How to keep your energy bill low despite being home all summer
By Sian Babish
May 30, 2020 at 9:06 AM
With summer temperatures upon us, you might be excited for the sunshine and warmer weather -- but dreading the jump in your energy bills.
Running fans and AC units can get expensive, especially when you spend more time indoors and require ongoing climate control and comfort.
But staying cool this summer doesn't have to be pricey or complicated. In fact, with a few changes to your daily routine, you'll be able to save money on your upcoming energy bills by reducing your AC use.
Ready to jumpstart the season with cost-effective coolness? Here's a guide on how to life-hack your energy bill this summer.
Summer sunshine is invigorating, but it quickly elevates room temperatures. One way to keep rays at bay is to invest in energy-saving curtains to curb AC use. Light-filtering curtains help minimize how much light enters the room. If you'd like to block out light all together, blackout curtains are the better option, as they're foam-backed to prevent light penetration all together.
Switch to LED lights
Consider outfitting your home with LED light bulbs. While inexpensive to purchase, incandescent light bulbs consume significantly more energy than LEDs and will heat up a space when they're on. LEDs cost more money up front; however, they last much longer and, over time, will help reduce your electricity bill.
Seal off rooms
If you have window or freestanding AC units, get in the habit of "sealing off" rooms when the unit is running. If you're spending the majority of the day in one room, close the door to keep cool air inside it. By reducing the square footage of the intended cooling area, the unit is able to operate more efficiently.
Add a smart thermostat to your home, like Google Nest or Ecobee. These devices regulate temperature without expending more energy than necessary, as they establish set points to turn AC or heat off and on. Smart thermostats also learn your behaviors to optimize temperature regulation accordingly -- and can save you a couple hundred dollars annually by doing so.
Invest in fans
While running AC at full blast feels like the best solution to keep cool, you can actually achieve coolness at a fraction of the price by using it with a quality fan. This dramatically improves air circulation, as it aids in evenly dispersing cooled air to achieve the comfortable atmosphere you desire. Portable fans are especially helpful, as they're inexpensive and draw little electricity.
Stovetop cooking is an easy way to heat up your kitchen by as much as 10 degrees. Instead of cranking up the AC to cool down the kitchen, minimize the heat dispersal instead. Simply turn on your exhaust fan while cooking. Not only will it absorb odors, the exhaust fan draws in hot air before it dissipates to help maintain the optimal room temperature.
Consider investing in Energy Star units
If you're investing in big-ticket updates to your home, put Energy Star appliances, including AC systems, at the top of your list. Energy Star-certified appliances meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA. These units are engineered to optimize performance and operation, which in turn helps lower electricity costs.
Invest in solar panels
You can save in more than one way by installing solar panels on your home. Solar panels can help to reduce your energy costs by $400 to $4,000 annually. Depending on your state's energy credit programs, you may be eligible for tax credits when you install solar panels as well.
Leaving electronics on all day, even when they're in sleep mode, draws unnecessary electricity. If you don't plan on using your television or computer within an hour, turn them off -- or use a smart plug that can turn them off for you. All you need is a smart home device with voice control. With that said, frequently turning devices off and on causes a power surge, which can drive up your electricity bill -- so optimize your "power-on" time.
Stick to chilled beverages
Many favorite cold-weather beverages can be enjoyed chilled? Swap your morning mug for cold-brew coffee or iced tea. If you'd like to imbibe, try your hand at making mixed drinks with ice in your blender, such as mojitos or frozen margaritas.
Give your bedroom a summer audit: are you still using winter bedding? If so, it's time to switch to a cooler setup. Swap the down blankets and polar fleece throws for lightweight cotton sheets and cooling pillows. If you really want to stay as cool as possible, the Tempur-Breeze mattress by Tempur-Pedic stays three to eight degrees cooler than other mattresses. If possible, stick to light-colored bedding, as these shades absorb far less heat than darker ones.
Use a grill instead of the oven
Like stovetops, ovens increase the temperature of the kitchen. This means your AC has to work harder (and more expensively) to cool the room due to the increased heat load -- so head outdoors to grill instead. Not only do you save money by not turning up the AC, you'll feel instantly refreshed and cooled once you return indoors to the cooler atmosphere after grilling.
Open a window
During cooler days, turn off your AC and open up windows and doors instead (provided you have screens to keep critters at bay). To promote air circulation, leave doors open throughout your home so air can travel throughout hallways and spread into rooms that don't have windows.
Energy audit for insulation
An energy audit may be instrumental in fixing your home's energy consumption and electricity bills. One reason people spend so much money on energy bills is due to lack of adequate insulation, which only causes heat or cool air to escape. By re-insulating your home where necessary, from the basement up to the roof, you'll save big on keeping air where it belongs -- indoors.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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