7 Ways to Cut Your Summer Energy Costs

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Just thinking about a high energy bill is enough to make anyone sweat, but your utility bills don’t need to be outrageously high just because it’s summer. There are several things you can do to ensure your energy costs don’t rise with the heat. Here’s a look at how you can lower your summer electric bill.

1. Operate your thermostat efficiently

Start by setting your thermostat as high as you can without sacrificing your comfort. The smaller the difference is between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your utility bill will be. When you’re gone, keep the house warmer than normal, suggests Energy.gov. Just doing that can lead to an annual savings of 30 percent, per U.S. News & World Report.

Another thing to avoid? Kicking your air conditioner into overdrive as soon as you turn it on. Impatiently turning your air conditioner down to 66 won’t cool your home any faster, and instead, could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expenses. Start off with a higher temperature, and then choose to lower the temp a bit more if need be.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

2. Use heavy drapes on windows

Drapes can be more than just a cute accessory for your windows. They can help keep your house cool by blocking out the sun. By preventing the sun from warming up your house, your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard (or at all.) Investopedia writes that if buying drapes for all of your windows is too expensive, only hang them in the areas of your home that gets the most sun exposure.

3. Plug any holes

“Make sure your house is leak-free,” Ronnie Kweller, spokesperson for the Alliance to Save Energy, tells MSN, or else “nice, cold, expensive air is going out the cracks.”

Don’t let cold air sneak out on you. Instead, pick up something like an inexpensive plastic film (you can get it at hardware stores) to boost your insulation around drafty windows, per U.S. News & World Report. You can also consider foam and caulking to seal problem areas, or you may want to consider extra insulation in the attic. If a particular project seems overwhelming, consult a professional to help. It’s an initial cost that will pay off once you get your cheaper energy bill.

If you’re using a window-unit air conditioner, make sure it fits in the window nice and snug so air isn’t escaping around it. You can also shut the doors and vents of unused rooms so the air conditioner isn’t working in overdrive all summer.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

4. Eliminate energy users

Keep an eye out for energy appliances and electronics that drain energy even when they’re turned off. “I think the biggest one is one we all should know but probably don’t: that ‘off’ means unplugged,” Bob Hart, a green designation instructor with the National Association of Realtors, tells Bankrate. “People have no idea how many things in their house (use) electricity 24 hours a day.”

So, how can you tell what is sucking up your energy? Look for anything with a clock or light that’s on even when the item is turned off. Any sort of plugged in charger can also be an energy suck even when it’s not charging anything. Instead, try hooking things up to surge protectors or use outlets that connect to wall switches. That way when the wall switch is off, no power is being drained.

5. Consider cooking less

You now have the perfect excuse to stop cooking every night. As soon as you turn the oven on, it heats up the rest of your house, forcing your air conditioner to work harder. Remember, every time your air conditioner has to work harder, it will show up in the form of a higher energy bill. If you want to continue cooking, consider using an outdoor grill, toaster over, or even the stovetop, which still gives off less heat than the oven.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

6. Use cold water

This applies to showers, washing machines, and anything else where you can make the choice between hot or cold water. Start by taking a look at your dishwasher and washing machine usage. You use the same amount of water and energy whether the machine is full or not, so make a point to start doing full loads. You’ll run the machine less, too, which will also help with your utility bill.

Bankrate recommends using the following tips to help save even more. Do your laundry in cold water. Using the water heater for things such as showers, dishwashers, and laundry can account for about 14 percent of your total power bill. Also consider skipping the dry cycle on your dishwasher. Instead, hand dry dishes or let them air dry. Finally, if this is something that’s approved in your neighborhood, get a clothesline to hang your clothes on. If they’re not allowed in your area, you could also use a discreet drying rack on your back patio or deck.

7. Utilize your ceiling and window fans

Yes, there are definitely going to be ridiculously hot days in the summer where you have to use your air conditioner. But on days where it’s more tolerable, try using your ceiling and window fans instead and give your air conditioner a break. Fans use a lot less electricity than an air conditioner. If you strategically place your fans in your house, it can keep cool air circulating in the house, preventing your home from getting too warn. If you’re going to pick one room to invest in installing a ceiling fan definitely choose your bedroom. It will help keep air circulating while you sleep.

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