Summertime: school is out, beach days, warm weather, and of course, sunshine. These few months of heat bring lots of great memories, but they also bring higher temperatures inside and outside, meaning higher electricity bills. Everyone wants to stay comfortable in their homes, and those rising temperatures can be difficult and expensive to keep up with. The world is warming up, with the hottest summers on record including 3 out of the past 5 years (2016, 2019, and 2020), and 2021 is no different. Turning down the temperature can be costly, and the alternative could mean that you feel like you are drowning in sweat all the time, so we are going to talk about some other options to keeping your costs and energy usage down this summer.
1. Keep up with your thermostat.
First and foremost, know that your air conditioning is sucking energy faster than you can say “summer.” If you want an easy way to save, for every degree that you set your thermostat to above 73 degrees, you save up to 3% of your air conditioning expenses! So, if you set your thermostat to 78 degrees, you would be saving up to 15% on that portion of your electricity bill. Summer also means vacation, so when you travel, set the temperature higher or turn it off altogether so you’re not wasting energy by cooling down an empty home. Having a smart thermostat or smart home system can make this a bit easier because you can adjust it with your phone, and they can be set differently for an empty house.
Additionally, with the thermostat, be aware of your actual air conditioning unit! Every unit needs regular maintenance to run at its peak performance, but you don’t need to be an expert on HVACs to make sure it’s running effectively and efficiently. Clean out any dust that builds up on the vent as often as you can. Make sure that furniture or other objects are not blocking it, especially televisions, lamps, or other electronics—the thermostat will sense the heat that these appliances produce and can cause the air conditioning to run longer than it really needs to. Regularly checking the coils, fins, evaporators, and heat pumps can help you notice problems early on so you’re always running the most efficient HVAC.
2. Keep it breezy.
A great way to keep air flowing around your home without cranking down your thermostat is to use electric fans or ceiling fans! If you were to run a fan for 24 hours, 7 days a week, it would only cost you about $5 extra on your electricity bill, and if you turn off your fan when you leave your house, it would be even less. That is a huge difference in cost, and it can be a huge difference in your home’s temperature as well. Using a ceiling fan, the correct way, can give you the ability to set your thermostat 4 degrees higher than normal without feeling any difference in your comfort. Those 4 degrees can save you lots of money on your electricity bill, especially if you set your thermostat above 73 degrees! Just make sure you remember to turn the fans off when you leave your house, just to save a little bit more money and energy. During the summer, the blades on a ceiling fan should turn counterclockwise to push air down to create a breeze. You’ll be cool as a cucumber!
3. LED lighting
Fun fact: 90% of the energy used by traditional, incandescent lightbulbs is turned into heat, leaving only 10% of that energy for light! If you were to replace all your incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs, you would reduce not only your power bill, but also the temperature of your house and your overall frustration with summertime heat! For every 100 watts that an incandescent bulb uses, an LED bulb only uses 14-15 watts while producing the same amount of light. Incandescent bulbs only last about 750-2,000 hours, but LED bulbs last about 50 times longer with 40,000-50,000 hours of usage, and they use 75% less energy! Think about all the money and energy you could save if you switched all your lightbulbs to LED, and you will not need to replace them near as often. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if every home in the United States replaced just one incandescent bulb with an LED, Americans would save about $700 million each year in energy expenses. Now imagine if every home replaced all their incandescent lightbulbs with LEDs. It would be monumental for savings and for energy efficiency!
Even if your phone is fully charged and you take it off the cord, go ahead and unplug the charger. Not only can they trick the thermostat with the heat they produce while being used, but even when they are not being used, chargers, toasters, computers, TVs, and other electronics will continue to use wattage and create heat in the wiring. These electronic devices and chargers probably do not do too much on their own, but it is likely that you have multiple electronics in your house that all create heat and use energy, and those small productions can add up and become significant on your electricity bill and the temperature of your home. The Department of Energy has reported that if you unplug all your devices and chargers when you are not using them, you can save up to $100 each year on your energy bill!
5. Wash Cold
Not only is washing your clothes in cold water better for most fabrics, it also will save you money on your energy bills! Almost 90% of the energy that washing machines produce is used to heat up water used on hot cycles. Washing your clothes on the cold or even the warm cycle will save that 90% of energy and reduce your total energy usage. It could potentially save you around $200 each year. When you start a load of laundry, make sure it is a full load, so you can avoid using more energy on more loads when that really is not necessary. Something else you could do if you really wanted to save, you could dry your clothes on a clothesline instead of using a dryer! The dryer creates heat by running, even if you set your cycle to “no heat,” as it is an electronic appliance and heat is created in wiring.
These practices can also apply to your dishes—washing them on cold and letting them air dry or drying them with a towel can save you energy and money! If you incorporate these practices (you could also consider showering cold!), you will not be using as much hot water, so you could turn your water heater’s temperature down! The Department of Energy reports that water heating can make up 14-25 percent of your total energy usage, therefore 14-25 percent of your bill. Turning it down to 120 degrees (which is still pretty warm) can save you money each month!
6. Summer BBQ
Cooking in your home can be great in the winter, with a warm oven or stove adding some extra heat to your kitchen to save you from turning on the heater. In the summer, however, that additional heat is a nuisance that you want to get rid of as soon as you can, and if possible, avoid altogether. You will want to use the microwave instead of the oven whenever it works for your food—most products or recipes that call for baking can also be done in the microwave. Or you could go outside and make your meals on the grill! Summer is the perfect time for grilling burgers and hot dogs with family and friends. All the heat will be outside of your home, keeping you from having to turn your air conditioning on. The heat that those ovens and stoves produce can raise your kitchen’s temperature by 10 degrees! Then, there is the ever-present option of going out to eat, which is another great way to spend time with your family and friends. Just be sure you turn the fans off at your house before you go!
7. Beat the heat!
The sunshine that radiates in the sky during the summer gives a lot of great opportunities for happy memories, like picnics, beach trips, tanning, and boosting your mood by helping your body create Vitamin D. However, all these things are better done outside, especially if you want to keep the temperature of your home down. When sunlight comes through your windows and doors, it can heat up your home quite a bit. During the hottest part of the day, it helps to close your blinds or curtains to keep some of that heat out. If you are in a climate that is less humid, you can open your windows at night when it gets cool so that you can turn your air conditioning off and stay at a nice temperature. In the morning, close them again, so that you can trap the cool air. Another great way to keep the air around your house cool is with trees! They provide great shade, and if they are put in the right places, can perfectly shade your windows, walls, and your roof. The same can be said for shrubs or vines. Well-placed shade can save you $100 – $250 per year in air conditioning costs!
8. Back in the kitchen
Another great option in your kitchen is to keep your refrigerator at an optimal temperature. Setting it between 35 and 38 degrees is a perfect temperature to keep your food cold and safe without using excessive electricity for it to be unnecessarily cold. Keep your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees, and make sure the seals on both are tight and the coils are in good condition. It is also more efficient to keep your fridge and freezer full, because then, there will not be as much air that the appliance is keeping cool, which would really end up being cold air going to waste. This is good news: it means you SHOULD pack your freezer with pints of ice cream– for the environment of course.
9. Consider something new!
A foolproof way to save you money on your electricity bills is to invest in solar panels for your home. Solar energy is clean, renewable, and despite the cost to install a system, it can save you between $10,000 and $30,000 in the long run, depending on your state and climate. Solar systems on homes around the United States help to offset carbon emissions by billions of pounds each year, and they are becoming more and more popular. You can join the millions of people who have installed solar systems today by contacting one of our representatives here. For more tips on how to save money in your home, check out this blog from our friends at Porch.com! Have a sunny summer!