For East Coasters (including New Yorkers), the upcoming summer couldn't be any closer, as those affected by the barrage of storms and sleet this past winter eagerly await the warmer weather with open arms. However, with hot sun constantly beating down on us, many of us will undoubtedly come home and crank up the air conditioner without a second thought.
Your energy bills can quickly add up. Here are seasonal and non-seasonal ways to lower your energy bills:
1. Install a programmable thermostat
If you don't have a programmable thermostat, installing one can help you lower your utility bills and manage both your cooling and heating systems efficiently. According to clean energy consultant Michael Nardi, "A programmable thermostat will both conserve energy and save lots of money in the winter and summer. A learning thermostat, such as a Nest, will learn your household's daily habits and save much more than the cost of the thermostat."
2. Unplug your appliances
We roll our eyes at the people who unplug their clocks, TVs, and lamps when they leave the house, but keeping those items plugged in, drains your outlets of vampire power. Be sensible and consider investing in a power strip, which you can switch on and off, thus cutting power when appliances aren't in use.
3. Screens can ward off the hot sun
Solar screens stop up to 70 percent of the sun's beams from getting into your house. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for windows that face east and west, these screens work like a charm.
4. Use fans strategically
Since your goal is to let air circulate throughout your home, locate fans along the upper level of your house and have windows open on the bottom. EnergyTrust.org recommends: "When it’s cooler outside, use fans in windows to pull cool air in and draw warm air out. A box fan or window-mounted fan on the north side or shady side of your house can draw in cool air. A second fan on the opposite side of the house can blow hot air out." 5. Be sensible
It's the little things that can add up to a lot of savings. For instance, consider air drying your dishes instead of using the drying cycle on your dishwasher. Also turn appliances off in rooms you aren't using, such as lights, computer and monitor, TVs, etc. Take shorter showers and use low-flow shower heads to minimize the amount of water used.
Consider air drying your laundry.
6. Buy Energy Star
Look out for the Energy Star label on appliances, electronics, and light bulbs. These product meet the strict efficiency guidelines of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
7. Green your home strategically
Think about the rainforest and how its jungle canopy shades wildlife. You can basically set up a similar mechanism around your house.
If your house is anything like the average home, sun will be shining on your roof or through the windows. So it makes sense that planting leafy trees around the exterior of your home would shade your home from the heat of the sun. However, planting that tree will obviously be a time-consuming and expensive project.
However, it may be worth the cost, time, and effort, because according to the U.S. Department of Energy, doing so can make your AC up to 10 percent more effective, which means getting a lower AC bill. Make a visit to a tree nursery and buy a 2- to 15-foot tree.
8. Spring for a new AC
According to the Department of Energy, replacing an older air conditioning unit with a new one, you may just cut your energy costs 50 percent. Be on the lookout for an Energy Star unit, or a high EER (energy efficient ratio). The higher the EER rating, the more efficient the unit is.
9. Identify sources of air leaks
Caulking, sealing, and weather stripping all the seams, cracks, and openings to the outside is one of the quickest and most cost-effective measures you can take to lower your energy bills and your energy output. However, testing your home for air tightness does take a good afternoon's worth of work. On a windy day, hold an incense stick or a smoke pen next to:
- Electrical boxes
- Plumbing fixtures
- Electrical outlets
- Ceiling fixtures
- Attic hatches
Any place the smoke stream travels horizontally, there is an air leak that will need caulking and sealing. Plug leaky doors, windows, and especially areas in which plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring is installed.
10. Consistent upkeep
Cleaning or replacing filters on your furnaces, as well as air conditioners monthly, or as recommended can keep your heating and cooling appliances running efficiently.
How do you plan on saving on your energy bill this summer?