It’s funny, but we tend to forget the impact of our day-to-day activities during summer. While we pay closer attention to our energy bills during the winter, there is just as much need for us to be mindful in the summer months. Here are a few solid ways to keep your hydro bills lower while staying cool and comfortable.
Yep, this is what first comes to mind when we think of what eats our energy up in the summer months. Don’t worry; we aren’t suggesting you ditch you’re a/c. In fact, with summer temperatures rising, air conditioning isn’t simply about comfort but also health. It’s vital that you have a cool place to turn to when the heat is unbearable high. Heatstroke, dehydration and other issues are no laughing matter. SO – you get to keep your beloved air conditioning, but you can use the following suggestions to maximize your cool while minimizing your hydro bill.
- Raise the temperature. No, that’s not a typo! Did you know that you can save 1% of your energy use for every degree raised? Now compare that to the 6-8% increase in your energy use for every degree lowered below 78° F (25° C)! To begin the healthy habit of keeping your air set a little higher than you would typically, aim for one degree higher than your comfort setting. Then use one or more of these tricks to cool your home even more for less.
- Use fans to compliment your air conditioning. See the next bullet point for more details.
- Close the vents and doors to rooms you aren’t using. This will send the bulk of the cooling into the main rooms.
- For the 8 hours that you are at work, raise your air conditioner by 5° for a 5-15% savings on energy consumption.
- Fans. Speaking of fans, it’s funny, but did you know that fans don’t actually cool the air? Rather they help remove the hot air from your body and help circulate the air in the house. Adding a few strategically placed fans, you can maximize the use of your a/c, driving the cool air to the rooms you are using. You can also install a few ceiling fans, especially in entryways or stairwells, to keep the air flowing evenly. The best part about using a fan is it uses way less energy and can keep you comfortable while allowing you to set your thermostat 4° higher than usual.
- A/C maintenance. “One of the most important factors in reducing energy costs and keeping cool is maximizing the efficiency of your cooling systems. Clearing a clogged A/C unit filter alone can save 5 to 15 percent in energy use.” – NEEP.org. You will also want to make sure your settings are where they should be. Sometimes at installation or when buying a new home, companies will set the temperature lower or higher than it actually reads. So, when you complain to your husband that it’s way too hot…your thermostat may actually be set higher than it reads.
- Doors and windows. Do the temperatures in your area drop significantly once the sun sets? Use this to your advantage by shutting off your air conditioner at night. Open the windows and let the fresh air cool your home. If you have screen doors, use them as well. Before the heat begins again for the day, close your windows and draw the shades to prevent heat from coming in as much as possible. If you want to enjoy a cross breeze on a windy day, lower the blinds ¾ of the way, leaving enough of an opening for the wind to blow in.
While the suggestion to go outdoors when it’s hot out may seem contradictory, there is actually sound reasoning behind that suggestion.
- Breeze. For one thing, when there is a gentle breeze, a summer day can feel magical. When you are inside, the air is trapped, and unless you are in front of your fan or vent, your comfort will be limited. So, when you feel too warm, don’t just lower the thermostat! Not to mention your body will feel refreshed when you enter your cool home.
- Shade. Have you considered your yard an extension of your living quarters? Set up a bistro table with an umbrella so that you can work from your yard while staying sheltered from the sun. Do you have a lovely large tree? Make a play area for the kids so they can take shelter from the hot sun. Hang a hammock and nap in the shade. Grab some plastic Adirondack chairs for easy-to-move seating, letting you sit and relax wherever the shade may be.
How amazing is it to be fortunate enough to have a pool when the summers are increasingly sunny and hot?!? Your pool can be a double-edged sword if you aren’t mindful.
- Heaters. Make sure you don’t overheat your pool. A heated pool is lovely, but it’s also a clutch. Once you heat your pool, it’s too easy to raise the temperature on a cloudy day. Try opting for a solar cover or solar pods to maintain the heat from the previous day. You can also try using a solar heater rather than an electric setup.
- Jump in. Feeling warm? Don’t raise the a/c. Rather get in touch with your younger self, be brave and jump in the pool! It may be a shock at first, but after a few minutes, you will feel refreshed and comfortable.
- Maintenance. Like anything electric, make sure that your pool’s maintenance is up to date. Ensure that your filters and pumps are working correctly without hemorrhaging energy. If it’s time for an upgrade, while it may cost a bit up-front, you will make up for it in energy saved. If you aren’t certain how to make do, consider a quick, online loan. You can get the money you need at no risk to your credit score, and you won’t need to put additional debt on your credit card.
There are a few additional ways you can cut back on energy consumption in the summer.
- Keep the lights off. “Every bulb has a watt rating printed on it. For example, if the rating is 40 watts, and the bulb is on for one hour, it will consume 0.04 kWh, or if it is off for one hour, you will be saving 0.04 kWh.” – Energy.gov. While modern LED bulbs are way more efficient than older models, the habit of switching off lights when they are not in use is still beneficial. The same can be said for computers, TVs, etc. While you might not save hundreds, little savings do add up, and most of all, you will be supporting a healthier planet.
- Cooking. Rather than use your oven on a hot day, raising the temperature of your main areas, opt for a BBQ or a healthy salad.
- Laundry. Wash your laundry on cold and hang them outside to dry. You will save energy and get addicted to that clean sundried scent.
Take it one step at a time, but be determined to make the changes you can to not only lower your hydro bill this summer but also work towards a greener lifestyle.
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