This summer is predicted to offer above-normal temperatures to nearly all areas of the nation. With the temperature increasing, so does your utility bill. Instead of becoming compulsive about certain tasks you feel will help cut costs, here are a few simple ways to help lower your home temps and utility costs.
Limit Power Usage
Sometimes the solution to cutting utility costs boils down to using plain old-fashioned common sense.
Try to limit power usage to the evening. This is especially true on those brutally hot days. Most appliances produce heat, which will cause your air conditioner to work harder. For example, if you like to bake, a hot oven is going to force your air conditioner to work harder during the day to keep you cool. This is also applicable to clothes dryers and dishwashers.
If you can move energy-intensive chores, such as laundry, to low demand or off-peak times, prices on energy can be 5 to 25 percent lower.
Or, you could even go retro with a crockpot. Slow cookers use less energy and will help you avoid turning your kitchen into, well, a hot oven. This method of cooking has great benefits in the flavor department. Done right, it really does offer a win-win situation.
Don’t ever cool an empty house. If you have a programmable thermostat, set your temperatures to kick on when you’re home and off when you’re away. Close off any rooms you aren’t occupying to keep the air occupied to cooling your individual spaces.
Believe it or not, ceiling fans are not a good alternative to keeping your place cool when away. This is because they don’t cool your home. They circulate air to make you feel cooler. Letting the blades spin for hours when you’re gone adds to your electric bill.
Chances are, you have a few electric fans stowed away. These require far less power than your air conditioning system. Position these fans in the direction you want your air to flow. Simply circulating it will do the trick. However, if you really want to push out the hot air, position the fan upward to remove it.
Perform Routine Vent Upkeep
Make sure to always check the vents in your home. This is most applicable for those who have central air conditioning and/or heat.
Some may be closed. As simple and silly as this may be, experts say this is the main culprit behind less efficiently run units. Why? Most people assume the vents are open. Whether a house guest or occupant closed the vent at one point or another, typically you’ll find a few that are no longer open.
There are a few people who believe closing vents will reduce energy consumption by preventing the need to cool a room. This is a myth. Closing vents will cause your system to work harder and raise your utility costs.
Your vents rely heavily on their air filter counterparts to keep from blasting unwanted debris all over your home. If not changed out monthly, these will prevent ideal airflow. These can be bought in bulk and average $1-2 per filter. Just make sure to measure the size of your vents before heading to the store.
Dedicate Time for Home Maintenance
The best way to keep your air conditioner running at peak efficiency is dedicating a weekend or two, once a year, to maintenance and upkeep. This is applicable to both your home and the unit itself.
Doing routine tune-ups and fixes to your system can save you up to $65 a year on electric costs. These tasks include cleaning and straightening out the fins, changing the filter and lubricating the motor.
Consider tacking on an additional few hours creating a more efficient location for your unit. For example, if your air conditioner is placed in direct sunlight, this could mean up to 10 percent more electrical usage. If this is the case, plant tall shrubs or shade trees nearby. Just don’t enclose the unit or impede the airflow.
Take time to seal up the cracks around your doors and windows. Close off these money leakers using basic caulk and weather-stripping. According to Consumer Reports, this basic home maintenance task can reduce your energy costs by 15 to 30 percent.
Sure, planting trees is sweaty work. But it can, in the end, help you beat the heat and put cash back in your wallet. In fact, according to the USDA Forest Service, shade from three properly positioned trees can save the average household $100-$250 a year in utility costs. You’re creating shade, which will eventually cool off your home as the trees grow. Pro tip? Plant deciduous trees that shed leaves for heat during the cold winter months.
What it boils down to is the old mindful expression: you must give to receive. If you truly want to reduce costs, you must put in a bit of time and effort to do so.
There is no workaround or technique for creating efficiency with older appliances. Every one of our family of brands’ homes come with up-to-date, energy efficient appliances. All backed by our new home warranty.
Need a few more useful tips for controlling utility costs? We offered some handy tips just a couple years ago.