Utility bills can be a large part of your budget, but thankfully there are at least 101 ways to lower the amount that you spend on your various utilities. One of my favorite ways to save on electricity is to take advantage of the credit programs offered by the local electricity provider. While each provider will have different plans, most electricity companies have some sort of energy-saving incentives. These incentive programs are usually aimed that the hot summer months when the electric capacity is stretched by air conditioning needs.
For example, lets look at the two programs offered by my current electricity provider (BGE, in central Maryland). The big savings program is called Peak Rewards, and it allow the company to cycle your air conditioning on and off on days of highest need. You can select 50%, 75%, or 100% cycling, and you can earn $50, $75, or $100 per summer. Plus, you get an equal sized bonus the first summer that you are enrolled, so up to $200 the first summer. Average summers have a handful of days where the company utilizes the program. We were enrolled in this program last time we lived in this area, and I never even noticed when they were cycling the air conditioning off.
Our local company's second program is called Smart Energy Rewards. When they anticipate a high-demand day, they notify customers by email that they will be offering credits for keeping your energy usage low on the high-demand days. The credits are calculated based upon the decrease in usage vs. an average day. So, you can be sure to keep lights off, and run dishwashers, clothes washers and clothes dryers in the evening after the hot part of the day is over. If you are enrolled in both programs, you will get the larger of the two credits, depending on your usage.
Chances are, your energy provider has similar savings programs. Check out their website or give them a call to figure out ways to lower your bill through credits for reduced usage on high-demand days. It's a great way to save a little money and do good for the environment at the same time.