We’re officially in the midst of the summer, and it’s looking like it’s going to be hot. Most indicators point to a hotter-than-average summer in fact. This is paired with the fact that consumers in the U.S. are dealing with the highest inflation in 40 years. We’re paying more for everything, including energy costs.
In May this year, energy costs were almost 35% higher than the previous year, with fuel oil and gas contributing the most to these increases.
Energy service costs are 16% more yearly, and electricity is 12% higher. It’s not going to be easy to stay cool this summer, so below are eight ways you can work on lowering your energy bills.
1. Get a Checkup for Your Air Conditioner
The better shape you’re A/C is in, the more efficient it will be. For example, clearing out a clogged unit filter can save you 5-15% energy usage. Your unit will function better for longer, so you can save on a replacement by extending its lifespan. Call a professional to service your unit.
2. Use Fans
Fans use about 1/60th the energy of your air conditioner. If you have any ceiling fans in your house, turn them on. You can save up to 40% on your electricity costs. Fans don’t cool the air like your A/C but pull body heat away from your skin. You can use your fans and your air conditioning to raise the thermostat a couple of degrees but still feel comfortable.
3. Check Your Laundry
Heating your water makes up around 18% of the energy you consume in your home.
When you’re doing laundry, first of all, make sure you’re doing full loads. You can do laundry less often. When you do end up doing loads, use cold water. You can also hang dry once in a while and save on your energy bills.
4. Don’t Use As Much Electricity During Peak Hours
Energy companies charge customers more for using electricity during what they define as peak hours. Peak hours are the times of day when demand is highest. You'll lower your monthly energy bills if you can schedule your energy use around these hours and use most of it during off-peak hours.
Off-peak hours are late night or early morning.
If it’s an especially hot day, usually when the temperature outside is more than 90 degrees, you might wait until after 6 p.m. to wash the dishes, cook or do laundry.
5. Shut Doors and Vents
If you’re at home, close the doors to rooms you’re not using. You should also close the A/C vents in those rooms, which will help your system operate more efficiently.
If you’re not wasting energy cooling those rooms no one’s in, then it’ll require less energy for you to stay comfortable.
6. Keep Your Blinds or Curtains Closed
During the day, when the sun is at its hottest and brightest, keep your blinds closed, particularly in parts of the home that get the most direct sunlight.
7. Use a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats are a great tool to make your home more energy-efficient and lower your bills. When you program your thermostat, you can set it for when you won’t be home or when you’ll be asleep. During those programmed times, it’ll set the temperature accordingly, so you’re not always having to make adjustments.
The Nest is a popular option for programmable thermostats, and according to the company, it can reduce your electric bills by as much as 20%.
8. Use LED Bulbs
Finally, if you have any incandescent bulbs in your house, it’s time to switch to LED. Incandescent bulbs are incredibly inefficient. Only around 10-15% of these bulbs' electricity is turned into light. The rest becomes wasted heat.
LED lights, by contrast, use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer. They also run cooler.