Summer is here, and along with all the fun stuff comes an annual spike in our electric bills. To keep more money in your pocket for road trips, pool visits and ice cream, here are five no-cost tips to cut your summer energy costs:
Avoid placing lamps or TV sets near your thermostat. If the thermostat senses heat from these appliances, the air conditioner will run longer than necessary.
Don’t leave the fan running when you’re not in the room. A ceiling fan doesn’t change the temperature of a room, it just creates a draft to make you feel cooler. Of course, if the room is empty, no one will be there to enjoy the breeze you’re paying for. (Bonus tip: In the summer, the fan should run counter-clockwise from your position, looking up at it. This will create a gentle downdraft.)
Close the blinds or shades. The hot midday sun will not play nice with your air conditioner. In fact, it will make it work a lot harder to cool your home. Kick it out of your house by closing the blinds or shades.
Turn off unnecessary lights. Light bulbs not only illuminate your home, they can heat it too. Up to 90 percent of the energy consumed by an incandescent bulb is given off as heat, so don’t leave them on when you’re not in the room. While you’re at it, switch your light bulbs to CFLs or LEDs, and you’ll save even more money.
Use, don’t abuse, your AC. It’s a myth that if you go out for part of the day, it’s better to keep your AC running because then, when you get home, your AC won’t have to work harder to quickly cool a warm house. The truth is that, even for a quick errand like a trip to the grocery store, you’ll save a lot of energy by turning off the AC and then turning it back on when you get home.
It’s also a myth that you should crank your air conditioner to 50 degrees to cool the house more quickly. The air conditioner will deliver cool air at the same rate no matter how you set it. The Natural Resources Defense Council has a clever analogy: If driving from Chicago to Springfield, you wouldn’t set your GPS to St. Louis in hopes of getting to the State Capitol any quicker. There is an exception: room air conditioners that have a “low, medium, and high” setting instead of a thermostat. Still, make sure to turn down the AC when you get the room to a comfortable temperature.
Of course, there’s a lot more you can do to cut your costs. Our free tool, CUB Energy Saver, can help you create an action plan to reduce your energy bills year round.
Have an energy-saving secret you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments. Have a great summer!