Ol’ Summertime Electricity Blues

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Summer is here. It has arrived and (for most of us) it is very hot. Which means you will be spending plenty of money to be less hot. This is tough, because electricity bills seem to be rising faster than the thermostat. This poses a tough little conundrum. How much should you have to pay just to feel comfortable.  Because we can’t just give up clothing (once again, most of us) here are a few tricks to stay cool and help you save each month on that electricity bill.

During the summer months, set your thermostat to 76-78 degrees when you’re home, and to ‘off’ when you’re not. By reducing the cooling load in this manner you’ll use 1-3% less energy per degree that the thermostat is set above 72. Ceiling or room fans are a great way to circulate air and keep you feeling just as cool as if the thermostat were set to a lower temperature!

18W CFLs use 76% less energy than 75W incandescent equivalents. Over the course of a year, that can add up to $8-$15 in savings per bulb replaced! 23W CFLs use 77% less energy than 100W incandescent equivalents. Over the course of a year that can easily add up to $10-$20 in savings per bulb! 13W CFLs use over 78% less energy than standard 60W incandescent bulbs. That means you can power about five CFLs on the power needed for a single incandescent bulb.

Try using cold water to wash your clothes! Not only will you save on the energy required to heat the water, but detergents formulated for cold water will get your clothes just as clean!

All electronics that are plugged in, whether they’re powered-on or not, are constantly drawing electricity. This continuous, low-level energy use is called a ‘phantom load’ and it can really add up over the course of a year. The Department of Energy estimates that as much as 43 billion kWh each year is wasted by phantom loads throughout the United States. Smart Strip power strips can help you eliminate the phantom loads of your peripheral devices – most commonly those associated with your computers or home entertainment centers by cutting power to them altogether when they are not in use. In many cases, they can pay for themselves in energy bill savings in just a matter of months!

Running your dishwasher at night is a great way to minimize energy demand during peak hours during the day. This means that your local power generation facilities can run at a more efficient capacity, thus minimizing their environmental impact. Depending on where you live and the type of electric meter your home is outfitted with, you may pay less for off-peak energy, making this a very easy way to save on your energy bills!

If you have doors that have more than a 1/4″ gap with the floor, draft guards are a cheap and practical way to keep heat from escaping rooms where you want it, and from getting in when you don’t! Keeping a tight seal around doors and windows is one of the best ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Keep shades drawn in south-facing rooms that aren’t occupied on days when you’re trying to keep your home cool. If you’re trying to keep your home warm on cold days, be sure to keep your shades drawn in unoccupied north-facing rooms. They may be thin, but they minimize energy transfer between your home and the outdoors pretty well!

Or you can just get a full assessment of how efficient your house really is. A home energy audit is the first step in making your home more energy efficient and cutting your utility bills. By understanding how your home is consuming energy, you’ll be able to pick the best projects to pursue and manage your budget most effectively. Typical energy audits will include an evaluation of your home’s heating and cooling systems, insulation, how tightly sealed it is, and a series of recommended actions to help you save water and electricity. You can perform a simple energy audit yourself using any number of sites on the internet, or for a few hundred dollars have a professional come in and generate a comprehensive report for you. Just remember, the audit itself won’t save you money on your bills; it’s up to you to you follow through with some of the recommended improvements!