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As summer approaches, high energy usage and electricity bills loom over the heads of most homeowners. Air conditioning, air leaks, and water heating costs can add up quickly, leaving homeowners with a hefty bill at the end of the month. Have no fear! We’re here to cover some great ways that teach you how to save energy in summer.
If someone told you that you could decrease your electric bill by up to 50%, would you believe them? It isn’t a scam – you actually can reduce your utility costs, even in triple-digit temperatures. Homeowners across YouTube and home improvement forums have tested and done it for themselves. By being smart about their energy costs in summer, some homeowners have seen their bills drop by up to 60%!
12 Ways to Save Energy in Summer
Ensure that your AC is working to the fullest potential
Did you know that AC is the largest source of electricity costs for most households? In the southern states, air conditioning accounts for 27% of total utility costs. It makes sense to keep your air conditioning system working to its fullest potential.
You should schedule HVAC (heating, ventilating, air conditioning) maintenance every year. It’s best to do the maintenance work before the summer season – in early spring. The technician will usually have a checklist of items to complete, like testing for failing components, clearing obstructions, and improving the system’s overall performance. Each of these factors can help save energy in summer.
To improve the performance yourself, make sure that no interior AC vents are manually closed or blocked by furniture. Keep the inside doors of your home open, and make sure that leaves or other debris don’t block the outside AC unit. This will result in better circulation and cheaper utility bills. If your AC unit has a filter, make sure to change it every three months.
During the day, block the sunlight coming through windows
If you live in a hot and dry state where it’s common for temperatures to hit triple digits, metal blackout shutters are a great investment. They’re a little expensive, but will block out most of the sunlight coming through the windows. This alone can reduce AC costs by up to 20%.
If you’re living in a seasonal climate where temperatures only rise in summer, blackout curtains and shades are a more affordable alternative. These will block out most of the sunlight and aren’t as expensive as shutters.
Tip: If your home has southern windows that let in direct sunlight, make sure to close the curtains during the hottest parts of the day!
Save energy with thermal blackout curtains.
Use your thermostat wisely
Assuming your AC is operating at peak performance, you can use your thermostat to save money on utility costs. This is the most important tip out of all energy saving tips for summer.
To maximize your energy savings, set the thermostat to 78 degrees when you’re home. If you don’t have pets, you can let the temperature rise to around 83 degrees when you’re away. For every degree above 78, you can save up to 8% of the AC’s total energy consumption. Better yet, you could turn off your AC entirely when you’re not home.
To make the job easier, you could get a programmable thermostat. You can easily set it up to change the temperature during your work hours so you don’t have to change it manually before you leave in the morning.
Keep electronics away from the temperature sensors. Sometimes the temperature sensors are located in direct sunlight, or near TVs, lights, or other electronics which radiate heat. This tricks the thermostat in thinking the temperature is higher than it actually is. By strategically positioning electronics, you can save energy in summer and lower your utility bills.
By using your thermostat wisely and turning up the temperature, you can save anywhere from 10 to 30% on your energy costs during the summer.
Myth: Turning the thermostat to a colder temperature doesn’t cool the room any faster – it just uses more energy unnecessarily.
Upgrade to LED bulbs
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 10% of total U.S. energy costs stem from lighting alone.
Did you know that LED bulbs use more than five times less energy compared to regular incandescent bulbs? On top of that, LED bulbs last 25 times longer and cost six times less over a 20-year period.
For example, a regular 60W bulb would cost $211 over 20 years. An LED bulb would only use $34 in energy over the same amount of time.
Naturally, you should aim to switch all of your regular incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. If your house uses 20 light bulbs, for example, you would save $177 every year just by switching to LED lighting. That comes out to more than $3,500 in savings over a 20-year period!
Get plenty of bulbs with this 24-pack of LED light bulbs .
Get rid of all significant air leaks
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home can lose up to 25% of its cold air through leaky windows alone. Now think of all the other potential air leaks, like doors, the attic, the chimney, plumbing connections, and more. In some homes, fixing all the air leaks can result in some serious energy savings.
You can eliminate air leaks by seating and insulating all doors and windows in your home. Applying foam and rubber stripes around the edges will help get rid of the most common air leaks.
Finding less common air leaks requires a little testing. On a windy day, light a candle and walk around the most common air leakage places – dropped ceilings, window frames, door frames, the attic entrance, the chimney, electrical outlets, plumbing, and anywhere else you can think of. Whenever the flame starts leaning horizontally, you’ve found an air leak.
You can fix these other, less common air leaks without spending a fortune. Use spray foam for larger crevices. For smaller cracks, use caulk and weather strips. Install rubber sealants on the bottom of your doors. Finally, seal the most significant spots with fiberglass or rock wool.
Tip: Make sure to use fireproof materials around the chimney and fireplace.
Use ceiling fans with a counterclockwise rotation
Ceiling fans can make a world of difference when it comes to how cool it feels in a room. Fans don’t actually cool the air, but the breeze they generate makes it feel more refreshing. In fact, studies have shown that ceiling fans can make a room feel up to 10 degrees cooler than it actually is.
In summer, you should set your ceiling fan to run counterclockwise on a fast setting. This will push the cold air down. Make sure to turn the fans off while you’re not in the room.
Tip: Although this doesn’t belong in “summer energy saving tips,” while we’re on the subject of ceiling fans, you should run them clockwise on a slow setting in the winter.
Make sure that your fan turns in both directions and has speed adjustments before making a purchase!
Prepare your food with less energy
Preparing your food amounts to a lot of wasted energy, especially in summer. Whenever you pop something in the oven, the kitchen can heat up by an additional 10 degrees. The increase in temperature makes the AC work harder to cool the room back to its normal temperature.
Ideally, you should use a microwave whenever possible. A microwave uses one-third of the energy that an oven does, and it won’t heat up the kitchen.
If microwaves aren’t your thing, you should make food outside on a grill. A standing grill and a bag of charcoal can be enough for a summer of meals. Not only will this result in less wasted energy, but you’ll prepare savvier dinners too!
Wash and dry your clothes with less electricity
Water heating is one of the most expensive utilities your household has. To be precise, water heating amounts to around 14% of the total cost of U.S. household utility bills. Running the washer with hot water can be a prime culprit in higher energy costs.
To save some money on water heating, you should wash your clothes in cold or cool water. Make sure to always to wash your clothes in full loads – gather up dirty clothes from the week and wash on the weekends. To further reduce heat generated by doing laundry, you should wash your clothes in the evenings or overnight when the temperature is lower.
Ideally, you should skip the dryer altogether. Instead, hang-dry your clothes (they dry pretty quick in the summer). If you prefer to use the dryer, try to do it in the evenings.
Unplug unused freezers and other electronics
Many households have a second freezer in the basement or garage. Typically, it’s used to freeze berries, meat, vegetables, and other foods that will go bad over winter or if not eaten. In summer, if the freezer isn’t in use, unplug it. If left plugged in and not in use, a second freezer can use unnecessary electricity.
Even if you’re not using the TV, sound system, microwave, or toaster, they’re still using energy. It’s called idle energy, and it amounts to an additional $165 in each U.S. household’s electricity bills every year. To avoid it, you should develop a habit of unplugging all unused electronics.
Constantly unplugging electronics can be frustrating though. A smart power strip is a great (and affordable) solution. You can plug several devices into one power strip and turn it off with the push of a button when the electronics aren’t in use.
Save energy in your garden
There are plenty of ways to save energy in your garden. If you have a pool, for example, you should switch from regular filters to a new water-saving filter. Over time, the new filter can save hundreds of gallons of water. Use a pool cover to avoid losing water due to evaporation. If your pool is heated, turn the temperature down to about 80 degrees.
Although this doesn’t work instantly, you should start thinking about smart landscaping. The main idea is to plant trees and bushes near your walls and windows to block the sunlight. You should plant something near your outside AC vent so that it stays in a cool shade. Consider it a long-term investment.
Whenever you need to water your grass and plants, make sure to do it in the dusk or the dawn. A lot of the sprinkled water evaporates into the hot air. As a rule of thumb, you should water your lawn twice a week at most.
TIP: Use solar-powered lights for your garden. They’re not too expensive and add an elegant touch to any landscape.
Light up your garden without increasing your electric bill with solar-powered garden lights.
Be smart about water usage
We’ve already touched on how water heating is the second largest summer energy culprit, right behind air conditioning. If you’re smart about your water usage, you can save hundreds of dollars each year. Taking a hands-on approach and turning the dial down on your water heater can help save money over a long period of time.
Many water heaters are set to either a high temperature of the “very hot” setting. Change the temperature to around 120 degrees or the “medium” or “hot” setting instead. Test the water temperature to make sure you’re still comfortable!
Take a shower in the hottest shower setting. If it’s too hot, turn the boiler dial down accordingly. Some people are even turning off their water heater when they’re away, but that’s often too much of an inconvenience. It makes sense to do it while you’re on vacation, though.
Shower Heads: Check out the different types of water-saving shower heads.
To save some water, avoid hand-washing your dishes. It turns out that the dishwasher uses around one-sixth of the total consumed water compared to hand-washing. Run the dishwasher overnight before going to sleep. The air is colder by then, and less radiated heat results in lower AC costs.
Ventilate and insulate your attic
We’ve briefly discussed sealing potential air leaks, but attics often call for a different approach. To recap, by insulating your attic, floors, and other potential air leaks around the house, you could save up to 20% of your total heating and cooling costs.
Sealing the attic isn’t a smart approach though. Improperly insulated and unventilated attics can heat up to 160 degrees on 100-degree summer days. If you don’t properly separate these “hot-boxes” from your house, they’ll leak out hot air, and your AC costs will be higher.
The first step to properly separate the attic from the rest of your house is to insulate the attic’s floor. You can use fiberglass, cellulose, mineral wool, spray foam, and other insulating materials. Make sure to seal the cracks as well. Doing so will help keep your house cool and save energy in summer.
Next, you should properly ventilate your attic. A simple vent in a wall will do just fine. If you want to take it up a notch, you could install an attic fan, which works even better.
Identify leaks with the Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector.
12 Ways to Save Energy In Summer
We’ve listed off a dozen tips to help keep your home cool and save energy in summer, but we don’t expect most homeowners to take each tip to heart. Instead, here’s a quick recap of the most important tips that’ll save you more money during summer:
- Ensure that your AC has clear airflow and a clean filter.
- Don’t set the thermostat lower than 78 degrees – turn it up when you’re not home.
- Get rid of all the major air leaks – insulate doors, windows, and make sure to properly ventilate your attic.
- Be smart about your water usage – careful in the garden!
- Close the window shades during the day.
- Switch all of your lights to LED bulbs.
- Hang-dry clothes to avoid using the dryer.
- Unplug unused electronics.
During summer, running the AC makes up a major portion of your utility bill. AC is so significant that it can amount to a $500 increase in your monthly utility bills over summer. Make sure to use it wisely! That, combined with following these other tips, can help you save up to 60% on your summer utility bills.