We don’t know about you but where we live there are people who opened their electric bills last month and almost fainted with shock. Our electric utility has gone to three-tier pricing so that the more power we use the more we pay. Even if your utility has not done the same thing, we’re pretty sure your electric bill is much higher in the summer than in the winter because the hotter it gets the more we crank up the air-conditioning.
But air-conditioning isn’t the only culprit. There are other things throughout your house that contribute to the increases you get in your electricity bills during the summer. In fact, if you just walk around your apartment or house with a keen eye, you’ll probably discover something in nearly every room that’s costing you money.
If you’d like to stop throwing away money by conserving energy here are seven very simple things you could do that would help slash your utility bills this summer.
1. Get your system cleaned
If you have central heating and air-conditioning the odds are that you run your system most of the year. As a result, it gets dirty from circulating all that air throughout your home. If you don’t clean your system, as well as the vents throughout your house, you’re sure to get a nasty build-up that will keep your system from running at 100% efficiency. It’s not that expensive to hire a technician to inspect and clean your system. If your system also has mildew and grime it’s not only costing you money, it’s also downright unhealthy.
2. Replace your filter
If your home has central air-conditioning, you need to be diligent about changing your filter on a regular basis. It’s one of the most significant parts of your central air-conditioning and heating system. It’s called a filter because that’s what it does – it filters out contaminants, household dust and outdoor soot particles. When it becomes clogged your entire system has to work harder. Changing the filter during the summer is far less expensive than the additional amount of money you’re paying your electricity provider because your system is working at less than 100% efficiency. You can buy filters for your air conditioning system at just about any hardware store and it’s best to replace it at least every three months.
3. Turn on the fans and turn off the AC
You’re in a pretty good position if you have overhead fans throughout your house. They represent a terrific way to reduce your electric bill because instead of running the air conditioner you could just turn them on to circulate air throughout any room and have a nice, cooling breeze. All you need to do is open some windows and switch on your fans. Most are adjustable making it easy for you to get just as much circulating air as you want. If your home or apartment doesn’t have overhead fans, then get a couple of oscillating fans to keep the air moving whenever you’re at home. The electricity required to power overhead or oscillating fans will be much less than running that central AC.
4. Caulk the leaks
If you did that walk around your home suggested earlier in this article you may have seen cracks around your windows and doors. If this is the case you’re spending more money than necessary because of the air that’s escaping through them. Your air conditioner has to work harder to make up for those leaks, which is costing you money. Start by going back and checking the obvious places such as areas around your windows and doors., Also, be sure to check out areas that are not-so-obvious like electrical sockets and baseboards. Get a caulking gun or foam caulking and patch any areas where you feel you may be losing air. This will cost you just pennies and could save you dollars.
If you’ve never caulked before, here’s a video showing how to caulk baseboards. You could also use this information to caulk around doors and windows.
4. Get a programmable thermostat
If you have central air and you’re typical you probably don’t turn it down when you go to work so you don’t have to come home to a house that feels like the inside of a kiln. You can avoid this and cut your electric bill by installing a programmable thermostat. You would set it to turn down the air-conditioning while you’re at work and then back up maybe an hour before you’re due home. Some of these thermostats like the Nest don’t even require you to set them. They will learn your living habits and then regulate your air-conditioning accordingly.
5. Unplug your electronics and cut your electric bill
All those home entertainment systems, computers, monitors and flat screen TVs that make your life so much more enjoyable actually use electricity even when they’re turned off. If you have a lot of electronics in your home, it’s important to unplug them when you’re not using them. The easiest way to do this is to plug as many of them as possible into power strips so that all you have to do is turn off the strips. Then, when you’re ready to use all those wonderful devices, all you will need to do is turn on the strips.
6. Cook outdoors
Cooking in the kitchen puts a big drain on your air-conditioning system because of what it needs to do to offset the heat that’s generated when you use your stove and oven. In fact, if you run your oven this automatically raises the temperature in your kitchen by at least two to four degrees. You can cut your electric bill by planning some cold meals such as sandwiches or veggie or pasta salads. If eating cold doesn’t particularly appeal to you, then fire up the grill. Prep the chicken, steaks, burgers or fish in the kitchen, then take them outside and pop them on the grill. You’ll save money while getting to enjoy those nice, cool summer evenings.
7. Wash your clothes in cold water
Believe it or not you can wash almost all of your clothes in cold water. When you do this you not only cut your energy cost by as much as 90% you can toss in both your whites and colors without having to worry about colors bleeding into any white items. That’s a risk only with hot water settings. When you’re washing clothes, you could go a bit further to but your electric bill and not use the dryer. Instead, hang everything on a clothesline or with hangers so that they air dry. It will take longer than if you use your dryer but with temperatures now up into the 90s it won’t take as long as you might imagine.