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I’m not sure what your weather has been like, but where I am, we’ve been hitting temperatures in the 90-100+ range. (It was 105 a few weeks ago, with the inside temperature already at 82 before 7am.) So obviously, one of the things I worry about is our energy/electric bill. I need to ensure it doesn’t get too warm in the house for my two kids and our dog, but I can’t afford to be wasting money either.
Now, I know basic steps to ensure I keep my energy costs down and I’m sure you do too. You could go out and invest in solar panels or a wind turbine…both good things to do…but let me start with some of the simpler steps each of us can take to cut down on our energy costs right away:
- If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, get one! I usually set ours to around 80-81 degrees, so the A/C won’t click on until then. This way I don’t have to constantly check the temperature in our house and I cut down electricity costs by not running the A/C all day. (Did you know that for every degree you raise your thermostat, it will save you about 3-4% on your energy bill?)
- If you have east/west facing windows, be sure to keep the blinds closed during the time of the day when the sun is shining directly in the windows. This will help keep the heat out. Why make your A/C work overtime when it doesn’t need to?
- Since north and south facing windows don’t usually get direct sunlight, opening the blinds will help let in some natural light. This will help brighten your house during the day and save costs on lighting. No need to have the lights on inside when you get some light from the beautiful outdoors.
- When you leave the house, to enjoy some time outside, ensure you turn off the A/C. Don’t keep it running when nobody is in the house. Believe it or not, the inside temperature won’t go up that much while you are gone.
- If you have ceiling fans, use them. They don’t cost very much to run. Besides if it is a nice day and you have a house that has a relatively open floor plan, you can always open your windows and let the cross-breezes flow through your house to help cool it down. This also usually brings in a fresh, clean smell.
- Make sure you replace or clean your air filter regularly. We do ours usually every 3 months or when we notice it is getting clogged up. Doing this helps ensure your A/C doesn’t have to work harder to deliver the same amount of cool air.
- If you have an older refrigerator, you may want to look at trading it in for a new one as it is probably using a lot of electricity. Many stores will take your old one (when you buy a new one) and recycle it. One area’s utility company even set up a “Cash for Clunkers” trade-in program for old refrigerators.
- Make sure the seals on your fridge/freezer are tight. We had a fridge that had a broken seal. It wouldn’t fully close and so whenever we came back into the kitchen, we would see the refrigerator light on. We solved it by putting a child lock on the refrigerator door (which we needed anyway for our toddler). This kept the door fully closed.
- Make sure you do only full loads in your dishwasher or washing machine. Don’t overstuff them, but make sure they are full – doing that will save energy. Plus washing dishes or clothes in the evening hours or early morning, when it is cooler, helps as well.
- Hang your clothes out to dry. It gets you time outside and will save on dryer costs. If you do use the dryer, make sure you clean the lint trap after every use, so it doesn’t work overtime.
- Did you know that electronic devices such as computers and stereos can sometimes account for up to 25% of a typical household’s electricity use? When you aren’t using them, turn them off and unplug them. Power strips work great for this as you can plug everything into the power strip then turn it off when not in use.
Anyway, by following these simple tips you are pretty much guaranteed to save on your energy bills. So before you start pulling your hair out or deciding that you have to leave your A/C off all day, try following these tips first. What steps do you take to lower your energy costs?