In today’s modern homes, we have plenty of electricity-sucking gadgets and appliances. In fact, we have more now than we ever have before. Imagine the typical home just fifty years ago. The average homeowner in the 1960s certainly didn’t have a dishwasher!

Because of this, the average electricity bill in America continues to reach new heights. How can we keep these costs under control?

If you’re looking for an article to tell you to switch to hand washing your dishes or line-drying your clothes, this isn’t it. You already know about those ways to reduce your electricity usage. And they are great ideas!

But if you’re not doing those already, then you need some energy efficiency tips that will help you make smarter choices with your appliances. After all, you bought those appliances for the conveniences that they provide. You should be able to enjoy them.

Fortunately, there is one very effective way to cut costs. It’s easy to do, and learning how to save energy at home is not just limited to “use the appliances less”.

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Instead of looking at the usage itself, take a look at the clock.

That’s right: when you use your appliances is almost as important as how often you use them. By simply adjusting the time of day when you run the electricity-hogging gadgets and appliances, you can cut the cost of your energy usage by as much as 50%!

That number might be enough to get you to sit up and take notice. “Fifty percent? Let’s do it! When is the best time to run the dishwasher to save energy? Or when is the best time to do laundry to save energy?

Here is the secret: you probably want to run these appliances at night.

Energy is more expensive during peak hours.

Many utility companies today employ what are called “peak hours”. During those times, the rates are a bit higher than they are during off-peak hours. Why? Because when people are typically using the most electricity, the power grid is under an enormous amount of pressure. The cost of running and maintaining the grid is higher during this time, so your rates go up.

Think about it: nearly everyone will run their dishwasher or washing machine during the same blocks of time every day. Typical peak hours include right after lunch or when people get home from work.

Does this match your daily routine? Are you usually ushering in the afternoon by loading up the dishwasher from the breakfast and lunch dishes? You’re not alone.

Studies have shown that the best time to do laundry to save electricity is waiting until after 7pm. The nighttime hours are usually easier on the power grid, so the cost of electricity is much less - as much as 50% less.

And that doesn’t mean you need to pull an all-nighter just to get the wash done. This off-peak block of time runs until about noon the next day. So you have a rather sizable window to run your appliances while still saving money.

Wondering if your utility company offers peak hours? Visit your utility company’s web site, and you should see tips on when the best time to run appliances can be. Many companies offer “time of use” rates as an option, and can be one source of tremendous savings on your bill.

Use off-peak hours to save on cooling costs.

Here’s where you can easily multiply your savings.

Now you know that the rate you are charged to run your appliances could be lower at night, you might already be motivated to set your schedule and move your heavy appliance usage to the evening. That’s great - and you’re going to enjoy some big savings that way right off the bat.

But did you know that this has another effect on your home energy usage?

In summertime, running large appliances can be brutal on your comfort levels. Dishwashers, washing machines, dryers - these all can throw off a significant amount of heat into the air. If it’s already warm inside, heavy appliance usage is going to raise the thermostat at least a few more degrees.

Not only that, but some appliances - like the dishwasher, especially - also add humidity in your kitchen air.

These are necessary after effects, of course. That humidity means your dishes are getting dry. The same goes for the heat that comes from your dryer. And the washing machine is going to do a better job on certain loads of clothing if it’s using hotter water.

Plus, all the machinery that powers these appliances will give off its own heat, emitting more stuffiness into the air.

If you run an air conditioner in the summer, you’re probably already trying to find ways to keep your house more comfortable. Having these appliances running is like pitting them against the air conditioner - and the air conditioner will have to work twice as hard to keep things cool and comfortable.

By keeping your appliance usage to nighttime, you’re picking a time of day when the air outside isn’t quite as hot, usually. So it’s easier to keep the house at a comfortable level, even while you have appliances running.

If the air conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard, you save even more money off of your bill.

Another way to understand this: how to chart your bill.

All of these tips are great in theory, but the only way to really put them to use is by opening up your latest energy bill and seeing for yourself.

The most effective way to understand the cheapest time of day to run your gadgets is by analyzing the results. But the electric bill often is loaded with terms and numbers that make analysis rather confusing.

To avoid being overwhelmed, just remember these three key terms: “on”, “part”, and “off”.

When you look at your electric rates, these terms will be used to pinpoint the best rate. Your lowest rate will be labeled in the “off” category.

But how do you use that number? You won’t be able to open your bill and see a line item for how much of your bill was due to your dishwasher, of course. But if you keep a diary for one month and chart your usage - how often you run the dishwasher and what times of the day you run it, you can then start understanding the actual cost of running your appliances.

Older appliances? Double up.

Finally, here’s one more tip that can really maximize your savings.

If you have a dishwasher and washing machine that are more than ten years old, you might be able to save more money by reducing the load on your water heater.

How do you do that? By running your hot water appliances simultaneously. If it’s possible to do that in your home, you won’t force your water heater to fill and heat water twice - another chance for a potential 50% savings off your energy usage!

It doesn’t take much effort to adjust your habits to take advantage of peak and off-peak hours. Do so and you could see huge savings on your electric bill.