Don’t Lose Your Cool with these Summer Energy Saving Tips
Whew! In the past few years, the country has gone through some of the hottest summers on record. The summer of 2021 already seems to be on its way to continuing this trend.
Aside from being an environmental disaster, these hot summer days can be a disaster for your wallet. By far, the largest part of your energy bill comes from your home’s heating and cooling system. With your A/C running all summer long, you can expect some of your highest electric bills of the year to come between June and September.
Fortunately, you don’t have to stew in the summer heat to save a few bucks. By following these few energy-saving tips, you can keep the temperature, and your budget, well within your comfort zone.
Some of the tips are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to keep energy affordable through the summer.
Summer energy-savings tips for your kitchen
Your kitchen is, understandably, one of the biggest heat producers in your home. You can’t use your oven or dishwasher without transforming heat into energy. The following energy-saving tips for kitchens will help keep your home cooler and more comfortable in summer by reducing energy when cooking and washing.
DON’T KEEP THE OVEN ON TOO LONG
Using your oven can quickly increase the temperature in your kitchen, especially if whatever you’re cooking means you have to open the oven door repeatedly.
To reduce kitchen heat, consider eating meals that can be prepared without the oven. For example, slow cookers use a fraction of the electricity, and they produce less heat.
YOU NEED TO LOVE YOUR MICROWAVE AND GRILL
Outside grilling and microwave cooking are two other ways to prepare food without generating extra heat. However, when only baking will do, consider making smaller portions you can pop into a toaster oven.
KEEP YOUR FRIDGE COOL
Your refrigerator and freezer are essential to keeping your lemonade and popsicles cold all summer long. So, it would be best if you were careful to maintain your refrigerator properly. Set the thermostat between 35 and 38 degrees for the fridge and between 0 and 5 degrees for the freezer.
Check the door seal and vacuum the coils. Make sure your fridge is always full of food (even just jugs of water), so there’s less air space for it to have to cool.
STOP HAND-WASHING YOUR DISHES
Did you know that your dishwasher uses less water than washing your dishes by hand? You can use nearly 5,000 more gallons of water a year if you hand wash your dishes instead of using an Energy Star®, qualified dishwasher.
AIR-DRY YOUR DISHES IN THE DISHWASHER
Dishwashers generate substantial amounts of heat during their drying cycles and humidity in the form of steam. During the summer, turn off your dishwasher’s drying feature and let the dishes air dry. You’ll reduce dishwasher energy use and keep your kitchen cooler on hot days.
Summer energy savings tips for your bathroom
Your bathroom is another source of heat and humidity, especially if you or a family member are devotees of long, hot showers.
TAKE COOL SHOWERS
Hot showers aren’t always your best choice during the summer, especially if you want to cool down. Instead, switch to cool showers. You will feel cooler after showering and save on the energy needed to heat the water. Cooler showers also produce less steam, which means less humidity.
AVOID USING HOT AIR WHEN DRYING YOUR HAIR
Despite their small size, blow dryers create plenty of heat. Letting your hair air-dry in the summer sidesteps blow-dryer heat and leaves your scalp feeling cooler as water evaporates. If using your blow-dryer is unavoidable, use the cool-air setting.
Summer energy savings tips for your laundry room
WASH WITH COLD OR WARM WATER
Avoid using hot water whenever possible. Because 90 percent of the energy used by your washing machine goes toward heating the water, doing your laundry on either the cold or the warm cycle will save you a huge amount of electricity.
DITCH THE DRYER AND USE A CLOTHESLINE
When you’re done, if possible, take advantage of the warm weather and dry your clothes outside instead of putting them through the dryer. You’ll both save energy and avoid raising the temperature of your home with heat-generating appliances. If not doable, clothing racks are an inexpensive alternative.
USE ENERGY-EFFICIENT APPLIANCES AS REPLACEMENTS
Energy Star appliances meet energy-efficient guidelines set by the EPA. A wide range of appliances are Energy Star certified, and they include refrigerators, televisions, stoves, air conditioners, and washers and dryers.
Energy Star appliances use far less energy than standard appliances and save you up to 30 percent on your electricity bills.
We’re certainly not advocating that you replace your current appliances if they are working properly. But the most workable way to switch to Energy Star appliances is to replace your current ones as they break and need to be exchanged.
Summer energy savings tips using your thermostat
DON’T TURN OFF YOUR THERMOSTAT (YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT)
Turning off the thermostat might seem like a good idea when you are attempting to save on costs, but while your air conditioner is off, it lets humidity build-up in your house. When you get back home, your system will have to work extra hard to get that humidity out of the air.
