It’s summer time and that means temperatures are heating up. I’ve got some simple ideas for how to lower your electric bill this summer.
These tips go beyond the typical “turn off the lights” and “turn up the thermostat.” During the hottest days of August I can’t bear to turn up the thermostat to save electricity. It’s miserable outside and I don’t want to be sitting in a dark, hot house either. These are just easy tips you can try to save electricity without sacrificing your sanity.
1. Switch to CFL bulbs – CFLs use up to 75% less energy (and last up to 10 times longer!) than incandescent bulbs do. This isn’t going to yield a huge savings, but it’s enough to make a difference. You can grab CFL multipacks at most stores and occasionally we even see coupons!
2. Use a power strip – Even when your electronics are off, they are still energy-suckers if they’re plugged in. Televisions and video game consoles are the biggest energy hogs, even when turned off. If you plug them into a power strip, you can power off the strip in just one switch of a button instead of unplugging each item.
3. Buy Energy Star appliances – If you see the “Energy Star” label on an appliance, it means it meets efficiency guidelines that will save you upwards of $100 a year on your electric bill just by replacing one appliance. You don’t need to run out and buy all new appliances. Replace them as you can. Also, check to see if your state has tax free shopping days for Energy Star appliances. This can help you save a little more.
4. Wash cold – If you wash your laundry in cold water, you can save $60 or more in a single year! If you are concerned about stains, pretreat them with stain removed and use a cold water detergent like Tide Plus. You can also apply the same rule to our dishwasher. You do need the hot water for washing but you can turn off the heated dry function.
5. Hang dry – We all know that the dryer heats the house up, and it uses electricity. Drying clothes on a line outside can save a nice chunk of change – and keep the house cooler! I washed our blankets and duvets a week ago. Normally these require one and a half dryer cycles to dry. I draped them over the patio table and they were dry in 45 minutes. Drying racks are also fairly inexpensive.
6. Use a programmable thermostat – Set your thermostat to a few degrees higher when you’re not home, but schedule it to turn back up about 30 minutes before you arrive so it’s comfortable when you get home. You can cut your cooling costs by as much as 20% just with this one switch! If you have a security system, some companies will allow you to hook your thermostat up to your system and control it from your phone.
7. Close your drapes – Not only will the sun come up earlier in the summer, it gets hotter faster, too. Closing your drapes can drastically cut heat loss, especially if they have an insulating layer. If you have blinds or curtains without an insulating liner, you can also installing black-out shades on your windows. These run about $10 per panel. Start with the windows that are in full afternoon sun and work around the house from there.
8. Change your filters – Your air conditioner filters need to be changed once every 30 days. Not only will this help with your electric bill, it’ll help keep the air a bit cleaner, too. You can grab a bulk pack at your local hardware store for $1-2 per filter.
9. Lower the temp – No, not on the air conditioner. Lower the temperature on your water heater. Water heaters are one of the largest energy expenses. Set your water temperature at 120 degrees. Headed out of town? Check to see if your water heater has a “vacation” setting.
There are also lots of ways to lower your winter utility bills. You’ll need those tips in a few months!