Sunday, July 20, 2014 / by Joshua Roueche
10 Ways to Cut Home Energy Costs this Summer
Adults welcome summer with childlike happiness. We dig out the sunglasses, sundresses and shorts, kick off the heavy shoes, and feel revived. Before we know it, the heat is soaring, and we’re darting for the shade and relaxing indoors. But how can you combat the searing pain of your summer utility bills? Follow these smart cooling tips to reduce your home energy costs this summer and to move toward a more energy efficient way of life.
1. Open Wide, Shut It Up
A simple trick your grandmother probably follows is opening all of the windows in the home as soon as you wake up. By 11 a.m. or as soon as you start to feel some heat, close the windows and pull down the shade or curtains. You’re essentially trapping the cool morning air in your home. Even if you have to start your commute to work at say 8 a.m., any little bit of fresh air will help. When you return home from work, you’ll notice the difference. As the heat levels off in the evening, open your windows again.
Investing in thermal shades or curtains might be an option since they’re useful during both summer and winter months.
This tip especially applies to those that live in mild climates where central air conditioning is not always needed, like the Pacific Northwest, or during mid-spring in the Deep South before the real heat hits.
2. Keep It Green
Trees and shrubs are other low-cost home cooling options. They naturally provide shade and protection to the home. Their roots help cool the earth and prevent erosion.
In fact, the U.S. Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research found you can save as much as 30 percent on your annual air conditioning costs by planting two large trees to the west of your home and one on the east. And by doing so you can cut your utility bill by $100 to $250 every year.
3. Push the Cool Air Down
Inexpensive and useful year round, ceiling fans are a great addition. You can purchase an Energy Star approved ceiling fan. By doing so, you’re being 60 percent more energy efficient. Pair your ceiling fan with a thermostat. Raise the thermostat by 2 degrees, and you’ll cut your cooling costs by 14 percent. Who knew?
4. Filter It Out
Face it, we’re all pretty busy. It’s easy to forget to regularly replace your AC or HVAC filter. Set up a reminder to check your filters during your fall and spring cleaning periods. This way you’ll be ahead of schedule before a sticky summer or harsh winter.
5. Tune It Up
It’s a good idea to have your AC unit tuned up once a year or once every two years. A qualified HVAC technician will thoroughly inspect your system and give you an estimate of any needed improvements. Ask him to also check out your duct work to ensure there’s no leaks.
6. Too Small or Too Big?
While you have an HVAC technician on site, ask if your AC is properly sized for your home. Maybe you did not have the unit installed and the previous owner did. If the unit is too small or big, in both cases you are paying more on your electric bills. The size of the home and how many rooms are to be cooled determines the size of the unit.
7. Smart Buying
Perhaps the technician says its time or perhaps you’ve been planning on it, but you will replace your AC unit at some point in your life. The smartest appliance investment you can make for your home is to purchase an Energy Star approved unit. They come in a variety of sizes and price ranges. You will definitely see a positive impact on your energy bills and can be proud of your energy efficiency.
8. Seal It Up
Related to your duct work, inspect the rest of your home’s insulation. Insulation works both ways — it keeps heat and cool air in. Manually go around to each window and door and look for cracks to seal with caulking or similar.
9. Adjust That Dial
Do you have a programmable thermostat, but aren’t using the program features? That’s the case in many homes. For instance, by setting your thermostat to turn off while your home is empty, you can save as much as $180 annually.
To take it a step further, invest in a smart thermostat, like Nest. Nest thermostats learn your habits over time, and automatically adjust to your lifestyle. They also come with both mobile and desktop apps, so you can control your home’s temperature from afar.
10. Daily Chores
It’s the little things that make a difference, right? Here’s some simple advice to live by, all of which cut down on your energy costs:
- Use the dishwasher instead of hand washing. Dishwashers actually use less water than by hand.
- Do your laundry early in the morning or late at night when its cooler in the home. This impacts the city’s energy efficiency too as these time periods are not during peak hours.
- Turn down the temperature on your water heater.
- Take cooler showers.
- Close off rooms that don’t need cooling
- Limit the amount of time the filters run on your home pool.
- Unplug appliances, computer stations and TVs when not in use. These guys are little vampires sucking at your energy when you don’t need it.
Every little thing we do adds up in terms of energy consumption. Start following the above tips to reduce your energy bills now.