As a homeowner on a budget, saving energy during the summer months should be a priority. Explore these 15 ways you can have an impact on the electricity you use around your home and save money along the way!
When heat and humidity skyrocket during summer’s longest days, so do your energy bills. By making a few simple changes, however, you can easily lower your energy costs. Some of the strategies are absolutely free and only involve the time it takes to implement them. Others have minimal costs the take little time to recoup via your reduced energy bills. Here are 15 home energy savings strategies that can help lower your bills during the summer.
1. Buy a Programmable Thermostat ($20-$100)
Programmable thermostats give you precise control over the temperature in your home at specified times. Set the thermostat at a higher temperature when you are gone and program it to cool your home in time for your arrival. At night when you sleep is anther great time to bump up the temperature a few degrees, and turn your ceiling fan on.
2. Set Your Thermostat Higher ($0)
Along with buying a programmable thermostat, set your thermostat three degrees higher. By doing this, you’ll reduce your energy costs by about 20 percent. Even setting it one or two degrees higher will result in savings.
3. Buy a Ceiling Fan ($25-$700 and higher)
On some warm days, simply circulating the air in a room will keep you cool. Ceiling fans cost only about 10 cents per kilowatt hour to operate. A basic ceiling fan without the fancy bells and whistles can fulfill your needs.
4. Get a Home Energy Audit ($0-$650)
If you haven’t already done so, get an energy audit. Many power companies like Duke Energy will offer you one at no charge, however, if yours does not, you can still get one from a private auditor. Energy audits generally take about an hour and can provide you with information on where you can save money on energy bills, often in areas that you never thought needed attention.
5. Install a New Central Air Conditioning Unit or Heat Pump ($1,800-$10,000)
Is your central air conditioning system more than 10 years old? If so, you could possibly save money by installing a new, more energy efficient unit, even if your old one still runs well. That’s because today’s AC and heat pump units are much more energy efficient than those made just a few years ago. You’ll recoup the cost of the unit from reduced energy bills in several years.
6. Get Annual Maintenance for Your Air Conditioner or Heat Pump ($100)
Cleaning all operating parts is one of the most important aspects of annual AC maintenance. Dusty and dirty components cause your unit to work harder and longer, thereby increasing electricity costs. A thorough inspection and cleaning each year will help your cooling unit to run more efficiently.
Monthly, in between annual maintenance visits, simply pull out your garden hose and wash the unit and exterior condensing unit down thoroughly. This will keep dust, debris and other foreign objects from plugging the coil and allow the unit to operate much more efficiently.
7. Switch to LED Light Bulbs ($10)
LED light bulbs use 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and can last up to 40 times longer. By switching to LED, the average household will save about $8.33 in cost for lighting alone. However, there is a bonus benefit during the summer.
Incandescent bulbs give off heat as do CFL bulbs, adding to the amount of energy it takes to cool your home, so by switching, you’ll save on cooling costs as well. The cost of LED bulbs is expected to continue dropping too.
8. Run Appliances in the Evening ($0)
Just as light bulbs add heat to the environment, so do appliances when they are operating. Change your habits to save money by running your washing machine and dryer in the evening when the air temperature is lower.
Similarly, avoid using the stove or oven during the hottest times by making salads, sandwiches or other meals that don’t require cooking. If you must have a hot meal, cook outside on a grill. Some utility companies like PGE also use a surcharge during the hottest summer days. By not running your appliances during peak periods, you can avoid extra costs.
9. Add Insulation ($450-$3,000)
Here is where a home energy audit is invaluable, as it will tell you how much insulation you need and what type. Chances are that the heat properties, or R-value, of insulation has improved significantly since your home was constructed. Adding proper insulation, whether its spray foam insulation or more traditional blown-in insulation or batting, in the right places will not only save on air conditioning costs in summer but also on heating costs in winter. Additionally, ask your heating and AC contractor if replacing your hvac ducts can help save money.
10. Replace Weather Stripping Around Doors and Windows ($76)
Normally, homeowners think of the cold drafts in winter infiltrating their houses, but the opposite happens in summer when warm air creeps in through those tiny spaces. Invest in and install weather stripping around older doors and windows to prevent both hot and cold air from entering.
11. Install New Windows ($2,500-$7,500)
How old are your windows? Similar to air conditioning systems, contemporary windows manufactured during the last decade are also much more energy efficient as they keep out solar heating during the summer. Look for windows with low e-glass values for the best efficiency.
12. Use Shades, Blinds and Drapes with Solar Backing ($20 and up)
Draw drapes, blinds and shades on south and west exposure windows on hot days. Not allowing direct sunlight in these areas will limit indoor heating and allow your home to stay much cooler during the hottest part of the day.
13. Modify Landscaping ($20 and up)
Leafy trees can do wonders to shade and cool your home in summer, plus they beautify the environment. Place them around your home’s southern and western exposures, near windows to maximize the effect. The larger the tree, the bigger the cost, but you will also have greater energy savings sooner.
14. Use Windows and Doors Appropriately ($0)
Is there a nice breeze outside? If so, open doors and windows and let air come in. Conversely, if it’s hot and humid outside, make sure all windows and doors are tightly closed.
15. Install a Cool Roof ($0.75-$3.00 extra per square foot)
Reflecting materials and coatings can help disperse heat and prevent it from entering your home. When it’s time to replace your current roof, consider adding these elements to be kinder to the environment and save money in the process.
How Else Do You Save Home Energy in the Summer?
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