It’s not surprising that we use more electricity in the summer. We try to beat the heat by cranking up the air conditioner. The kids are home from school watching television and using their favorite electronics. And when they do go outside, those additional activities turn into extra loads of laundry from all the bathing suits, beach towels, and muddy clothes.
With this collection of energy-saving tips, you can increase the energy efficiency of your home, use less electricity, save money, and lower your utility bills - even when it’s hot outside.
1. Adjust Your Thermostat
If you don’t want your electricity bill to skyrocket in the summer, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends the following thermostat settings:
- 78º F during the day if people are home
- 85º F during the day if no one is home
- 82º F at night
To be clear, that does feel high for most people, so we recommend setting your thermostat as high as your personal comfort allows. Start by raising your normal setting by 1º each day to give your body time to adjust. If you can raise your thermostat at least 7 degrees higher than its normal setting, you could reduce your electric bill by up to 10% each year.
When you’re not at home, you can set the temperature even higher, or turn off the AC altogether to save even more energy.
2. Install a Programmable Thermostat
The best way to ensure that your home uses those recommended temperature settings is to install a programmable thermostat. By creating a simple schedule based on the habits of the people living in your home, you can guarantee that your thermostat goes to the appropriate energy-saving temperature at the right time of day.
If you invest in a smart thermostat, it’s easier to adjust those settings, and you could save even more money with the additional benefits they provide.
3. Cool Your Home With Fans
A ceiling fan can make your home feel up to 4º degrees cooler than what the thermostat actually says. That way, you can raise your thermostat setting to those recommendations above, and still maintain the same level of comfort. Who doesn’t like a light breeze on the hot summer days, especially when you can save on your energy costs without breaking a sweat?
If your home doesn’t have ceiling fans, you can achieve a similar effect with a few inexpensive portable fans to move around the cool air. With some trial-and-error, you can determine the best placement that circulates air most effectively and helps cool your home.
4. Upgrade Your HVAC System
Improving your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system — which accounts for as much as half of a home’s energy usage — is a sensible long-term investment that can help achieve lower energy costs.
Look for Energy Star certified systems with Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) ratings, which are 15% more energy efficient than other models.
5. Maintain Your HVAC System
If you have an older heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, you should get it checked out regularly by an experienced heating and cooling company to ensure the system is operating at peak efficiency.
An easy way to remember is to pick your favorite spring holiday, and use that date as a reminder to have someone come out and check your system to ensure it operates as effectively as possible before the high temperatures of summer arrive.
6. Check Your Insulation
Insulation isn’t just for keeping your house warm in winter. It also keeps hot air out and cold air in during the summer. This allows you to conserve energy by running your air conditioner less often.
Take the time to check for air leaks and make sure your home is properly insulated, and you can always review these guidelines from Energy Star to see if you need to add more.
7. Keep Your Kitchen Cool
Your oven and stove can emit a lot of heat into your home, which will make your air conditioner work even harder. In fact, ovens and stoves can raise your kitchen’s temperature by up to 10º.
Instead, cook with a microwave in the summer months, or fire up the outdoor grill to minimize the heat generated from the kitchen.
8. Do Laundry At Night
Much like your kitchen appliances, your washer and dryer can also create excess heat that will warm up your house. Many detergents are designed to use cold water, so you can also change to a cold water cycle to limit how much work your water heater needs to do.
By saving your laundry until 8 pm or later, you can avoid heating up your home unnecessarily, and you might also be able to take advantage of lower evening time-of-use rates.
9. Turn Down The Water Heater Temperature
You’re probably not looking forward to a hot shower on hot summer days, so use this as an opportunity to turn down the temperature of your water heater. Some manufacturers set their default water heater thermostat temperature to 140ºF, but most households can get by with them set at 120ºF.
Water heaters have what’s called standby losses, where heat is lost to the air that surrounds your water heater. By adjusting your temperature down to 120ºF, the Department of Energy estimates that you can save anywhere from $36 to $61 annually by avoiding excess standby heat loss.
10. Upgrade Your Light Bulbs
You might not think about the heat that older incandescent bulbs are creating, but every little bit counts when you’re trying to cut down on summer energy bills.
By switching to compact fluorescent or LED bulbs (or for maximum savings, ‘smart’ LED bulbs) you can save up to $80 per bulb in energy costs, while helping to further reduce the amount of time your air conditioner needs to be on.
11. Go Solar
By installing a solar power system on your home, you can take control of your energy generation and consumption, so you don’t have to worry about fluctuating energy costs for years to come. Your solar panels can use those warm and sunny summer days to generate the electricity you need, so you don’t have to draw as much energy from the utility grid.
When you follow these cost-saving tips, you can also reduce the amount of electricity you need at night, further lowering your energy bills.
Ready to go solar with Palmetto? Our experienced professionals can help you enjoy clean solar energy that can lead to lower energy bills, while also improving the environment. Check out our free solar design and savings estimate tool today to see how solar panels will look on your roof, and calculate your personal solar savings.