How to lower your electric bill in summer
When spring gives way to the dog days of summer, homeowners often wonder how they can keep their energy bill from getting out of control. With youngsters on summer break and college students renesting between semesters, energy usage increases – more loads of laundry, dishwasher cycles, lights on, electronics used, and so forth.
Even homeowners without kids may find their summer energy bill on the rise. Longer days and warm weekends encourage summer parties and weekend visits from friends and family.
How can you keep your bill grounded? The answer, thankfully, isn’t to turn off the air conditioning and contend with a hot, humid house. There are plenty of ways homeowners can keep summer energy costs down and electricity bills in check.
Here are our favorite strategies:
3 steps you can take at home today
- Monitor your light usage: Turning off the lights when you leave the room (and leave the house) can help lower the ambient temperature indoors, allowing your air conditioner to work less.
- Use your energy intensive appliances at night: Energy use costs the most during peak hours. In the summer, peak hours often arrive when the sun is at its brightest and hottest, making your air conditioner work overtime. Don’t add more heat. Keep things cooler by using appliances like your washing machine and dishwasher at night.
- Air dry your clothes: Another way to conserve energy is by avoiding your dryer and letting your clothes hang outside. It also gives you plenty of reason to hang outside, too.
3 steps to consider while running errands
- Pick up a good fan: Ceiling fans have been around since 1882, and they remain one of the most energy efficient ways to cool air. Ceiling fans generate cool air by circulating rising hot air downward. This mixture means your air conditioner can work a little easier. And it might even help you save money all summer long. The next time you’re out, consider picking one up.
- Buy new blinds or insulation: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 30% of a home’s atmosphere leaks through standard windows. In the summer, this means your air conditioner is only 70% efficient at best. Buying window covers like blinds or storm windows will bump that energy efficiency up.
- Get a dehumidifier: Ever feel like the air weighs on you like a heavy blanket? When water evaporates in the summer, your body cannot cool as fast, causing you to feel hotter than you are. In turn, you likely lower the AC. A dehumidifier pulls water vapor out of the air through condensation, allowing your body to feel the actual indoor temperature.
3 energy investments that work all year long
- Buy a programmable thermostat: Setting your thermostat helps control the cost of your electricity bill. Setting it too high in the summer will save money, but you’ll be baking. But do you really want to pay to keep your house chilly when no one’s there? Enter the smart thermostat. It allows you to set the temperature higher when you’re away, then lower when you go to sleep, all without monitoring the dial.
- Consider upgrading your HVAC system: Your HVAC breaking down on a blisteringly hot day is a bit of a worst-case scenario. If the house temperature fluctuates for no reason or you smell unidentifiable mechanical or chemical odors, it may be time to upgrade the system. An energy efficient system will always save energy, no matter what season you install it.
- Change your roofing to a lighter color: The lighter your roof, the more heat it will reflect. Changing your roof to a lighter color can be a sizable investment, but you may find the savings - an older HVAC system that lasts a little longer and an air conditioner that uses less energy – make the investment worthwhile.
Simplify your bill by choosing a new energy rate
Another way homeowners can control unpredictable changes in energy costs is to compare electricity rates with other energy suppliers. By switching from a variable rate to a fixed electric rate, you can protect your budget from fluctuating energy costs and today’s volatile energy market.