- Personal Finance
7 Easy Ways to Cut Your Summer Energy Bills
These tips can help you save energy and money this summer.
Webster defines "dog days" as the time "between early July and early September when the hot and sultry [summer months] occur in the Northern Hemisphere." With electricity costs on the rise, the dog days can bite you in the wallet.
According to the United States Energy Department, more than half of your summer energy bills go toward cooling costs. Fortunately, you can reduce your electricity use and still have a comfortable home.
Don't let the dog days bust your budget. Try some of these money-saving tips in your home. Not only will you reduce your energy use, but you'll also have more money for summer fun.
Don't let the dog days of summer bust your budget.
1. Set Your Thermostat
... between 78 and 80 degrees when you're at home, and to 85 degrees when you're away.
Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) accounts for 60 percent of your energy bills. Since a cooling system runs for at least half the day during the summer, it's the highest energy-using appliance in the home.
Is 78 degrees too warm for you? Use ceiling fans or other room fans to move the conditioned air through your home. And drink more water. Not only can it cool you down, but it may also improve your health and reduce your grocery bills.
This thermostat has smart features, a touchscreen, and WiFi remote access.
2. Program Your Settings
... with a programmable thermostat. We replaced the thermostat in our apartment with a simple Honeywell model from a home improvement store. It gives us better control of the temperature settings throughout the day.
Some retailers sell thermostats with smart features, touchscreens, and WiFi remote access. If you're willing to spend a little more for a thermostat, this Honeywell model from Amazon is a good one to consider.
Some American cities provide free, programmable thermostats to their residential customers. San Antonio is one example. Residents there can apply for a free smart thermostat (the Peak Saver Thermostat) from CPS Energy.
In Orlando, Duke Energy provides a wireless thermostat (the HoM Energy Manager) for their eligible customers. Check with your electric power company to see if they offer free thermostats in your city.
3. Change Your Filters
... at least once a month. Every two weeks may be necessary during the summer for the best performance.
Air conditioner (AC) filters get dirtier during the summer. A dirty filter puts more strain on your cooling system, causing it to run harder and longer. Not only does this create a higher energy bill, but it also shortens the life of your air conditioner.
The maintenance team at our apartment community replaces AC filters upon request. I usually ask for a filter when I pay the rent. If you're a homeowner, don't overlook this easy way to cut your summer energy bills and save money.
4. Use Ceiling Fans
... and portable fans to cool your home. Fans circulate the air and make a room feel cooler, so you can set the thermostat a little higher.
We've never rented an apartment home (in Texas or Florida) without ceiling fans. Along with table fans and oscillating towers, they provide a nice, cool breeze during the hot summer months.
With the fans running, the thermostat in our home rarely registers below 78 degrees. Consider using fans this summer to cut your home's energy bills.
5. Turn Off or Unplug
... your electronic devices when they're not in use. This includes your fans, televisions, stereos, game consoles, computers, kitchen appliances, lamps, and more.
Don't forget your cell phone chargers, digital cameras, cordless phones, and other electronic devices.
While this won't give you a cooler home this summer, it will help you cut your summer energy bills. In fact, you'll save money year-round.
It's better to unplug your devices than to turn them off. Even when they're turned off, they can leak electricity as standby power. Experts call this "vampire energy" or "phantom load." Consider using power strips to reduce the energy leaks in your home.
6. Use CFL Bulbs
... instead of standard incandescent light bulbs.
A compact fluorescent light (CFL) is an energy-saving bulb. It's a good alternative to a conventional bulb.
The electric current inside an incandescent bulb heats a thin filament to make the bulb glow. Although the light is soft and warm, the bulb loses most of its energy as heat.
The electric current in a CFL bulb energizes argon and mercury vapors. This causes a phosphor coating inside the bulb to glow. The light is much brighter, but the bulb uses less energy and loses little heat.
A CFL bulb is more expensive than an incandescent bulb, but it pays for itself in energy savings. As our standard bulbs burn out, we're making the switch to compact fluorescent bulbs.
7. Reduce Hot Water
... when you shower after a swim, wash the dinner dishes, or do the laundry. This is a practical way to cut your summer energy bills and save money.
Switch from hot to warm or cold water, or use the lowest temperature setting possible. The reduction in water heating costs will amaze you.
What else can you do to trim your energy costs this summer and year-round? Consider using low-flow shower heads and water faucet aerators. And set your washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher to run on shorter cycles.
How do YOU cut your summer energy bills? Leave your answer in the comments below. And if you liked this post, use those nifty buttons on the left to share it with your social networks. Thank you!
- CPS Energy. (August 2012) "9 Tips to Save During the Dog Days of Summer." San Antonio, TX: CPS Energy: Energy Connection. Print.
- Duke Energy (July 2015) "Stay Cool and Save." Charlotte, NC: Duke Energy Corporation. Print.
- Merriam-Webster. (n.d.) "Dictionary Entry: Dog Days." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
- U.S. Department of Energy (December 2011) "Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Money and Energy at Home." Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
© 2012 Annette R. Smith