The summer heat brings unwelcome news for many families: higher summer electric bills. Air conditioning is one of our greatest modern conveniences, but often comes with higher utility bills for power. The good news is there’s easy ways your family can save money on electric bills. Keep reading for 10 easy ways for how to save on your family’s electricity bill in summer.
How Much Money Does a Family Spend on Electricity?
Do electric bills go up in the summer? Absolutely. Summer months are the biggest electricity usage months for the vast majority of American families. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found the average American family with at least one child spends $1,847 a year on electricity. If you want to help curb that expense, summer and air conditioning is one of the best places to start. With utility rates rising, the price your family pays to cool your home this summer is a good place to trim some costs with a few easy steps.
How to Save on Summer Air Conditioning and Electric Bills
There's big (and expensive) projects your family can do that will mean big energy and air conditioning cost savings. That could include new insulation in the attic, replacing doors and windows, or other large scale projects. Those steps might have merit and pay off over time, but you can also take some inexpensive and easy steps right now to reduce summer energy bills. Here's 10 ideas to get your family started.
"Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling, but a foolish man devours it." Proverbs 21:20 ESV
1. Service and Clean Your Air Conditioner
A hugely overlooked part of home ownership is regular servicing of your home’s air conditioning system. Around 90% of homeowners wait until their air conditioning breaks before they investigate any maintenance. Dirty air conditioning units reduce the efficiency of your unit. In other words, dirt and other buildup makes your air conditioner use more energy for the same amount of cooling power compared to a clean unit.
Some units can be cleaned by you as a homeowner. Be sure to consult the manual for your specific brand and model to avoid any damage to the system. You can also get a cleaning from a professional. Even with the added cost of a visit, you’ll likely come out ahead with the energy savings. There’s also the bonus that clean units tend to last much longer than grubby air conditioners. Plan for a cleaning 1-2 times a year.
There may be another reason to have a professional perform a checkup. An air conditioning system can still cool while not living up to its full potential. Units can underperform for a variety of reasons such as improper installation or lack of preventative maintenance. These difficult-to-spot problems can all add up to larger electric bills during summer. Think about asking an air conditioning pro to come take a look and check for ways to make your unity more efficient and lengthen the life of your system.
2. Keep on Top of the Thermostat
The thermostat gives you control over the temperature and your power bill. This gizmo is a key part of how to lower your family’s summer electric bill. During summer, look for the maximum temperature you can maintain and still be comfortable. Even 1-2 degrees can make a difference for the average summer electric bill.
It’s also important not to spend money on cooling an empty house. If you plan to be gone for a few hours, bump the temperature up a few degrees. This is even more important if your family will be out of town. Altering the thermostat by just a few degrees can is an easy way to trim your electricity costs.
Don’t cool an empty house
Some families may opt for a programmable thermostat. These devices allow you to adjust the temperature remotely. Some will even help you track energy usage. If you choose to go down this path, be sure to carefully consider the specific device and how secure the manufacturer has made the system. Saving money on your electricity bill is important, but your family’s data is also important.
3. Ceiling Fans can Help
A ceiling fan can make a big difference in the temperature of a room during summer hear. A ceiling fan can make a room feel 4-5 degrees cooler than it otherwise would. You might be wondering why running another electricity user makes sense if our goal is to reduce summer energy bills. The cooling power of a fan takes about 1/10th of the energy required from your air conditioner to get the same effect. To get the most benefit from your ceiling fan in summer, make sure the blades are moving counterclockwise.
4. Practice Good Habits by Including Your Children
This is a tactic where child involvement is important. When you leave a door open longer than necessary, the air you’re paid to cool is lost. Teach your children the importance of keeping doors closed during summer. Once you cement good habits, the cool air will stay where you want it to be.
5. Eliminate Escape Routes for Cool Air
If you paid for food and one of your kids threw It in the trash, you would not be pleased. When you pay to cool air and the leaves the house, it’s the same things. Small gaps around doors and windows are a common culprit for this power bill enemy. You can very easily and inexpensively add weatherstripping to doors and windows to make a better seal. Keep in mind that antistripping does wear out over the years so just having it might not be sufficient. Attic access doors are another common spot for unwanted air flow. You can get easy to install insulation products made specifically for attic or pulldown doors to help keep cool air where you want it.
6. Blinds and Drapes
Window treatments are not just for decoration. Curtains, drapes, and blinds can help block the sun and help your summer electric bills. This is especially helpful in rooms that don’t require lots of light. You can get blackout curtains for the maximum effect, but inexpensive blinds will help plenty. When light is not need, close the blinds or curtains to help the summertime electric bill. If you plan to go on vacation close every blind and curtain before you leave.
7. Window Film
Windows let the summer sun to heat up your home. You can get an inexpensive film to go over the glass on the inside of your home to help reduce the warming effect of the sun. These films are inexpensive and easy to install in a few minutes. You can get a tint that will allow plenty of light in while blocking the harshest rays of the sun. Homeowners with older windows will get the most benefit from these products. If your windows have a feature called “Low-E” then your windows already block a large portion of UV rays that heat up your home. Check the model and manufacturer to see if you have this special coating, but you can always use window film if you don’t.
8. Don’t Heat up the House by Accident
What if you tried to pull a wagon with one of your children while the child was putting rocks in the wagon? Your job is being made more difficult for no reason. That’s what happens when you unnecessarily heat up your home while also running the air conditioning. When possible, avoid using appliances that produce lots of heat on the warmest days. In other words, try not to use the oven, stove, clothes dryer in the hottest part of summer days. Look for other heat producing gadgets in your home to cut on hot days. An easy one is any older light bulbs. Newer LED bulbs produce light without excess heat. About 90% of the energy used in the old style incandescent bulbs goes to heat instead of light production. If you haven’t made the switch, consider it to cut back on energy costs. Any other heat producing electronics that produce heat but aren’t being used are an easy target too.
9. Keep Clean Filters
Filters serve an important function in your home by trapping small particles in the air. Filters inevitably get dirty. Dirty and clogged filters mean your air conditioning must work harder to move air through your home. One of the easiest ways to save electricity in summer is by regularly changing your filters. According to the Department of Energy, clean filter can save between 5-15% on energy costs compared to a dirty filter.
10. Crack Windows at Night
If your climate allows, think about cracking a few windows at night. You might think a few hours of cooler natural air in lieu of air conditioning would not save that much on electricity expenses. Think about it like this: if you crack windows for 8 hours a night instead of air conditioning that’s 1/3 of the summer! Add this ritual to your nighttime routine and save money on electricity.
Bonus Tip: Do an Energy Audit
Many utility companies offer a free service that very few households take advantage of. Utilities that offer the service will send a technician to your home for an inspection and give you tips on how to make your home more energy efficient. If your local power company offers the option, give it a try and see what they recommend. You might be surprised by what the analysis points out and where your family can save money this summer.
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