As summer approaches, home electricity use can skyrocket, as air conditioners are cranked up to keep our homes cool. Follow these five simple energy efficiency strategies to keep your electric bill low and your home comfortable.

Keep the sun out

Although window treatments are often installed for aesthetic or privacy reasons, they can be very effective in reducing unwanted heat from direct sunlight into your home. Draperies can reduce heat gain from windows by up to 33%, and closing blinds during hot summer days can lower your cooling bill by 10 to 15%.

Image courtesy of seier+seier.

Keep warm air out

Even though windows can help create a breeze on hot summer days, it is more efficient to close windows when the outdoor temperature is greater than the indoor temperature. If it cools off at night, open windows to bring cooler air into the home.

Avoid generating heat inside

By examining activities that generate heat, you can either avoid them or do them when outdoor temperatures are cooler and you can naturally ventilate your home.

  • When cooking, try to avoid using the stove, or use it minimally.
  • Run the oven as infrequently as possible, and try to load it up when you do run it.
  • Wash clothes in cold water and air dry them whenever possible, instead of running the dryer.
  • Consider lowering the temperature setting of your hot water heater during the summer, especially if the tank is located in your living space.
  • Shower at night if possible or else run the exhaust fan, because showering causes the bathroom to fill with warm, humid air.
  • Avoid using incandescent light bulbs because they generate more waste heat than energy-efficient bulbs.
  • Run the dishwasher when it is full, ideally in the middle of the night.

Use a fan while in the room

Ceiling fans use less electricity than air conditioners, make the room feel cool more quickly, and can make the room feel up to 7 degrees cooler. On summer days that aren’t super hot, or perhaps during cooler parts of the day, run a ceiling fan instead of the air conditioning. You can even save money by running a ceiling fan along with the air conditioner, because it enables you to use a higher temperature setting for the air conditioning, saving energy. Ceiling fans merely distribute air and make it feel cooler, so turn off fans when nobody is in the room to save energy.

Use air conditioning wisely

Keep the air conditioning settings as high as possible to maintain comfort. The larger the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the greater the energy use. If you are leaving your home for long periods of time, turn the air conditioner ideally off or otherwise down to save energy.

Feature image courtesy of Jeremy Levine

By Sarah Lozanova

Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.