Summer is here, and that means air conditioning can account for up to 80% of your electricity costs, especially in warmer areas of the U.S. Many people complain of a significant spike in their energy bills during the summer months.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. If you are committed to keeping costs down, there are a number of small changes that you can make throughout your home that will help you cut your energy bills by as much as 20% or more during the summer months.
#1 – Dress appropriately
When the temperature goes up, change your wardrobe to more appropriate clothing. Switch your jeans and heavier shirts for shorts, sandals or flip flops, and wear natural fabrics that breathe well such as linen and cotton.
There are a number of other ways to keep your body cool without touching the thermostat, such as staying hydrated with plenty of ice water, and switching your hot showers for cool or even cold ones.
#2 – Reduce your use of heat-producing appliances
This tip is probably the most important – by reducing your use of appliances in your house that produce additional heat, you can dramatically reduce your cooling costs in the summer. This includes things such as:
- The stove and oven – make use of your crock pot and microwave, or eat cooler foods that don’t require a lot of cooking, such as salads. Better yet, cook outdoors on your grill as often as possible.
- The dryer – use fabric softener in your washing machine and dry your clothes outside on a clothesline. Even though your dryer is vented outdoors, some of the heat can still escape into your house, raising the temperature.
- The hairdryer – during the summer, let your hair dry naturally. As the water evaporates, it will have the wonderful effect of naturally cooling you down as well.
- The dishwasher – try to run the dishwasher only once a day, after the sun goes down. If this isn’t possible, skip the superheated wash and go for a regular wash cycle, and turn off the heated dry option.
In addition to these, it’s also helpful to keep any lights you aren’t using turned off, as well. This is a good tip for any time of year, but particularly the summer. Light bulbs give off heat, though the newer CFL bulbs produce less than incandescent bulbs do. You should also make sure that there aren’t any lights near your thermostat, as this can cause your air conditioning to run more than necessary.
#3 – Use other cooling methods
Did you know that ceiling fans are designed with two different settings – one for summer, and one for winter? Make sure yours is set to the correct direction (counter-clockwise) and run it at its fastest setting to help keep you cooler. Other ways to help keep the temperature down in your home include:
- Open the windows at night when the temperature drops – this can help cool your house significantly at night. In the morning, close the windows to keep the cooler air in.
- Install blinds and curtains on the windows to keep out the sunlight, which can heat the house.
- Reduce the amount of sidewalk and asphalt on the northern and western sides of your house
- Plant shade-producing trees on the east and west sides of your home. Planting one over or near your central unit can also reduce your energy usage by as much as 10%.
- When things get too hot to handle at home, get out of the house for awhile. A visit to your neighborhood pool, library, or even grocery store allow you to take advantage of their air conditioning, without raising your own energy costs.