick your own electricity options. In some states, you can purchase renewable electricity in several ways. Two include:
Some utility companies offer a green pricing option that lets you purchase renewable electricity. You'll likely pay a small premium to cover their additional costs, but you’ll sleep better knowing your electricity is clean and green.
Contact your electric company to see if the option is available.
If your state has a deregulated electricity industry, you may be able to shop around to find a clean power generator that produces electricity using renewable sources. These third-parties may sell to residential as well as commercial and wholesale customers. Buying a clean energy plan through them could be cheaper than going through your utility company.
Find out more by doing an online search for “buy green energy in [your state].” You may run across more info on what’s available, or even a directory of green power generators from which you can choose.
Or, you can skip the research and let Perch help you out! In additoin to community solar, Perch offers residential retail electricity switching services in certain states. Tell us your zip code and we'll check to see if we can serve your area. If so, we'll scour the third-party electricity supply marketplace and find you a low-cost plan based on the energy mix you want. Because shopping for your own electricity can be confusing at times (reading through contracts, watching out for misleading "introductory rates"), Perch handles all this for you and we always have your back.
Another way to support clean energy—while saving money on your electric bill—is by subscribing to a community solar program. No solar panel installation required.
Here’s how it works:
You don’t even need to change electric companies, either, since solar farms are connected to your utility's grid already. Even though you’re not getting direct solar power into your home or business, you’re helping to support solar power in your community—and as a reward in return you save money on your electricity costs.
In addition to saving money on electricity, community solar benefits include:
Dialing down your electricity use will, in turn, dial down your costs. So will making sure your home is using energy as efficiently as possible. You have a batch of energy-saving changes you can make that may add up to make a big difference in your electricity bill.
Grab a pen and a clipboard to do a home energy audit. Home energy audits involve inspecting different areas of your home to see how energy efficient it is (or not). It helps you pinpoint ways you may be wasting energy so you can make changes to correct them.
You can also find the peak and off-peak energy usage times for your area. Every region is different, and some electric companies note this info on your bill. Using energy during off-peak times typically costs less.
When it comes to saving on your electric bill, smart devices are a super smart option. Smart devices refer to doodads designed to decrease energy waste and increase efficiency. Smart devices include:
Some of these devices are so smart, you can use them to control lighting, temperature and other options even when you’re not home.
Sunshine on your shoulder may make you happy – but it can be putting a big strain on your air conditioning unit to cool your home.
Try blackout curtains, shades or blinds to keep the inside of your home cooler without cranking up the AC. Go for even bigger savings with tinted window film.
Your heating and air-conditioning system is one of the biggest energy eaters in your home. Keep it on a lean and efficient diet by having your HVAC system inspected annually and cleaned regularly.
This will ensure the system is delivering its best performance, which helps keep your electric bill lower.
If you still have incandescent bulbs hanging around your light fixtures, make the switch to LED bulbs. Your home lighting plays a notable role in your electric bill, and making LED bulbs the star of the show can save you money, fast.
The average household that uses LED lighting saves about $225 per year.
Heating your water uses oodles of energy. Nothing may beat a hot shower, but you don’t need to take one that lasts half an hour long. Cut down on shower time to cut down on hot water usage.
You can also lower the temperature on your water heater, making sure its set between 120° Fahrenheit and 130°F for greatest efficiency. One more tip? Use an insulation jacket on your water heater, and even insulate the piping that comes off of the heater for additional energy savings.
Appliances are another culprit for high energy prices. Although there’s a bit of an outlay, upgrading to high-efficiency appliances can pay off big time in the long run. This particularly holds true if any of your home appliances have hit the 10 year mark. Energy Star-certified products are the way to go here.
Using less electricity is not only good for your bill, but it’s good for the environment, especially if that electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels.
For even more actionable cost-saving tips, check out our Ultimate Guide to Saving On Your Electric Bill.
Using these resources and tips to discount your electricity bill can result in both a happier home and happier planet.
Your home is happier since you’re no longer dedicating a major portion of your income just to keep the electricity running. Ideally, the cost for all your utility costs should be no more than 8% to 10% of your monthly income.
The planet is happier since you are using less energy—or even green energy—in the most effective and efficient way. This means less use of fossil fuels, less pollution, and more feel-good vibes all around.