Summer means long-running air conditioning, constant wash cycles of bathing suits and beach towels, and more overall energy use. With some preparation, you can minimize energy consumption and cut down on your monthly utility bills. Here are 11 ways to save energy this summer.
1. Raise the temperature on your thermostat
Though it might feel good to blast your AC in the summer, lowering your indoor temperature leads to extremely high utility bills. Consider setting the indoor temperature to at least 75ºF. The smaller the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your cooling bills will be. When you leave the house, set the temperature even higher (preferably 78ºF) or turn the air conditioner off altogether.
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According to Jeff Mumford, president of Choose Energy, “Set your thermostat at 78ºF and leave it there, except for times when the house is empty. During those times, for every degree above 78, you can save up to 8 percent on your monthly bill.”
You could also consider investing in a smart thermostat to help regulate temperatures throughout the day. “Nest thermostats, including the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest E, learn your habits and will automatically program itself to save energy,” says Caesar Sanchez, merchandise director at Orchard Supply Hardware. “Nest thermostats have features like Auto-Away, where the thermostat will turn itself down when you’re away to avoid heating or cooling an empty home, and Nest Leaf, where you’ll see a leaf on the thermostat if you choose a temperature which saves energy.”
Swapping heavy bed clothes for lighter alternatives (or even cooling sheets) can help make up for temperature, and over time, your body will adapt.
2. Use fans to cool your house
Using a ceiling fan while a room is in use will allow you to raise your thermostat temperature four degrees. “Switch you ceiling fan’s blade rotation,” says Jeff. “During summer, your ceiling fan blades should rotate counterclockwise. Why? This will push cool air down, where you need it.”
If you don’t have ceiling fans, portable fans work just as well—they’re inexpensive and readily available at any home goods or big-box retailer. We recommend the Dyson Cool tower, which is energy efficient and designed to cool larger spaces. When you leave a room, turn off all fans to reduce energy pull.
3. Clean your air filter
Dirty air filters can overwork your cooling system, causing your HVAC to use more energy. Not to mention, dirty air filters can circulate allergens and dust throughout your home, lowering indoor air quality. It’s recommended that you change your air filter at least every three months, so the beginning of summer is the perfect time to do this.
4. Heat food in your microwave
Using your oven and stove can raise your kitchen’s temperature by 10 degrees. By heating food in your microwave, you’ll lower the risk of overheating your kitchen and save energy in the process; microwaves use one-third the energy of an oven and produce less heat than other kitchen appliances.
5. Hang curtains
Sun coming through your windows can heat up your home and cause energy bills to rise. Draw curtains and blinds during the hottest parts of the day (between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.), especially if your windows are facing south. According to Jeff, “Use blinds to keep the sun out of south-facing windows. It will keep the house cooler and give your AC a break.”
6. Clean behind your dryer
According to John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada, a home management service, “The back of your dryer is connected to a vent. This builds up with lint over time which causes your dryer to work longer and harder to dry the clothes, which increases your energy bill.” John recommends cleaning out this dryer duct at least once a year—summer is the perfect time to perform this task.
7. Skip the dryer altogether
Use the warm weather to your advantage and hang your clothes outside to dry. You’ll save energy and avoid raising the temperature of your home with heat-generating appliances. Also, line-dried clothes smell like summer heaven.
8. Switch to LED bulbs
Incandescent bulbs can turn 90% of the energy they use into heat, making rooms in your home considerably warmer. LED bulbs operate at a lower wattage and produce half as much heat. They also use 75% less energy and last 50 times longer than traditional bulbs, saving you money on energy costs.
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9. Seal cracks and openings
To prevent warm air from leaking into your home, inspect your windows and doors for small openings and seal them with caulk or weatherstripping.
10. Turn down your water heater temperature
Water heating accounts for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120ºF) to save energy.
11. Trim your shrubs
According to John, “Shrubs need air flow and if they are covered, your units will run harder increasing your energy bills.” View our tree trimming 101 guide to get started.
Looking for more ways to save money around the house? Check out our cheapest home warranty guide.