Save energy and money this summer

Save energy and money this summer

The cost of keeping your home cool during the dog days of summer can make up a large portion of your electric bill. You can stay cool and save money with these energy-efficiency tips.

No-cost tips

  • Set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you’re home. Increase the temperature when you’re away. For every degree the thermostat is raised during the summer, you can save 4 to 8 percent on cooling costs.
  • Close blinds and drapes during the day to keep heat out. Of course, keep your windows shut when running the air conditioner. It also helps to lock the windows to create a tighter seal and reduce air leakage.
  • Blocked air-conditioner compressor
    Make sure not to block the air flow around your
    air-conditioner's compressor. Planting flowers and
    shrubs too close makes the unit work harder.
    Make sure your ceiling fans are set to turn in a counterclockwise direction. This will create a cool breeze. But remember that ceiling fans cool people, not rooms, so turn them off when you leave a room.
  • Electronic devices such as cable boxes, printers, and TVs use power even when they’re turned off. Plug them into power strips to turn off during vacations or long periods without use. Switching off a power strip is much easier and faster than unplugging everything.
  • Learn to love your microwave and grill. It’s hot enough outside and firing up your oven inside won’t make your air conditioner’s job any easier. Outdoor grilling and microwave cooking are two ways to prepare food without generating extra heat.
  • Keep your outdoor air-conditioning unit clean and free of debris. The compressor needs 2 feet of clearance so it can run efficiently.
  • Make sure floor registers are not blocked with rugs, drapes, or furniture to avoid wasting energy and money.
  • If you have an attached garage, keep the overhead door down. A cooler garage will help you save energy.
  • Use lids on pots and pans when cooking. It will retain more heat and cook food faster, which will use less energy.
  • Don’t use your clothes dryer or dishwasher during the heat of the day. These appliances put out a good deal of unwanted heat. Wait until after dark to run these appliances so your air conditioner isn’t fighting too many battles at once.

Low-cost tips

  • Keep the hot, summer air outside where it belongs! Add caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around doors and windows.
  • Check your HVAC filters monthly and replace them if needed to help your system work efficiently. If you live in a dusty area or have pets, you may need to change them more often. Dirty air filters block airflow through the system. Low airflow means the system can’t cool as effectively.
  • Upgrade to LED bulbs. Changing your five most used standard light bulbs to LEDs can save you $60 a year. Make a plan to upgrade all the bulbs in your home, even if you buy just a few bulbs per month.

Long-term tips

  • Schedule yearly maintenance of your air-conditioning equipment to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs.
  • Increase the amount of insulation in your home. For the most thorough assessment, consider scheduling a professional energy audit in which technicians use infrared heat mapping to pinpoint your home’s thermal weak spots.
  • Plan for window upgrades. Window replacement is usually a costly proposition, but it’s one that pays you back over time in energy efficiency and comfort. If your windows are single-pane or aged and drafty, the energy savings could be significant. Make a financial plan for this home investment if you’re not ready to upgrade now.
  • Plant trees and shrubs to shade the exterior of your house. Large deciduous trees planted on the east, west, and northwest sides of your home create soothing shade from the hot summer sun and reduce summer air conditioning costs by up to 35 percent.