Summertime is here, and that means longer days, fun times with family, and, unfortunately, sky-high energy bills.
That’s especially true since increasing temps and global unrest are pushing your electricity bills even higher. Consider that the warmest years on record in the U.S. have come from 2015-2021, and 2023 is on pace to sizzle as well.
You bear the brunt of that when it’s time to pay your energy bill every month, so it’s important to make sure your home is as efficient as possible.
And the vast majority of your energy bill comes from your home’s heating and cooling system, which means sky-high electricity costs in warm summer months.
So, go down this list of summertime energy efficiency for savings and relief:
Your air conditioner needs regular maintenance to function properly and efficiently, and that’s even more true when temperatures climb. So, enlist the help of a reputable heat and air company to service your air conditioning unit at least once per year.
If you still run into issues even after servicing your heat and ac system, it may be time to replace the unit. In fact, the Department of Energy recommends that you replace your entire HVAC system every 10-15 years to maximize efficiency.
Some of the telltale signs that your air conditioning unit needs to be replaced include lackluster cooling, poor air quality, an imbalance in heating or cooling, and if it needs to be repaired frequently.
The good news is that by upgrading to a new, Energy Star-rated air conditioning unit, you should see 20 years of optimal heating and cooling as well as about 20% savings on your energy bills!
Ideally, any maintenance or an upgrade will come in the spring, before your system starts being overly taxed with sizzling summer temperatures. Likewise, HVAC companies are typically fully booked in late spring, all through summer, and into fall, so the last thing you want is the AC to go out on the hottest days of summer, leaving you scrambling (and waiting) to get it fixed.
So, contact your trusted HVAC company in early spring to schedule!
2. DIY maintenance
Vacuuming air vents periodically will remove dust and debris, allowing better airflow and maximizing HVAC efficiency. You also want to make sure that furniture, lamps, and wall art aren’t too close to vents, which could block airflow. Additionally, keep your television and other appliances away from your thermostat, which will pick up the extra heat and force your AC to run longer than necessary.
3. Replace AC filters
One of the easiest and fastest ways to make sure your AC is running well is to change the filter. Filters become clogged and dirty, which inhibits airflow and reduces your air conditioner’s capacity to absorb heat. Just by replacing an air filter monthly, you could potentially lower your AC’s energy usage by up to 15%!
4. Switch to LED lightbulbs
Incandescent (traditional) light bulbs waste a lot of energy (and money). In fact, only about 10-15% of the electricity that reaches your light bulbs is ever converted into light, with the rest generating unnecessary heat.
So, by switching to LED lights, you’ll use 75% less electricity for your lighting, as well as keeping your home cooler. LED lights also last 25 times longer than traditional lights so the investment pays off.
5. Use a smart thermostat
Every time you turn the thermostat down one degree, it actually increases your energy usage by 6-8%. Of course, you need AC and a comfortable home during summer months, but a smart thermostat will allow you to optimize AC usage while also saving energy and money. For instance, you can set the thermostat to use less AC during the day when people are at work or school and turn off during early morning hours when it’s cool and your family is sleeping. A smart thermostat will automatically adjust to your patterns and usage to ensure energy savings.
6. Use fans to enhance air conditioning
On the hottest days and seasons, it’s a good idea to turn on fans to augment your air conditioning. Your AC will go much further (and feel cooler) with better airflow when ceiling fans or even stationary fans are on. It’s estimated that running fans along with AC allows you to keep your thermostat about 4°F higher while feeling just as comfortable.
Running a fan is also energy efficient – it would only cost you about $5 to keep the fan on 24/7 for a month!
7. Make sure your home is sealed
When we think of properly insulating your home, winter and cold weather months probably comes to mind. But a lot of your cold air is escaping through the cracks as well, forcing your AC to work harder and allowing hot air to enter. That’s just wasted money – up to 30% of cooling costs!
So, make sure caulking and weather stripping is properly installed, including sealing door and window frames, around outlet covers, and beneath egresses to the attic, basement, and garage.
8. Invest in heat-blocking blinds or curtains
A quick and effective way to cool down your home in the summer and save money on AC costs is to invest in sun and heat-blocking blinds or curtains. In southern and western-facing rooms, the sun’s direct heat really cooks in the summer, trapping heat indoors. You can probably turn the AC up 1-2 degrees just by adding heavy shades or blinds to hotter rooms.
9. Don’t cook in the oven
A conventional oven emits a whole lot of heat, which may be welcomed in the winter (along with the smell of your cooking!) but taxes your AC and adds unwanted heat in the summer. Instead, turn on the barbecue outside, use the microwave when possible, and start cooking in an air fryer.
10. Turn down the water heater
Aside from air conditioning, heating water for showers and clothes washing is the second biggest drain on your energy bills. In fact, water heating accounts for up to 25% of the average family’s energy bills.
So, wash your clothes in cold water in the summer (and hang them on the line to dry in the sun), take cold showers at times, and turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees for energy efficiency and savings.
As the days get longer and the mercury rises, it’s time to make sure your home is energy efficient for summer savings.
And if you’re ready for real significant relief from your energy bill, adding value to your home, and helping the planet at the same time, consider going solar!
Feel free to contact me for more information or advice, and have a great summer.