6 Steps to Cut Down on Energy This Summer

Summertime is just around the corner now, and while you may be looking forward to sitting by the pool, grilling out with friends or going on a beach vacation, the hot weather can also lead to some of your highest energy bills of the year. But the good news is that there are steps you can take to lessen the impact of regularly running your A/C to stay cool.

In this month’s blog, we look at six ways you can cut down on your energy usage this summer without breaking the bank:

1. Wash your clothes with cold water and optimize drying.

Washing and drying clothes often accounts for a large amount of home energy usage, but, fortunately, small actions can make a big difference. Since heating the water accounts for about 90 percent of the energy your washer uses, opt for cold water instead. Most studies recommend using cold water because it cleans just as well as hot water and is easier on your clothes. To optimize drying, make sure you clean the dryer’s lint trap after each use, and if possible, consider air-drying your clothes outside as well. These actions will reduce the amount of energy your laundry cycle uses and can lower your energy bill.

2. Turn off your lights and unplug unused appliances.

The old adage “Turn off the lights when you leave a room” is great advice for saving energy at home, but did you know that appliances actually still draw some power while turned off or in standby mode? According to some sources, these “energy vampires”, which can include TVs, coffeemakers, gaming systems and more, account for 10-20 percent of a home’s total energy use. Consider adding appliances and devices to a power strip to conveniently turn them on and off, and you should start seeing a decrease in your usage. You can also purchase smart outlets, plugs or power strips, which can track energy usage and shut off devices remotely.

3. Give your oven a break and choose more efficient appliances.

When it’s hot outside, it can also be a smart idea to limit the heat generated in your kitchen as much as you can, specifically by limiting the use of your oven. According to Good Housekeeping, leaving your oven off can help in two ways: “saving the energy it takes to run it and preventing it from heating up your kitchen and making your air conditioning have to work harder”. When possible, use your stovetop (particularly if you have induction), microwave or air fryer, which run on less energy than an oven and generate less ambient heat. You can also take advantage of the warm weather by cooking dinner on the grill outside. These simple tips can help your kitchen stay cooler and reduce the strain on your A/C.

4. Take advantage of air circulation from ceiling fans.

Cranking your A/C doesn’t have to be the only way to keep cool this summer – circulating the air in a room can make a major difference in making you comfortable while keeping your energy usage low. In the summertime, use the switch on the base of your fan to make sure that the blades are rotating counterclockwise. This will push cool air down and keep you cool. Also, don’t forget to turn the ceiling fan off when you leave a room to save energy! Ceiling fans cool people and not rooms – leaving them on will only waste electricity.

5. Swap your old lightbulbs for energy-saving LEDs.

The standard lightbulb has come a long way over the past decade. Once a major source of energy use, lighting is now a fraction of total household electricity due to the growth of LEDs, which use 80-90 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. If your home still has old, inefficient bulbs, upgrading to LEDs is one of the best energy-efficient actions you can take. These bulbs are relatively inexpensive today at around $10-12 for a four-pack at big box retailers or home improvement stores. With just one pack, you can make a noticeable dent in your overall energy usage. If you’re not keen on spending the money to switch, many power companies have free energy efficiency kits that include LED bulbs or offer rebates to help with the upgrade.

6. Purchase a smart thermostat at a discounted price.

Another great option for lowering your home’s electricity usage during the summer is a smart thermostat. And fortunately, many power companies today provide rebates on a full range of smart thermostats, including options from ecobee, Google Nest, Honeywell and more. Smart thermostats offer many benefits, including learning the temperatures that you prefer and developing a schedule that automatically adjusts to optimal, energy-saving temperatures whether you are asleep, away or at home. On average, this automation can help save you between 10 to 15 percent on heating and cooling (depending on the size of your home, your habits and other factors).

With about a month to go until the official start of summer, now is a great time to take on some projects to improve your home’s energy efficiency. You can start lowering your energy bills with immediate effect and, in many cases, improve the comfort of your home during the summertime heat.

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