Is summer heat melting your game plan to reduce your electricity use? Did your gritty resolve to turn up the thermostat wilt with triple-digit temperatures?
Help is here! Energy Coach Alyssa and her four-legged cheerleader, Millie, have a game plan that will help you cut your electric bill and conserve energy.
Let’s not mince words. The fastest, most effective way to cut your electric bill when it’s hot outside is to turn up the thermostat. You may be comfy at 68° but it’s going to cost you. For every degree you bump up the temperature, you could cut your electric use by 2% or more. That’s most important from 3 to 8 p.m., the hottest part of the day and the time everyone in Texas is running their AC.
We’ve got plenty of ways to save energy around your house and put money back in your pocket.
Start with quick, simple changes, and work your way up to the larger investments that can make a significant difference in your power use in the long-term.
FREE WAYS TO SAVE
- Set your water heater temperature no higher than 120°F, or 115°F if there are only one or two people in the household.
- Save on the suds. Wash clothes in cold water and try to do only full laundry loads; if you must do smaller loads, adjust the water level to match the load size.
- Get comfortable using fans, which can make you feel up to 6° cooler. And don’t forget to turn the fans off in rooms you’re not using.
INEXPENSIVE WAYS TO SAVE
- Replace your HVAC filters monthly. Dirty filters, coils, and fans reduce airflow through HVAC systems. Reduced airflow decreases system performance, causing the HVAC system to run more frequently.
- Add insulation around electric wall plugs and wall switches with foam pads. If you have an attic, make sure your attic door is insulated. While you’re up here, consider beefing up or replacing old attic insulation and you could save up to 15% on your electric bill.
- Block out the sun with blackout curtains or blinds. Windows let the sun’s rays warm up air in our homes, so these window coverings can reduce additional radiative heating.
PRICIER UPGRADES FOR BIG SAVINGS
- If you’re replacing old or damaged appliances, do your research and buy Energy Star approved appliances. Look for the blue Energy Star label and review annual cost impacts to your electric bill.
- Time to replace your HVAC? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the most efficient air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made decades ago. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save 20% to 40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model. When buying an air conditioner, do your research and look for a high-efficiency model with a an Energy Star or EnergyGuide label.
- Fix up those leaky old ducts! If you’re installing a new HVAC system, ensure your contractor uses a duct-sizing methodology, installs duct work within the conditioned space (not in the attic) wherever possible; make sure that all ducts are sealed with duct mastic and are heavily insulated.
MILLIE’S PAWSITIVELY AWESOME PLAYS TO KEEP YOUR PET COOL
- On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours.
- Any time your pet is outside, make sure they have protection from heat and sun, as well as plenty of fresh, cold water.
- Keep your pet from overheating indoors or out with a cooling body wrap, vest, mat or raised bed.
- Plan outdoor summer activities with your pooch that involve some water play—sprinklers, pools or lakes can all be fun and cooling.
- Never leave your dog in a parked car in the summer, even if the windows are cracked! Even on milder days, temperatures inside vehicles can quickly rise to dangerous, life-threatening levels.
5 TIPS TO RACK UP POINTS AND SAVINGS
1. SEAL IT UP
Hot air can sneak in around windows, doors and electrical outlets. Weather stripping, insulation and insulated curtains can help keep the cool air in and the hot air out.
2. TURN ’EM OFF
Lights can eat up a chunk of your electric bill. If you are leaving the room, close those curtains, too.
3. GET SMART
Upgrade to a programmable or smart thermostat to better control your temperature settings. A smart thermostat lets you adjust the temperature with your smart phone and some thermostats can even learn and adapt to your habits.
4. KILL THE VAMPIRES
Computers, small appliances and electronic devices can silently eat electricity, even when they are in standby mode. Plug them into an advanced power strip and turn that off when the devices aren’t in use.
5. TOSS THE GARAGE FRIDGE
That extra refrigerator that holds cold drinks or other items is probably 1) old, 2) hot and 3) an energy guzzler. If you can’t live without it, consider yourself warned.