When temperatures rise, your utility bill doesn’t have to follow suit. Try these 10 tips to cut your summer energy use:
- Work your thermostat. Electric thermostats can be programmed so that the A/C isn’t on when you don’t need it. Set the thermostat at 82° before you leave for work in the morning and at 77° when you get home.
- Live off-peak. In many cities, electricity usage is calculated on a time-of-use rate. Go online and determine when your off-peak hours are and run your dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer at these times. Often, electricity rates are the lowest early in the morning, at night, and on the weekends.
- Draft-proof. Drafts in your homes are big energy wasters. Find out where air is escaping by performing a simple air-leak test. Take a piece of tissue and go through your entire house holding the tissue near windows and door frames, electrical outlets, baseboards, and other possible leakage locations. If the tissue moves, consider sealing in these gaps with caulking and weather stripping. The materials you need are relatively inexpensive and can reduce loss energy loss by up to 10%.
- Keep the light out. Closing your blinds and curtains during the day can naturally cool your home by blocking heat that otherwise would have come in through your windows.
- Improve your habits. Do you let the water run when you brush your teeth? Do you keep your fridge door open for a long time while you decide what to eat? Be aware of these bad habits and try to pick up a few good ones, including: taking shorter showers, turning off the lights when you leave the room, and watering the lawn at night.
- Reduce your phantom load. Phantom load is the electricity consumed by a device when it is turned off. For example, your television, video game console, cable box, laptop, and cell phone chargers all suck up energy even when they’re not on. Ensure that these devices are unplugged when they’re not being used. Alternatively, plug them into a power bar and turn off the bar before you go to bed and when you leave for work in the morning.
- Wash laundry efficiently. Becoming smarter about how you do your laundry not only saves you money, but it also protects valuable fresh-water resources. Roughly 90% of your washing machine’s energy consumption comes from heating water, so wash your laundry in cold water whenever possible. Loading the washer to its capacity at all times uses up less energy than washing two medium loads. Also, set your machine to the shortest wash time, and forgo the extra rinse cycle.
- Hang your clothes to dry. The dryer is a huge source of energy. During the summer, hang your clothes outside to dry and/or dry them on a clothes rack indoors.
- Lighten up with energy-efficient bulbs. The electricity used over the lifetime of a single incandescent bulb costs five to 10 times the original purchase price of the bulb itself. Replace your regular light bulbs with either Light Emitting Diode (LED) or Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) bulbs, which are more energy-efficient and longer lasting.
- Get informed about your energy use. Understand the options you have available for managing your energy consumption, such as home energy monitors and other applications. And take advantage of the many rebates and incentives available from your government or utility.