Three wise ways to manage energy bills
From spring into summer – plus alternative tips.
As warmer temperatures move in, there are wise things folks can do to improve energy efficiency within the home to save money and maintain or enhance comfort. Here are three worthwhile ideas – plus alternative tips to consider.
- THINK AIR CONDITIONING: Spring into summer is the time of year when people stop using heat and start using air conditioning. Before summer is in full swing, it’s a smart idea to clean or replace old air filters to maximize your cooling system’s energy consumption. Spring is also the optimal time to call in professionals to test systems, to clean and check equipment, and to repair or replace inefficient parts or units. Filters, coils, and fins are examples of parts which typically require maintenance for air conditioning units to function properly. Neglecting such can lead to a decline in performance or failure of the system. To keep things in top running form, give your air conditioner a little tender love and care. Alternative tips: Rather than use a/c throughout the entire home, allow one window unit to cool a small closed-off room. When hot, avoid using your oven or other appliances that can heat up a home. At night, consider sleeping on the lowest basement level of your home if you find it’s cooler there. Or stay with a friend or relative during periods of extreme heat.
- USE CEILING FANS: Ceiling fans come in many styles, shapes, finishes, and designs. Many have light features and remote controls for easy operation. Today’s ceiling fans are more than just attractive features. They are desirable because they circulate air in a room and the use of these overhead fans can translate into money saved. Per Energy.gov, ceiling fans allow homeowners to raise the thermostat four degrees on average without sacrificing comfort. However, to maximize efficiency, lights that throw heat should be kept off. Additionally, the fan blades play a major role in cooling a room. For the summer, they should be set to spin in a counterclockwise direction to push air down to create a cool breeze. Alternative tips: No ceiling fan? Consider using box fans to blow out hot air and replace it with cooler air indoors. Be sure to take advantage of cross ventilation. Consider switching to energy efficient LED bulbs that generate lower temperatures than incandescent lights, or, when possible, avoid turning on lights that throw heat.
- INSTALL A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT: A thermostat is a regulating device that maintains temperature at a desired setpoint. A programmable thermostat can store and repeat multiple daily settings that one may manually override when desired. Energy.gov explains that the smaller the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. However, it’s important to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature when the weather is hot outside. To save money in the summertime, keep your house warmer than normal while you’re away. Then, while you are home, set your thermostat to a reasonable comfortable setting. Use of a programmable thermostat allows the transition from warmer to cooler temperature to take place before people arrive home. Per Green Mountain Energy, ENERGY STAR estimates that homeowners using programmable thermostats can save about $180 a year, so it’s a win-win. Alternative tips: Consider using blackout curtains in sun-filled rooms to reduce temperature increases indoors during the daytime. It may be dark, but it will at least keep the sun from beating down into a room. Do note that folks living in low-income households or undergoing a hardship, you may qualify for support in paying utility bills. If this is the case, do reach out to your utility company to see if you are eligible for any assistance programs designed to help those in need.
These are some great ways to improve energy efficiency within the home to stay cool as we transition from cooler to warmer weather seasonally. Be sure to visit www.energy.gov for more great ways to keep your cool and save on energy moving from spring into summer.