Sweltering summers can do a number on your energy bill! With the rise in temperature also comes a rise in your electricity bill.
So if you’re obsessed with keeping your electric bills lower without turning off your air conditioning, here are 12 simple energy-saving strategies to help your home be more energy efficient and save money on your energy bills for years to come.
1. Programmable thermostats. Programmable thermostats can help you save electricity by pre-setting temperatures for the times when you are home and actually need heating or cooling for comfort. Some programmable thermostats can even be controlled remotely by smart phones, giving you the option to change the settings when you’re away if needed. When it’s warm, every degree you choose to raise the thermostat above 78 can reduce your cooling costs by as much as 10%. So keep your home at the highest comfortable temperature possible and turn it up a few degrees before you leave for work or go out of town.
2. Seal up your home. Check for air leaks and insulation sufficiency. There are professionals that you can hire to conduct energy audits and air sealing, or you can do many of these tasks yourself.
3. Check your hot water heater’s thermostat. Water heating is typically a family’s third largest energy expense, accounting for about 14 percent of utility bills. You might want to set your water heater to 120 degrees. The default manufacturer setting for many water heaters is140 degrees, however, 120 degrees is typically sufficient for your water heating needs all year round. Keep in mind, however, many dishwashers – especially the newer models – need 140 degree water, so before you do anything, check the manual. If it indicates that the appliance needs 140 degrees, the next time you buy a dishwasher, you could get one with a booster heater – and then lower your hot water heater’s thermostat to the 120 degree setting.
4. Limit oven use. Any time you use a toaster oven, electric skillet, slow cooker or microwave, you use less energy rather than using the oven. Grill outside or plan to have no-cook dinners several times a week. In addition to saving the energy that your stove or oven will use, you’ll also avoid heating up the kitchen and making your air conditioner work harder.
5. Run your appliances in the evening. Appliances produce heat and will cause your air conditioning to work harder. Check with your local utility company to see if they offer discounted rates for off-peak hours and when those rates apply.
6. Replace your filters. An unchanged air filter means the air-conditioning unit or dryer will work harder or run longer, and – you guessed it – use more energy.
7. Turn off the ceiling fan when you aren’t home. Ceiling fans don’t actually cool your home; they only circulate air to make you feel cooler. Letting the blades spin when you’re gone just adds to your electric bill. However, when you’re home, raise your thermostat a few degrees and use ceiling fans to circulate the cooler air. Ceiling fans use less electricity than air conditioners and are comfortable ways to keep air moving in your home.
8. Check your refrigerator and freezer temperature. The ideal refrigerator temperature runs between 37 and 40 degrees, and the ideal freezer reading is 5 degrees. Any colder, and, well, that’s money you’re wasting. Also, keep your refrigerator and freezer full so they do not have to work as hard to stay cold.
9. Clean your coils. When the coils underneath or behind the refrigerator are covered with dust, the appliance is working harder and costing you more money.
10. Maintain your air conditioning unit. For peak efficiency, it’s important to keep your exterior air conditioning unit well maintained. Remove any leaves, twigs, or debris from around the unit, and clean the coils regularly. Change your air conditioning system filters per manufacturer’s instructions to keep your energy use to a minimum.
11. Use your bathrooms ventilating fan. When you take a shower, turn on the bathroom ventilating fan to remove heat and humidity and to help save on cooling costs.
12. Plant trees. Plant them near your house to create shade, which will eventually cool off your home as the trees grow.
13. Shop Energy Companies. If you live in Texas, use this savings calculator to learn what you should be paying or read your EFL (Energy Facts Label) on your bill. We all have our own energy usage DNA. We all use it differently and at different times. LEARN your usage DNA and shop the best plan according to how much you use.
14. Wash laundry in cold water. Wash and rinse your clothes in cold water instead of hot to save on water heating costs. Use a cold-water detergent.