11 ways to save on your shocking electric bill

The cost of powering your home and all your assorted appliances and devices can be significant. The price of everything, from running your air conditioner on hot days to charging your phone as you sleep, can add up.

Getting a handle on your electric bill is important. While utility companies don't typically report payments to the main credit bureaus, missing payments could potentially eventually drop your credit score as they can get sent to collections. (You can check two of your scores for free every two weeks on Credit.com).

But you can significantly reduce the electrical energy your home consumes by taking a few simple steps. Here are 11 ways you can lower your electric bill.

1. Perform a Home Energy Audit

Home energy auditors are professionals who come to your home to evaluate your power usage, assessing your home and your past power bills. They'll look for areas where you can increase efficiency. Many electric suppliers provide this service for free, but you can also find a local paid professional.

When the audit is complete, the auditor can recommend energy-saving methods and products.

2. Install Dimmer Switches

The overhead lights in many rooms often provide more illumination than we need. With dimmer switches, you can adjust the amount of light you're using. Modern dimmers also reduce how much electricity lights use.

3. Install Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans circulate air through your home and can cool you off. While they use electricity, they may reduce the workload of your air conditioner.

4. Ward off the Sun

Sunlight coming in through windows can heat up your home and make your air conditioner work harder. You should close the curtains or blinds on your windows when you don't need them open and consider installing tinted window film. (If heating or cooling your home is the main cause of your high electric bills, here's how you can keep temperatures comfortable without spending too much.)

RELATED: Check out these high-paying jobs to help cover the price of your electric bill:

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Investment Banker 
Average Median Salary: $294,892

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Actor 
Potential Salary Earnings: Up to $80 million per movie

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Professional Athlete 
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Entrepreneur 
Average Median Salary: $171,610 

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Air Traffic Controller 
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CPA 
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CEO 
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5. Turn Off Unused Items & Unplug Electronics

Of course, you should shut off all electronics and lights when you leave a room to reduce energy usage. But electronics and appliances can use energy even when they're turned off.

"Gadgets and appliances like TVs, laptops, coffee makers, printers, space heaters and cable boxes continue to suck energy even when turned off," said Andrea Woroch, a consumer finance expert. "Get in the habit of unplugging all these electronics and appliances when you aren't using them. Power strips are an easier and less timely alternative — some even come with a remote control for easier use."

6. Use LED Light Bulbs

LED light bulbs use significantly less energy than incandescent bulbs. While LED bulbs can cost more, they have a longer lifespan, so you could save money on light bulbs in the long run.

7. Replace Your HVAC Air Filters

Air filters keep dust and debris from circulating through your HVAC system and clogging vents and air registers. Over time, these filters get clogged with dust and debris themselves, and your air conditioning system will have to work harder to cool your home. You should swap your air filters out every few months to reduce the energy needed to regulate your home's temperature.

8. Install a Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats reduce energy costs by adjusting your home temperature when you're away, at work or asleep. Your energy usage will be reduced because you won't be wasting electricity cooling an empty home.

"The HVAC system uses the most energy in your home, and running the air conditioner or heater can blow your budget. However, installing a programmable thermostat takes the guesswork out of fiddling with temperatures and allows you to preset temps when you are home or away at work or school so you don't waste energy," said Woroch.

Just be careful. "Smart" thermostats are one of a few household objects that might make you vulnerable to hackers.

9. Solar Panels

If you're looking for big savings and energy reduction, solar panels may be the way to go. Typically installed on the roof, solar panels harvest the sun's energy and convert it into electric power.

"Solar panels continue to improve. The prices of solar panels have become cheaper, their ability to capture the sun's photons and convert them to electricity is becoming more efficient, and the technology is changing as solar shingles emerge as a more mainstream item," said Sage Singleton, home maintenance specialist at Safewise. "The time before payoff on solar panels is also getting shorter — the average rooftop solar system will pay back a homeowner in seven-and-a-half years. The sooner you install your solar panels, the sooner you will see the average savings on your lowered energy bills."

Solar panels might also lower your tax bill.

RELATED: 5 useful hacks to save even more money:

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5. 5 unnecessary tech purchases that cost you money

When you're building a budget, the first thing to look at is non-essentials you can cut. Music, movies, books, apps and other bits of entertainment often fall into that category. However, you might not want to give them up.

The good news is that you don't have to. You can get all of these things for free if you know where to look. Learn how to get these for free, and more tech purchases you might be making that you don't have to.

(Shutterstock)

4. 3 things you're almost guaranteed better deals online 

When online shopping first started, it was a bonanza for saving money. Online stores didn't have to deal with sales tax, a large chunk of typical retail overhead and you could usually find a free shipping offer somewhere.

In recent years, however, brick-and-mortar retailers have evened the odds with price matching and other savings. So you still want to check both for deals before you buy something. However, there are three things you might buy that are almost always going to be less expensive online. Find out what they are and some good sites to find great deals.

(Alamy)

3. 3 secrets to dramatically lower your cable bill

When you're trying to cut non-essentials, your cable bill probably doesn't spring immediately to mind. Even though it's a huge expense every month, many people can't imagine going without their favorite shows.

Just because you're keeping cable, though, doesn't mean you should keep paying full price. Learn three secrets you can use to save big money on your cable bill, plus some cheaper cable alternatives you should consider.

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2. Test whether your ISP is slowing down your connection

Your Internet connection lets you check Facebook, send email, browse the Internet, watch online video, play online games and connects you to the single largest source of information in history. You need it to be fast, and you probably pay a hefty amount to get an Internet plan with decent speed.

But are you actually getting the speed you paid for? If you aren't, then you're just wasting money every month. Find out how fast your connection really is so you know your money is well spent.

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1. 3 secrets to getting the lowest airfare online

One of the biggest travel expenses is the airfare. Even worse, every dollar you're spending on getting to and from your destination is money you can't spend enjoying yourself while you're there. So, finding a cheap flight is definitely something to shoot for.

Fortunately, getting a great deal is easier than you think. You just need to know what sites to use, when to buy and the value of flexibility. Get the full details so you can save big on your next trip.

(Shutterstock)

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10. Look for Energy Provider Programs

Many electric suppliers have programs you can participate in to reduce the cost of your bill. These include rebates for buying energy-efficient appliances, rewards for reducing energy usage during peak hours and programs that spread the cost of your peak usage for months across the year. Visit your energy provider's website or call to find out what programs might be available.

11. Shop for an Alternative Provider

If you have alternative energy providers in your area, you can always shop around to see if you can find a cheaper option.

"One common way that consumers reduce their electric bill is to shop for a new electric supplier. Many states in the U.S. are deregulated, meaning the residential customers can shop for electricity," said Kelly Bedrich, cofounder and president of ElectricityPlans.com. "In these states, homeowners and renters can shop for electricity in the same way you can shop for cable and internet service. By being able to shop for their energy, the homeowners can often save as much as 30% to 40% off of their energy bill simply by switching their supplier."

More from Credit.com:
Financing Your First Investment Property
What Is an Installment Loan?
How to Determine Your Monthly Housing Budget

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

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