As the temperature begins to rise, so do the numbers on our electric bill. Greater energy output = greater dollar output. It’s a frustrating reality of summer. But there are a few tips and tricks that can help you keep your energy usage – and costs – down.
Take care of the air
The air conditioner, that is. This energy sucker can account for as much as 50 percent of your electric bill in the summer, according to Woman’s Day. Setting and maintaining it correctly can help.
“An air conditioner set at 70 degrees can cost twice as much to operate as one set at 78 degrees,” said Houselogic. Setting it for a higher temp when you’re out of the house is a given for keeping costs down. But turning it off altogether may backfire. “It’s less efficient to cool the house back down than to leave it set at a higher temperature.”
If you don’t have a way to automatically program the temperature (or if it’s time for an upgrade), a small investment can pay big dividends. The Nest Thermostat is one of a new wave of products that uses smart technology to help keep you comfortable and keep costs down. “The Nest Learning Thermostat learns your schedule, programs itself and can be controlled from your phone,” they said. “Teach it well and the Nest Thermostat can lower your heating and cooling bills up to 20 percent.”
Replacing your filters regularly can also help. “Clogged, dirty filters block air flow and make a unit work much harder. A clean filter can save up to 10 percent on your bill,” said Houselogic.
Cover those windows
“A method that is frequently used to keep heat in during the winter time, can also effectively keep the chill from the air conditioner in the house during the warm summer months,” said Investopedia. In fact, Houselogic said that keeping windows and drapes closed during the day “can reduce cooling costs by 30 percent.” If you get afternoon sun, adding thermal-backed drapes and exterior solar shades can also help keep costs down.
Look to the ceiling
That ceiling fan is your friend. It “uses about as much energy as a 100-watt bulb, but it can make a room feel up to eight degrees cooler,” said Houselogic. But make sure you are using it right.
If you have turned the fan blades clockwise for the winter months, make sure to turn them back so the air is being pushed down into the room. You’ll also want to turn off the fan when you aren’t home, said US News. “Ceiling fans don’t actually cool your home; they only circulate air to make you feel cooler. So when you’re at home, by all means, let your fans whirl away. But to let the blades spin for hours on end when you’re gone — that just adds to your electric bill.”
Listen to your mother
Remember when she was always telling you to turn off the lights? Now that you pay your own electric bill, it makes a lot more sense, right? Turning off your lights during the day is “a simple way to conserve energy and lower your electric bill,” said Investopedia. Ditto for turning them off when you leave a room at night. What’s not so easy? Getting your kids to comply.
Give your oven a break
The oven is hot, and not just inside. It can also heat up the kitchen and raise the temperature of your home, which means you’re using more energy. “You bought your stove for a reason,” said US News.
Still, it’s probably not a bad thing to be aware that any time you use a toaster oven, electric skillet, slow cooker or microwave, you use less energy.” Hint: the microwave uses as much as 90 percent less energy than the oven.
Wait until dark
Running washing machines and dishwashers at night can help you conserve energy and keep electric bills lower because the appliances don’t have to fight with your air conditioner. “These appliances produce heat, (which) will cause your air conditioning to work harder,” said US News. “Holding off in the evening helps your neighbors, too. It can also reduce any potential strains on the grid.”