Right now is the best time to make immediate changes to help save on utilities this summer.
For a lot of people, summer means fun in the sun and relaxation time. But it also means cranking up the air conditioners and lots of lawn watering, which makes those utility bills go up.
Instead of forking over a larger chunk of change on your utility bills this summer, try using these tips to reduce the costs instead. There are a lot of small changes you can make that can add up, as well as some larger, long-term investments if you have the extra cash for them now.
How to Save on Utilities This Summer – Indoors and Outdoors
Most of the tips for saving on utility costs are done inside your home, but we’ve also got some tips to help outside too.
- Set your AC to the highest comfortable temperature and dress to accommodate it (don’t wear a sweater and then set your AC to 65).
- Turn your AC off at night and open the windows instead. If you’re still too hot, then keep the AC on, but raise the temperature before bed and lower it in the morning when it starts getting warmer outside. Smart thermostats can do the work for you.
- When you’re away, turn the AC up a few degrees so that it runs less often (as long as you don’t have pets at home).
- Use a fan to help keep you cool. Make sure you switch your ceiling fans to turn counterclockwise in the summer.
- Get your AC inspected each year, preferably before the start of the season, but late is better than never. A properly maintained unit will be more efficient.
- Change your AC filter regularly, either every month or every three months.
- Keep air and intake vents clean and don’t block them.
- If you have a very old and inefficient unit, think about replacing it when you can afford it with an energy efficient unit. This can dramatically save on energy costs and might also be rewarded with a credit from your electric company.
- Replace your lightbulbs around the house with energy-efficient bulbs like LEDs (light emitting diodes) or CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs. LEDs use 20-25% of the energy that a regular incandescent bulb uses, and they usually last up to 25 times longer and use very little heat!
- If you’re not using a light, turn it off! Kids especially are notorious for leaving lights on all over the house whether they’re in the room or not.
- Consider using timers to turn your lights on at set times when you are away instead of leaving them on all day.
- Don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth.
- Fill up the sink with a few inches of water to wash dishes, instead of running the water constantly to do them.
- Install efficient shower heads, faucets, and toilets that use less water.
- Use cold water for laundry instead of warm or hot water.
- Address any leaky pipes, toilets, or faucets. These can really add up on your water bill.
- Don’t overuse your sprinklers or hose to water your lawn. If it’s been raining a lot lately, turn them off and let nature handle the task. When you do water it, do it during the coolest part of the day so that the water is absorbed instead of evaporated.
- Consider purchasing a water catching system to collect rainwater that can then be used to water other parts of your yard (or even in your house if you have the money for a bigger investment). But beware, some states have restrictions on this, so check with yours to see what’s allowed.
- The more insulation in your home, the better. Your attic, exterior walls, floors, basements, and crawl spaces should all be insulated.
- Replace or add to old, ineffective insulation. Insulation actually has a rating and every region has a rating recommendation. Make sure your insulation is rated for your region or it won’t be very helpful.
- Check around windows and doors for small cracks or holes in the stripping, caulking, and seals. Repair any issues to prevent air loss.
- If you’re using a window air conditioner, use foam insulation or weather stripping between the unit and the window to prevent air leaks.
- If your windows still let out a lot of cold and in a lot of heat, get some inexpensive plastic sheeting to cover them with.
- Plants trees and shrubbery to add additional shade. This will help protect your lawn and keep the need for watering lower. It’s also good to shade your air conditioner unit to keep it working at top efficiency. Just don’t block the airflow.
- Use plants that don’t need a lot of watering.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed when the sun is directly on them. This reduces the amount of heat that enters your home. Darker shades and curtains will absorb the heat while white or lighter ones will reflect it.
- When you can help it, don’t use your oven during the day or when it’s very hot. If you do, this will put out more heat into your home (especially if you have a smaller home), which will likely make the AC run more often to cool it down.
- Buy energy efficient appliances when replacing old ones.
- Wait until you have full loads of laundry to wash them. Washing small loads more often wastes a lot of water and energy.
- If you have a fridge or freezer in the garage or on the porch, consider moving it into the house. Inefficient appliances have to work really hard to keep cool on hot days.
Check Your Local Companies to Help Save on Utilities
Your local electric company may offer a home energy analysis or assessment or efficiency kits, sometimes for free. Call them to see how they can help you reduce costs in and around your home. If they offer a free analysis, definitely take up the offer. This can show you exactly where your energy use is being wasted so you can directly target those problems.
As you can see, you can get started on a lot of these tips right now! The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see savings, or at the very least, a smaller increase in costs.