Summer is a time for beach trips, mountain hikes, and backyard barbeques. However, there is one thing that every homeowner dreads about summer: their electric bill. It’s a tough check to write when your money could be spent on so many other things—including summer fun.
Here’s the thing: most homes are not getting the most bang-for-their-buck when it comes to energy use. In fact, upwards of 35% of all residential energy used in the United States is wasted. If you want to pay less in energy costs this summer, now’s the time to be proactive. In this article, we’ll review some of the best energy-saving tips and tricks you can use to lower your energy bills for good, leaving more money in your wallet this summer.
Cool down your spending on air conditioning
Keeping a home cool in the summer and warm in the winter is by far the largest use of energy in the American home. Nearly half (47%) of all the energy used in the average home goes into powering either the air conditioner or the furnace. By saving energy here, you’ll really be putting yourself and your home on the path to lower utility bills.
Let’s start with the air conditioner itself. No matter how new or old your system is, it’s a good idea to call your local HVAC pros and get a seasonal tune-up in the spring. This can maximize the energy-efficiency of your current system. If you do have a very old air conditioner that has made your summer electric costs a nightmare for the past few years, consider upgrading to a new system: the lower monthly bills over the lifetime of the system, paired with potential rebates from your utility company, will offset the initial investment.
Cooling the air is only half the battle. The other half is keeping that conditioned air in your home. For instance, a lot of conditioned air gets lost traveling through leaky air ducts, or through insufficient attic insulation. To know for sure, you may want to enlist the help of a professional to perform an energy audit. This will help you know exactly where your problem areas are and how to fix them To know for sure, you may want to enlist the help of a professional to perform an energy audit. This will help you know exactly where your problem areas are and how to fix them.
Replace your inefficient appliances
After your air conditioner and heater, some of the largest energy hogs in your home are your washer and dryer (13% of average home energy use), your fridge (4%), your stove (4%), and your dishwasher (2%). Generally, the older these appliances are, the less efficient they are. Make a plan to eventually switch these out for Energy Star-rated systems that will start saving you money and cutting down on your energy bills.
Also, check with your utility company about a peak usage program. These initiatives reward customers who agree to cut down on electrical use during “peak hours” (typically, 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.), when the grid is under the most stress. Just by modifying when you dry your clothes or run the dishwasher, you could get lower rates and lower bills. Score!
Don’t forget about the small things
Lighting is about 12% of the average home energy use. Making the switch to CFL and LED bulbs in just 5 of the most used lamps or lights in your home can save you more than $75 annually! Given how relatively inexpensive light bulbs are and how easy they are to replace, this is one of the easiest things you can do to cut your energy bills significantly.
We all love the sunshine that comes along with summer. However, direct sunlight in your home means heat in your home, which means higher cooling costs. Use shades and curtains to block out the sun, especially while you’re at work.
You can do this!
If you’ve been struggling with higher and higher energy bills summer after summer, now’s the time to take a stand. By following the steps above, you can make your home more energy-efficient and reduce your energy use. As a homeowner, you might not be able to control how hot it gets or your local utility rates, but you can take positive steps forward to control your energy costs.
For more energy-saving tips—including ways that you can upgrade your plumbing to save on utility costs—check out this great infographic from the team at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing in Hayward, California: