In a perfect world, the temperature would never get above 80 or sink below 60. But as it is, the summer days we look forward to come with a cost. And that cost is seen most clearly in the electric bill.
Fortunately, there are ways to cut your electricity bill, even in the dog days of summer. Here’s how.
- Use window AC units when possible. A window unit uses far less energy to cool the same sized space as a central air conditioning system. You can also save money by not having to cool every room in the house—instead, cool just the ones you use.
- Don’t use AC in the basement. Basements are naturally cool, so close the vents. It might not be as cool as the rest of the house, but remember, this is summer. Things are supposed to be a little warm, not a little cold.
- Have your AC serviced regularly. A little maintenance can go a long way. Leaves, seeds, dirt and debris can make your unit work 10 or 15 percent harder than it needs to.
- Think beyond the AC. There are other ways to keep your home cool besides blasting the cool air. During the day, draw the shades to prevent the sun from driving up temperatures up in your home. A dehumidifier can take the stuffiness out of the air. And don’t forget about fans—circulating air increases how quickly and efficiently a room or house cools down.
- Invest in a programmable thermostat. They cost less than $30—but automating temps can save you hundreds of dollars every year.
- Regularly change your furnace filters. Fresh filters capture dust, pollen and dirt before they reach your HVAC system. This ultimately helps improve the efficiency of the HVAC, which will help lower your electricity bill. Check out the manufacturer’s recommendations on how often you should change your filter—and consider buying a permanent, washable filter to save even more over the long term.
- Switch your washing machine’s cycle to cold. You can save up to $150 a year by doing so—and many experts say it doesn’t make your clothes any less clean.
- Skip the dryer. If it’s a warm, sunny day and you have a clothesline, there’s no reason to run the dryer.
- Unplug, unplug, unplug. Anything plugged into a wall uses electricity—even when it’s turned off. For that reason, it’s a good idea to only plug in less frequently used devices when they’re actually in use. Before you go to bed, walk through your home and unplug any device that’s not in use in addition to turning off any lights.
- Read your meter. Periodically check your meter to make sure it matches up with what the electricity company is charging you.
While we’ll look over some electricity-saving devices in an upcoming post, the general rule of thumb is to use less while staying comfortable. Ask yourself if you need your house to be so cool or whether the water you're using really needs to be so hot.
In the next post, learn how to use less water and save money on your water bill.