Blasting the air conditioner, watching television, running the pool pump, constantly blending margaritas—the list of things that can drive up your energy bills during the summer is endless. However, if you know some tricks to lower your usage, you won’t feel too bad about a little indulgence!
Don’t just turn off, but also unplug any devices not in use. This includes your computer, TV and other electronic devices that don’t need power when sitting unused. Electronics like these use a relatively small amount of electricity constantly, which adds up over time. If accessing their outlets is a problem, invest in a smart strip that stops power from running to devices when they’re not in use.
Ceiling fans keep the air circulating in your home, which makes you feel cooler because of the air moving over your skin. Take advantage of this during the summer. If the temperature is comfortable enough, try leaving windows and vents open during the evening and running fans to let the outside air circulate and cool the house.
Check areas of your home such as attics, cabinets and closets where holes through the drywall may be found. Use spray foam insulation to fill any holes that could be causing cool air to leak out of your home during the summer.
Lights generate unnecessary heat, especially if it’s during the day when natural light already lights your home. Switch off any lights that you are not using in your home. Consider installing dimmers for your lights to control the amount of light they emit based on the time of day.
With an air conditioning unit, it’s important to ensure that the system is running efficiently and not wasting energy. Checking and replacing dirty air filters (every three months, at least), cleaning the outside unit of grass or debris and making sure there are no leaks should be on your checklist during this inspection. Have your system inspected by a professional once a year.
Most of us are out of the house during the day for work or other functions. If you know you won’t be home, set your thermostat to automatically turn up to a higher temperature during the time you’re out of the house. Keep all blinds and curtains shut to keep the cool in and keep heat out. But don’t turn the thermostat off – increasing the temperature of your home too much can make your air conditioner work extra hard to cool it back down. Your walls and furniture will absorb and release heat for hours, so just turn the thermostat up a few degrees for maximum efficiency.
After refrigerators, clothes dryers and water heaters tie for the second biggest contributors to energy usage in a home. The sun is out later now and evenings are warmer, so hang your clothes outside to dry. And, since your home is warmer during the summer, your water doesn’t need to be as hot during showers and baths. Turn your water heater to about 120 degrees F.
If your home is covered by shade from trees, you’re in luck and already don’t need to run the air conditioner as much. If you own a newer home, consider planting some trees as part of a long-term initiative to become more energy efficient. Even if you don’t see the return for a while, those trees will eventually grow to help the environment for future generations.
Ovens are also high on the list of biggest energy leeches in your home. Using an oven during the summer causes your air conditioner to work harder, which drives up your bill. During the summer months, consider eating more cold foods such as fruits and vegetables or sandwiches. Grilling your favorite meats and vegetables outside is another good option to reduce electric use and take advantage of nice weather. If you do need to cook with an oven, consider cooking smaller portions in a toaster oven.