If you turn off your thermostat, you’ll feel uncomfortable and sticky. In some cases, excess humidity and heat can lead to mold growth. Keep your thermostat on and choose a cool, comfortable environment when you arrive home.
USE A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
Everyone is a fan of easy. You can easily control the temperature in your home using a programmable thermostat. The best part? You can set it for whatever temperature you’d like and keep it there while you’re gone.
An added advantage is that you can program it to lower the temperature a few hours before you return, so your home is cool and comfy when you get back from your extended break.
DON’T PLACE APPLIANCES NEXT TO THE THERMOSTAT
Your thermostat is sensitive to heat. If it senses that the temperature around it remains higher than expected, it will keep the A/C running until the entire area is cool enough. So, it makes sense to keep electronics and appliances that generate heat, like televisions, computers, and lamps away from the thermostat.
Summer energy savings tips for your A/C system
CLEAN YOUR AIR CONDITIONING VENTS AND UNITS
In order for your air conditioning unit to function efficiently, its filters, coils, and fins must be maintained regularly. Simply put, a clean air conditioner is an effective air conditioner.
You also need to keep your vents clear. Your air conditioner can’t work effectively if the vents are blocked by rugs or furniture. Also, check all of your vents to make sure they’re open, free of dust, and directing air toward the center of the room.
REPLACE YOUR AIR FILTER
Replacing the air filter is one of the easiest and effective things you can do to make sure your A/C runs smoothly and efficiently. Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce your air conditioner’s ability to absorb heat. Replacing a dirty filter with a clean one can lower your A/C’s energy usage by up to 15 percent.
We suggest that you change your air filter every 30 days, even though every two to three months is technically okay. We also recommend purchasing your filters in bulk, so you always have some around when you need a new one. Your utility bill and A/C unit will thank you!
GET AN AIR CONDITIONER TUNE-UP
You should schedule this maintenance once a year. During a tune-up, your HVAC technician will clean the system, perform preventative maintenance, ensure proper fluid levels and take other steps to optimize energy efficiency and prevent sudden breakdowns.
Simply contact the service department and J&A South Park to schedule your annual maintenance tune-up.
How to save with energy-efficient window treatments
INSTALL WHITE WINDOW SHADES
According to Energy.gov, approximately 75 percent of the sunlight that reaches double-pane windows enters the home as heat.
White window shades, drapes, and blinds reflect sunlight back outside, keeping the house cool. Energy.gov estimates a medium-colored drape with a white plastic backing can reduce a room’s heat gains by one-third.
Of course, drapes and other window treatments only reduce heat gain if they’re used, and 75 percent of households don’t adjust window treatment positions during the day.
Set yourself a couple of reminders and close the drapes against the heat of the day.
To offer the best protection against heat gain, window treatments should be installed as close to the glass as possible. In addition, choose shades that are white on the outside with darker, heat-absorbing colors on the inside for the most heat protection.
Summer energy savings tips for around your entire home
In addition to the tips above, there are ways to save energy and control heat throughout the entire house. Try these summer tips and see whether or not your home is cooler.
INSTALL ENERGY-EFFICIENT LIGHTING
Are you still using incandescent lights? If so, you might want to consider switching to LEDs. Incandescent light bulbs only convert 10 to 15 percent of the electricity to energy-efficient lighting – the rest is emitted as heat.
Switching to energy-efficient lighting will have an immediate effect on your home’s energy consumption and will keep it cooler in the summer.
WEATHERIZE YOUR HOME
You can weatherize your home by sealing your doors and windows to keep the heat in your house during the winter and the cool air in during the summer. You can also weatherize it by sealing your windows, cleaning and checking your air ducts for leaks, and installing tank wrap on your water heater. Another way that is costly upfront but beneficial in the long run is to add proper insulation to your entire house, including your basement and attic.
USE CEILING FANS FOR ADDED COOLING
Ceiling fans help circulate cool air throughout the house, and that means your A/C doesn’t have to work as hard to pump cool air into the room. The improved air circulation should also allow you to set your thermostat four degrees higher without reducing the comfort level.
PLANT SOME SHADE TREES NEAR YOUR WINDOWS
Be good to the environment and your thermostat by planting trees. Planting shade trees is another way to keep sun rays from entering your home.
Most professionals will recommend planting shade trees with mature branches with large leaves next to windows that take direct sunlight during the day. Not only will these trees shade your windows from the sin, but they will also help absorb some of the heat. Your air conditioning unit can also benefit from proper shading but keep debris away from the unit.
Perform an energy audit
An energy audit involves hiring a professional to come into your home and evaluate where energy is being wasted or used inefficiently. Public utility companies, energy service companies, or the state energy office can perform audits.
You can also perform an energy audit yourself. The U.S. Department of Energy has a helpful guide to do it yourself.