How are your summer utility bills treating you? With stretches of hot days and mild nights, perhaps you’ve been running your central air or window units more than you expected. Or, perhaps, with the kiddos home from school, you’re simply using more resources as a family this season. The summer can be an expensive time for many reasons, but there are ways that you can cut down on some of the costs. Here are simple changes you can make right now that can help things out and reduce your next energy bill.
Manage Your Sunlight
The strong sunlight of summer is a gift for many reasons, but it is also the primary source of heat during the day. Sunlight coming through the windows all day can mean wasteful overuse of air conditioning. It may sound simple, but effective use of shades and window treatments during the day can make a key difference in the temperature of your home, reducing your need for air conditioning. Consider black-out curtains for windows getting the most and strongest light during the day, likely your eastern and western facing windows. Worried about not enjoying enough light in your home? Pay attention to when light is streaming directly into the windows of your home and manage your shades accordingly. As the sun passes over during the day, the light will change and you can adjust your curtains and shades.
Remember Other Sources of Heat
There are plenty of other heat sources in your home. Remember that your lights give off heat, so turning them off when you leave a room not only saves on the cost on your overall bill, but also helps keep your air conditioning working efficiently. Remember that lightbulbs matter, too! Incandescent lightbulbs produce more heat than LED and other energy efficient bulbs.
Your oven is the most obvious culprit for introducing unnecessary heat into the house. Avoid doing self-cleaning cycles during the summer time, and try out new recipes cooked on the stovetop or on the grill. If you must use the oven, try to cook during the cool morning hours rather than during the high-heat hours of the day.
Maintain Air Control
An efficiently cool house starts with a proper thermostat. A new programmable thermostat can efficiently regulate the temperature of your home. Program it to keep the home warmer when you are regularly away and cooler when you are going to be home. Remember not to install any lamps, televisions or other appliances that put off heat near your thermostat, as that will throw off the reading.
According to the Department of Energy, by installing a ceiling fan and using it in conjunction with your air conditioning, you can raise your thermostat setting by about 4 degrees without feeling any warming. This is thanks to the wind chill effect that the fan creates for the people in the room. That’s an important thing to note: for maximum savings, turn off your ceiling fans when you leave the room. Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms, so running the fan while you are away is a waste of energy. During milder days, try to live with just your ceiling fans and not your central air. Running a fan is significantly less expensive than running a large air conditioning unit.
On the days that aren’t too hot, or during the nights when it cools off significantly, open windows and cross ventilation is the most cost-efficient way to cool your home. This may not be possible for all of the remaining days of summer (humid nights happen!), but on nights when the air is cool and dry, seize the opportunity to get some easy energy savings. Speaking of ventilation, don’t forget that your daily showers and baths add heat and humidity to the home. Don’t forget to use the bathroom fan to help remove some of that. Your laundry room might also be a source of heat or humidity. Consider adding a fan to your laundry room, or at least reducing your laundry to one full load a day (this will help with your water bill as well!).
Have you had your central air conditioning professionally serviced this year? Have you changed the filters in your home? Are all of the air vents clear of furniture and other blockages? Regular maintenance matters when it comes to energy efficiency. If you haven’t taken the time to do these things, there is no time like the present.
This is also a good time to check on your weather stripping. Just as you don’t want cold air coming into your warm home during the winter, you should check to make sure your doors and windows aren’t letting warm air into your cool home. Insulation will also make a difference. Have questions or need ideas for how to find out if your home is adequately insulated or air-tight? Consider getting a Home Energy Audit from Revise Energy or another agency. You’ll know exactly where you stand and will be given expert advice on next steps for making your home as efficient as possible.
You might not be able to do them all, but any one of these little changes can make a difference on your next summer energy bill. Look around your home and think about where you can make a change today!
Have suggestions you’d like to add that could help your friends and neighbors with their energy bills? Head over to Facebook and leave a comment on this post. We’d love to hear your ideas!
Did you like this article?
Sign up for the mailing list to stay up-to-date on our blog posts!
We created the Solar Five® Blog with the goal of producing interesting, engaging and helpful content. Sign up for our mailing list today!*
*We won’t bombard you with daily emails containing information you don’t need or share your information with any third parties.