Lower Your Summer Energy Bills With These 10 Tips

Summer means a return to higher temperatures and, with it, a return to higher energy costs. Heating and air conditioning costs account for 48 percent of your yearly energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. If you hope to stay cool and comfortable this summer without going broke, take a look at these tips for cutting your summer cooling costs.

1. Install Window Films or Solar Mesh Screens

Solar mesh screens are window screens that are specially designed to block the sun’s energy. They can keep up to 70 percent of the sun’s heat out of your house, so your air conditioner doesn’t has to work as hard to keep your living space cool. They work just like regular window screens, keeping heat (and insects) out even when your windows are open.

Window films are see-through, reflective films that can be applied to glass to keep solar energy out. They only work while your windows are closed, however.

2. Plant More Shrubs and Trees Around Your Home

Most of the heat that enters your house in the summer comes directly from the sun itself. Planting trees and shrubs around your home puts your house in the shade, to keep the sun from beating down on the roof or shining through the windows. Leafy trees are the most cost-effective way to do this.

3. Run the Dishwasher and Dryer at Night

Your dishwasher and dryer emit a lot of heat as they operate, so run them at night to minimize their impact on your home’s indoor temperature. If you have the space and inclination, skip using your dryer altogether and line-dry your clothes in the summer for extra savings. Let dishes air dry or dry them by hand. If you must use these appliances during the day, try to do it before 2 p.m.

4. Set Your Thermostat Higher When You’re Out

You don’t need to keep your house cooled to 72 degrees while everyone is out at work or school all day. Use a digital, programmable thermostat to turn up the heat to 78 degrees or more while you’re away. Set it to start cooling again right before you get home, so your house is comfortable when you arrive. You can save 5 to 15 percent on energy costs, depending on how high you set your thermostat when you’re out or asleep.

5. Skip Using the Stove If You Can

You probably don’t need much convincing to skip slaving over a hot stove in the summer heat. Instead of turning on the stovetop or oven, keep your home cooler by using the microwave or grilling outside.

6. Keep Your AC Unit in Good Shape

Regular AC maintenance is one of the best ways to keep cooling costs down in the summer. Changing the filter and cleaning the unit regularly helps it function more efficiently, to keep costs down. Make an appointment for AC repair in Phoenix, or wherever you live, as early in the season as possible to beat the rush. Getting your AC unit looked at early on can prevent an uncomfortable midsummer breakdown. If your AC unit has seen better days, consider replacing it; you’ll save more money in the long run.

27. Unplug Appliances You’re Not Using

Did you know that appliances continue to draw a small amount of power from your outlets even when they’re not in use? Unplug appliances you’re not actually using to save on your electricity bill.

8. Minimize Your Use of Large Appliances

If you’re running multiple refrigerators or freezers, reconsider whether you really need them all, especially if some of them are very old. Older units don’t function as efficiently, and use more energy. If the unit is outside or in a garage during the summer, it’s working even harder to keep its contents cool because the air around it is so warm.

9. Run Ceiling Fans If You Have Them

If you have ceiling fans in your home, running them can enable you to turn the thermostat up, and save you money. That’s because a ceiling fan creates a small amount of wind chill, making you feel cooler than the actual temperature of the room. You may be able to turn your thermostat up by a full five degrees to lower your overall energy costs. If you don’t have a ceiling fan, a box or oscillating fan will do.

10. Leave All Vents and Registers Open

You may have heard that closing registers in rooms you’re not using saves you money, since your unit doesn’t have to cool that room. While that makes a certain amount of sense, it doesn’t work out that way in real life. Your unit needs to cool your entire house to work efficiently, and closing off the vents in one room can cause major problems with your unit or your ductwork.

If you’re not careful, summer cooling costs can easily get away from you. But you don’t have to choose between a comfortable home and a lower energy bill. With a little effort, you can have both.

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