Silence is rare in the Bernard household. Usually their three young boys — Logan, Preston and Owen — are zapping mom and dad’s energy.
Peter and Julie Bernard aren’t very energy-conscious until that time of the month when the bill arrives.
“We try to be mindful of the temperature but we want to be comfortable,” Peter Bernard said. “The thermostat is difficult to configure and so it’s kind of more convenient just to leave it at a particular setting than to raise it or lower it.”
Want help cutting energy costs? Join Ben Bixby, the founder of MyEnergy.com in a live Facebook chat here at 7 p.m. ET today.
Their energy bills can be a scorcher, $3,000 this year alone. Julie Bernard said they definitely have opportunities to be more mindful of their energy use.
“I think we are conscious of teaching the kids to turn off the lights when they’re not in the room,” she said.
Ben Bixby, founder of MyEnergy.com and director of energy products for Nest Learning Thermostat, says the Bernards are getting burned and the company has several tips they can use to lower those bills.
Tip #1: Go to MyEnergy.com to compare your energy usage with others in your town.
“In June, Julie and Peter spent $252 on electricity. And that’s relatively high compared to some other people in the neighborhood,” Bixby said.
Bixby also found nearly $1,000 in savings — hidden money — around their house with tips that only take them seconds.
Tip #2: If heating and cooling are the bulk of your bill, replace an old thermostat with a self-programming Nest Learning Thermostat. It learns a family’s habits and got the Bernards $173 back this year. It will pay for itsself by next year.
“It knows when you come home and when you leave,” Bixby said. “It notices when you turn the temperature up and down. It tries to figure out why and what’s going to make you the most comfortable.”
When the Bernards are away, they can control Nest with their iPhone.
Tip #3: Turning down your water heater just 20 degrees can save big. It saved the Bernards $100.
Tip #4: Wash your clothes with cold water. The Bernards do 14 loads of laundry a week but if they used cold water, it could get them $384 a year, Bixby said. Good Housekeeping magazine says it gets your clothes just as clean.
Tip #5: Switch your air filter every two to three months. The Bernards replaced the filters on their air conditioning when their new Nest system advised them to, and it got them $25.
Tip #6: Unplug devices you’re not using. Reliably taking devices such as game consoles, coffee makers and chargers off standby to the off or unplugged position saved the Bernards $102.
Tip #7: Switch incandescent and halogen lightbulbs to LEDs. They’re pricey but they’ll pay for themselves by next year. This got the Bernards $103.
Using all of these tips, the Bernards were able to plug an extra $887 into their budget this year.