Disclaimer: Some affiliate links to some useful stuff you should buy to keep your house energy efficient.
Keeping cool this summer without burning a hole in your pocket… #thestruggleisreal. Fortunately, there are a lot of really simple ways you can lower your utility bills this summer and they all involve using less energy. Good for you… good for the environment. Hooray! The best part is that some of the options are so easy that they involve no initial investment and you can do them today. Others may require a little work and some up front cash, but the end result is much more rewarding.
Be Mindful of How You Use Your Thermostat
Probably the most obvious ways to save on your energy bill during the hot, summer months is to use your thermostat wisely. It’s tempting to run that A/C at full blast to keep cool, but even leaving things just a few degrees warmer or closer to the outdoor temperature will reduce the amount of energy you use.
Programmable thermostats are also a fantastic way to save on energy costs. While buying such a system requires an investment on your part, you save a lot more money in the long run – easily paying for the system in just one season of use. I especially like easy to use and install thermostats like the Nest thermostat, which allow a quick “Away” feature for when you aren’t home and don’t need to keep your home at a consistent, cooler temperature. It will make sure your home doesn’t go above or below certain temperatures while you are gone, but otherwise allows your home to fluctuate between a high and low temperature setting of your choosing – rather than wasting energy to have the A/C kick on when no one is even there to enjoy it.
Regularly change out your air filters. I know, I know. It sounds like more money spent and it’s tedious, but when your A/C doesn’t have to work as hard, you use less energy and save money. Trust me… it adds up.
Direct your air flow away from rooms that need it less. If you aren’t using your craft room or a guest bedroom, considering shutting the vents or utilizing magnetic vent covers to direct the air flow to rooms that you’re regularly using. They will cool down faster and require less use of the A/C unit.
Replace Older Appliances
Let’s face it… your hand-me-down refrigerator probably saved you money when you were just starting out as an adult, but at this point it may very well be sucking massive amounts of energy. I like my white wine chilled as much as the next girl – but at what expense!? Replacing your non-energy efficient appliances is certainly an up front investment, but once again… easily paid for by how much less you’ll spend over the course of the hot, summer months on your electric bill.
Energy Star certified appliances are definitely the way to go. They use 10-15% less energy and water by comparison to your older, non-certified appliances. As a personal note, all of our new home’s appliances are Energy Star certified… and I am in total awe of how much energy we conserve compared to the much older appliances we had at the apartment.
But if you’re strapped for cash and you just cannot afford to replace all of your big appliances right now (I totally feel you on that) use your larger heat-generating appliances like your dishwasher, dryer, and stove at night when it’s cooler. Your energy bill will thank you (and then you can totally buy more white wine).
Switch to Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
This is one of those things that is so simple to do and everyone seems to know all about it, but few take advantage of. The simple act of replacing your bulbs with energy efficient bulbs can save you an average of $30 PER LIGHT BULB over the course of its life. Think about how many bulbs you have in your home. That’s a huge amount of savings for something so easily changed.
Of course, there’s so many light bulbs out there on the market and a lot of information. So long as you are using the correct type of bulb and utilizing one that is Energy Star certified, you almost can’t go wrong. My personal preference are LED bulbs as they outlast the traditional Compact Flourescent (or CFL). That said, they can be a pricey investment and the difference in longevity is marginal.
Instead, I love this 6-Pack of GE Energy Smart CFL light bulbs. Like all Energy Star certified bulbs, these are required to last a minimum of 2 years. If used correctly, you can easily get many more years out of them. These particular bulbs are a cooler, white light which reflects the true colors seen during daylight hours making them easy on the eyes (and fabulous for taking true to color pictures).
Lower Your Water Temperature
Water heating accounts for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home. I love me a super hot shower as much as the next girl, but how often do you turn your hot water on at full blast? Probably next to never… unless scalding yourself is your thing. Think about it – you probably turn the hot water on, followed by the cold in order to receive a stream of hot water at a manageable temperature (or if you’re me… you don’t turn the shower knob all the way to the left).
The simple act of lowering the temperature on your Water Heater to 120 degrees will not only save you money on your energy bill, you’ll also prevent accidental burns – especially if you have little ones in the house. It’s unlikely you’ll notice a difference in the temperature of your morning shower and you’ll spend less time fussing over getting the knobs turned just right. Win-Win.
Unplug Electronics Not In Use
I’m just as bad about this one as you are. Do I really need my Keurig plugged in 24/7? Heck no. Have you ever heard of Phantom Power? It’s the energy used by electronics when they are turned off but still plugged into a power outlet. And oh yes, it’s a legit thing. How many devices do you have plugged in right now that you aren’t even using right this very second?
You probably have a TV, DVD player, DVR, game console (or two if you’re this family), several lamps, coffee maker, blender, toaster, home stereo system, phone charger, phone docking system, printer, computer & monitor, hair dryer, and who knows what else all plugged in right now and you’re probably only using maybe 3 of them at any given moment!
Okay sure, unplugging some of these regularly is a huge pain and maybe not worth the effort for the couple of watts of power they are using every month being plugged in. That said, it adds up quickly. I’m personally trying to stay in the habit of unplugging my toaster when I’m not using it. I might make toast once a week. It’s not going to kill me to take an extra 2 seconds of my time to plug it back in for my crunchy carb goodness.
But what about those other electronics? You don’t really want to have to dig behind the TV and constantly unplug it/plug it back in. This is where power strips come in super handy. They aren’t just for being able to plug a bunch of stuff into a single outlet people! They were designed with this little predicament in mind. When you aren’t using your TV, consider flipping the switch on the power strip. You’ll save yourself quite a bit of money over the course of the year.
What are some ways you are saving energy and lowering your utility bills this summer? I’d LOVE to hear your ideas and success stories. Share with me in the comments below!