When most people think of summertime they think of flip flops, swimming pools and beach vacations. But when July rolls around and you get your first electricity bill of the summer, you may have other things on your mind. Here are five surefire ways to lower your electricity bill this summer so you can focus on the important stuff!
Install LED lights
If all or most of the lights in your house aren’t LED lights, you are throwing away a lot of money every month. The cost of LED lights have come down significantly over the past 5 years, and it now makes sense to pull the trigger on the upgrade. The average LED light bulb uses about 1/6th the energy of a standard incandescent bulb, so the payback is quick. When we moved into our new house last year (2016), we spent about $200 for all new LED lights. At $0.12 Kw/hr for electricity, this upgrade will save us about $270 per year. The payback was about 9 months, if you’re keeping score at home, and now we save about $20-25 each month on the electricity bill.
Another benefit of LED lights is they put off a lot less heat than other less efficient bulbs. You can actually grab an LED bulb with your bare hand and they hardly feel warm. Less heat being generated in your house means less work for your A/C. Double bonus!
And the best benefit of LED lights might just be that they last about 10x longer than your standard light bulbs, so no more changing bulbs every couple of weeks!
Raise the temperature on your thermostat
I know exactly what you’re thinking, but raising the temperature on your thermostat can save you about 5% per degree on your monthly A/C bill. The science behind this is pretty simple. Heat transfer into your house is a function of the temperature difference between the inside of your home and the outside air (heat transfer = area x temperature difference x U factor). So for every degree that you raise your space temperature, you will reduce how fast heat transfers into your house. Try to raise the temperature one degree and see if you even notice a difference. If it feels too warm, turn on a fan!
(in case you’re wondering, U factor is the inverse of ‘R-Value’, which is essentially how effective your wall or ceiling insulation is).
Make sure your filter is clean
When your furnace or air handler filter is dirty, it takes more energy to get that precious cool air to all the rooms in your house. A dirty filter can also reduce the capacity of your air conditioner (less airflow = less capacity), so the A/C will have to run longer to maintain your desired house temperature. Set a reminder every month to check and replace your filter as needed!
Set the temperature back when you leave your house
Is your thermostat set to an indefinite hold 24/7? This is a giant waste of money and energy, unless of course you are agoraphobic. But if you’re like most people, there are long stretches of time when no one is at home; maybe during your working hours, or on the weekend while running errands or at the pool all day.
I know this sounds like a lot of work, but chances are the thermostat at your house is programmable. Take 5 minutes to program your thermostat to set back the temperature for when you will be away from your house. And do 4 hour overrides when you are spontaneously out of the house for part of the day. Better yet, invest in a WI-FI thermostat so you can set back the A/C at your convenience, from anywhere in the world!
Install an HVAC Zoning system
I will never willingly live in a house without a zoning system ever again. Zoning systems have an upfront cost associated with them, but they are enormously beneficial for a couple of reasons.
- Zoning systems save you a ton of money on your energy bill. Dampers in the ductwork direct the air from your furnace or air handler to the exact parts of your home that need heating or cooling. So in the summer time, for example, your air conditioning system only sends cold air to rooms you are hanging out in, and therefore will not have to run as long to meet the cooling demand. Less run time = less energy usage = less money. We call that a win-win-win.
- Zoning systems reduce, or in a lot of cases completely remove hot and cold spots in your home. If you’ve ever lived in a two-story house, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you want it comfortable upstairs in the summertime, you have to freeze out the first floor. And vice versa in the wintertime. With a zoning system, though, you can completely shut off an entire floor of your home to avoid this. So while everyone is sleeping, for example, you can heat and cool only the bedrooms, and shut off the rest of the house. Pretty cool huh!
What are your favorite ways to save energy?
Think you have an energy efficient home? Leave your KW/hr usage per square feet in the comments and see how you compare with others.
If you want more information on any of these topics please get in touch with us!
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