Summer is right around the corner. Although spring temperatures in New England are comfortable, as the summer temperatures rise, so do your electric bills. We run the air conditioning more to keep temperatures down. We may need to do more laundry after days spent outside or at the beach.
And now with many of us working from home, we need to keep our homes comfortable without worrying about rising energy costs. So how can you manage your energy use and your costs? We’ve shared 7 tips that will help you use less energy during the hot summer months and save you money on your electric bills.
1. Don’t skip HVAC maintenance
Before you really start using your air conditioner, schedule your maintenance. A dirty filter causes the air to move slower, which makes your HVAC system work harder than it has to. It also helps prevent dust buildup in your system, which can lead to even bigger problems.
If you are able to change the filter yourself, do so regularly especially if you are using your AC extensively. Buy your filters in bulk so you always have some around when you need a new one. A clean filter will help the air flow through your unit more easily and will lower the cost of your energy bill.
2. Control your thermostat
78 degrees is the temperature the U.S. Department of Energy recommends for setting your thermostat while you’re at home. Although that sounds high, keep in mind that when the air is humid, temperatures will naturally feel hotter. Your AC is removing the humidity, so 78 degrees may feel a lot cooler than you think.
Install a smart or programmable thermostat so you can set the home and away times. This will eliminate you having to remember to change the temperature each time you leave. These thermostats will automatically adjust your home’s climate control while you’re away.
But if 78 degrees is a bit too hot for you, then set your thermostat to the following:
- 75 degrees F during the day if people are home and at night when people are asleep
- 80 degrees F during the day if no one is home
3. Make use of fans
Keeping the air moving in your home can help keep you more comfortable. If you have ceiling fans, keep them on to circulate the air in an entire room. If you don’t have ceiling fans, invest in a couple of portable fans. Using a fan, you might be able to raise your thermostat 4 or 5 degrees and still stay comfortable. And you just might get to that 78 degree recommendation.
But remember that fans cool people, not rooms. Turn them off when you leave. And did you know that ceiling fans turn both clockwise and counterclockwise? In the summer, you want your ceiling fan to rotate counterclockwise. This enables the fan to push cool air down to the floor. (For winter, run your ceiling fans clockwise to push the warm air back down into the room).
4. Keep the Sun Out
The summer sun is a wonderful thing – especially for those of us who love the outdoors. But letting sunlight come in through your windows will make it more difficult to keep your home comfortable.
Be sure to have shades or blinds on window that face south. Keep them drawn during the hottest parts of the day. Open windows at night if it cools down. Take advantage of natural breezes when they are available. Just remember to close your windows before the day starts to heat up to keep the coolness in.
5. Cool down your cooking
Who really wants to cook when it is hot? Using your oven and stove can raise the temperature in your kitchen by up to 10 degrees, making your AC work harder!
- Treat yourself to food prepared using your outdoor grill.
- Use the microwave whenever possible. It uses just one-third the energy of your oven and produces very little heat.
- Prepare cool, healthy salads. Lighter, cooler food is more tempting when it is hot rather than the heavier comfort foods of winter.
6. Wash clothes with cold water
One easy way to lower this cost is to use the cold water cycle on your washing machine. 90% of the energy used by your washing machine goes toward heating the water. Using the cold or the warm cycle will save electricity.
Try to wash bigger loads less often as well. Even if you have an energy efficient washing machine, you may still want to do less loads, saving both water and electricity.
Rather than use your clothes dryer, take advantage of the warm weather and dry your clothes outside or hang them up to dry. You save energy and avoid raising the temperature of your home with heat-generating appliances.
7. Switch to LED lights
Ever stand under a recessed light and feel heat coming from it? Traditional light bulbs give off heat. Swap those out for LED or compact fluorescent lightbulbs and save on your electric bill and reduce the amount of heat that is produced. ENERGY STAR certified LED bulbs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs, last 15 times longer, and save more than $55 in electricity bills over their lifetime.
This great outdoor weather doesn’t last that long in the northeast so get outside and enjoy the summer while it is here. And remember to take advantage of these 7 tips to lower your summer electric bills.