Do you dread opening your summer electric bills? If you’re like many U.S. residents and rely on air conditioning to stay cool over the summer, the corresponding increase in your utility bills can be frightening. But keeping cool in the summer doesn’t have to break the bank. There are lots of little things we can do to promote home energy efficiency and summer comfort.
Look at the Big Picture
Let’s start by exploring how energy is used in the average home. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), heating and cooling the home accounts for the greatest percentage of energy consumption in the residential sector. Some of the other major home energy uses are broken down in the EIA’s chart below.
What do you know about energy use in your home? Some utilities have programs that show real-time home energy use. Gaining an understanding of how your home uses energy is really helpful in boosting efficiency. The New York Times provides a handy guide to how each state generates its electricity. Check it to see whether your local utilities are burning coal, a source of CO2 emissions, or relies on renewable resources like wind or hydropower. It will help you understand how your changes to electric usage can improve the environment.
Shade Out the Summer Sun
Having window treatments that block out the summer sun can save energy. Notice which windows get direct sun in the summer and use window treatments to help keep your home cooler. This is especially helpful in east, west, and south-facing windows (in the Northern Hemisphere).
Use a Fan, Keep the AC Down
Whenever possible, keep the air conditioner turned on low or off. If nighttime temperatures dip in your area, turn off the air conditioner at night when possible. If fans will do the trick, save energy by turning off your cooling system. Because fans help circulate the air, they make it feel cooler in the home. Be sure to turn them off when you aren’t in the room unless you are using them to draw in cooler outside air.
Line Dry Clothes
Not only does air drying clothes help you reduce your summer energy bills, it also extends the life of the clothes. Air drying is gentler on clothes and doesn’t cause stains to set in as much.
Use a Power Strip for Electronics
Your home office equipment and entertainment center may draw a trickle of electricity when these gadgets are in standby mode, even if they are not in use. Put these items on a power strip and turn off the strip when not in use.
Install Water-Saving Plumbing Fixtures & Appliances
Many times, water conservation and water heating go hand in hand. If you can reduce the amount of water flowing out of your shower, it will also save energy from heating less water. By installing a water-saving showerhead, you can use just 1.5 gallons per minute of water while showering. Putting an aerator on your sink can restrict water flow to just 0.5 gallons of water per minute. These changes result in big energy and water savings.
Swap Out Inefficient Light Bulbs
If you have any incandescent or halogen light bulbs, replace them with LED bulbs. Inefficient light bulbs produce both heat and light, wasting energy. This is especially wasteful in the summer when you want to keep your home cool.
Do you have tips for cutting your summer energy bills? Share your ideas with the community in the Earthling Forum.