We’re definitely in the dog days of summer now. Temperatures are climbing—and so are energy costs as we struggle to beat the heat.
Here are our top 10 tips for cutting energy costs even while the summer continues to heat up.
1. Seal air leaks and add insulation. In the summer, air leaks let cool, air-conditioned air out while allowing hot, outside air in. Air sealing your home can help you save energy and “an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs.” The Department of Energy (DOE) has some great resources to help you learn more about detecting air leaks, caulking, weatherstripping, and insulation.
2. Maintain your air conditioner. Change your air conditioning filter once a month during the summer. According to the DOE, replacing a dirty filter can “lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.” Also, having a professional check out your unit can help ensure it’s working as effectively as possible.
3. Use ceiling fans. Using a ceiling fan in conjunction with your air conditioning will “allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.” Also, make sure your ceiling fan is turning counter-clockwise during the summer so it circulates the cooler air down.
4. Install a programmable thermostat. If you can, installing a programmable thermostat can “save you about $180 annually in energy costs.” A programmable thermostat allows you to better control the temperature in your home, raising it while you are away from home or asleep.
5. Close blinds and curtains. Especially on “south- and west-facing windows,” closing blinds and curtains will help keep the summer sun out of the home—meaning your air conditioner will have less work to do to keep your home cool.
6. Use energy-efficient light bulbs. Replacing burned-out traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient ones can help you save money while improving your personal energy efficiency. Energy-efficient bulbs “typically use about 25% – 80% less energy” than traditional ones.
7. Open the windows (but only when the A/C is off). This tip only applies “if you live in a climate where it cools off at night,” which luckily includes much of Michigan. At night, open your windows and let nature be your air conditioner. Then, in the morning, “shut the windows and blinds to capture the cool air.”
8. Don’t go crazy with the A/C. During the summer, “it is generally recommended that you set your home’s cooling system to 78 degrees” when you’re at home. Then, be sure to raise the temperature when you leave—the more, the better. “For every degree higher you set your thermostat over 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months, you could save approximately six to eight percent off your home energy bill, per degree.”
9. Don’t add to the heat. Why make a hot situation hotter by using an oven that will only raise the temperature in your home? That’s why the DOE suggests people “avoid using the oven” on hot days. Instead, “cook on the stove, use a microwave, or grill outside.”
10. Maximize efficiencies. This one covers a lot. Take advantage of daylight by not turning on lights until it’s dark. Wait until you have a full load of dishes or laundry before you wash them and consider air drying both. Take short showers instead of baths to minimize use of hot water.
What do you do around the house to save energy and money? Let us know if we missed any good tips!