The first official day of summer may not be until June 21, but for most of Michigan it sure feels like summer is already upon us. As temperatures rise, so too does our energy use as we try to beat the heat.
The trouble is all that increased energy use can mean higher utility bills for consumers and an increased strain for our state’s electric grid. These factors have a significant impact on reliability and affordability, making summer a particularly important time to practice energy efficiency.
Before you crank up the A/C, check out these 7 tips for a cool and energy-efficient summer. Want to print out these tips? Click here.
Even during the summer, many parts of the state get significantly cooler at night. Instead of running the air conditioner 24/7, try opening windows while you sleep to let the cool air in and give your A/C system a break. Then, shut windows in the morning to trap the cool air inside your home. Be sure to install and use window coverings—like drapes, curtains, or blinds—during the day to keep heat outside where it belongs.
Use ceiling fans instead of the A/C when possible—they use less energy and can provide a significant cooling effect. If you need the A/C, using a ceiling fan can allow you to raise the temperature by 4° with no reduction in comfort, according to the Department of Energy. However, remember to turn off fans when you leave as they only cool people—not rooms—through a wind chill effect. Also, using spot ventilation—in the bathroom when you shower, for example—can help draw heat and humidity out of the house.
Traditional incandescent light bulbs turn 90 percent of the energy they use directly into heat, which can cause indoor temperatures to climb considerably. Instead, replace older bulbs with LED ones—they use 75 percent less energy and last 50 times longer than regular light bulbs, “saving you money on electricity and replacement costs.”
Summer is the perfect time for a barbeque and burgers on the grill—and cooking outside can help save energy and keep your home cooler as well. Using an oven or stovetop to cook can increase your kitchen’s temperature by up to 10°, forcing you to keep cranking up the A/C just to stay cool. Instead, turn off the lights, take family night outdoors, and make it a cookout to remember.
If you do find yourself cooking indoors, try using smaller appliances to cook more and your stove and oven less. A microwave, for example, uses one-third of the energy as an oven, while producing a fraction of the heat. If you need to bake, try making smaller portions that you can make in a toaster oven. Slow cookers are also great for reducing energy use and saving on energy costs—while working at lower temperatures to keep your kitchen cooler.
Set your thermostat for as high as possible while still comfortable—and remember that using ceiling fans will let you set it for higher than you might normally think. In the summer, a setting of 78° is recommended, but that should only be when you are home. While away, set the temperature higher. Investing in a programmable thermostat can help you regulate indoor temperatures and save roughly $180 annually in energy costs.
With these tips in mind, you can keep cool and energy efficient all summer long. What do you do around the house to stay cool while saving energy? Let us know! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.