Summer is here, it’s scorching hot outside, and only the luckiest among us have a pool. Short of pouring ice water over your head every few hours, there’s little to do other than retreat to the comfort of our homes where we can crank up the air conditioning.
There’s just one problem with this fix: If you lean too heavily on the air conditioner, you may regret it when your next energy bill arrives in the mail.
Fortunately, you can avoid summer melt without going broke. If you want to stay cool without a scary-high electric bill, you have to plan ahead. These eight tips can help you save on your summer air conditioning bill without being miserable.
According to the Energy Department, taking steps to conserve energy when you’re away from home is one of the best ways to save. To that end, you should turn the temperature in your house up while you’re gone for work.
The best way to do this is by investing in an automatic thermostat that adjusts the temperature when you want it to. Set the temperature hotter when you’re normally away from home, then have it cool down when you’re not at work. Over time, these energy savings will add up.
While a programmable thermostat can help you keep energy bills down, choose its location carefully. Don’t install your thermostat near televisions and other technology that might emit heat and convince your thermostat the temperature is higher than it is.
Energy.gov says ceiling fans offer another easy way to stay cool. Installing one can be a money-saver if you put it in a major living area of your home. But since fans cool people and not rooms, you should strive to turn off fans when you’re not in the room.
Also make sure your ceiling fan itself is energy efficient. If you can purchase an Energy Star ventilating fan, you could save money on the electricity required to power your fan.
If you can, consider going air-conditioner-free while you sleep. “If you live in a climate where it cools off at night, turn off your cooling system and open your windows while sleeping,” said the DOE on its blog. “When you wake in the morning, shut the windows and blinds to capture the cool air.”
If the sun pounds down on your home all day, window coverings could help. Install mini-blinds or curtains that reflect heat and prevent your home from bringing outside heat in.
Make sure your registers aren’t cluttered with furniture or curtains that prevent cooled air from entering your home. Also make sure they are clean and free of dust. Energy.gov suggests vacuuming your registers to remove dust regularly. Doing so will increase efficiency and keep your home cleaner in one fell swoop.
Check windows and doors for leaks that might let cold air escape. You can use the same weather stripping and caulk you use to keep heat in during winter to keep cold air in.
You can also consider replacing your windows if they are especially inefficient, but you should expect a huge upfront cost if you do. Your investment could pay off through energy savings over time, however. The experts at Energy.gov say heat gain and heat loss through windows causes 25% to 30% of residential heating and cooling energy use.
Avoid heating up your home if you can. This includes not using the oven whenever possible and looking for other ways to heat your food. It might be smart to plan meals that require minimal prep or only a cooktop or microwave.
Of course, you can also just grill out all summer instead. Firing up the grill is a summer mainstay anyway, so why not? Using a grill means less clean-up too, so you can spend less time on dishes and more time enjoying the outdoors.
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