While summer is a great time to enjoy many outdoor activities, it can take a toll on our pocket books because of increased utility costs. Air conditioning units and dehumidifiers are working overtime to keep our homes comfortable. With the kids home from school, electronic devices are used more often, and family vacations can lead to more laundry.
Here are some tips to reduce your utility bills this summer.
1.Don’t forget to program your thermostat. During the winter, I program the thermostat to turn down during the day. In the summer, I don’t adjust the settings. Depending on your kids and pets, it may make more sense to leave the settings alone. It may help to know, however, that for every degree above 72, you can reduce your expenses by as much as 3%.
2.Use fans to keep cool. Depending on your floor plan, fans can be a great way to help cool things down in your home. Since I live in a two story, our second floor is always warmer. At bedtime, I increase the temperature on the air conditioner and rely on our ceiling fans to keep cool. Portable and ceiling fans are inexpensive ways to keep air moving in your home.
3.Change or clean your furnace filter regularly. A dirty filter will restrict airflow, which causes your furnace to work harder. A furnace that works overtime will increase your utility bill. Most filter manufacturers recommend changing your filter every three months. If you have pets in your home, you may need to do it more frequently.
4.Replace your lightbulbs. Production of 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs ceased January 1, 2014. While you may still be able to find them, consider replacing old incandescent bulbs with LEDS or other more efficient bulbs to help reduce your electric bill. And don’t forget to turn off your lights when you leave the room. To learn more about lightbulbs, check out my blog, “Can you see what’s going on in your house?”
5.Unplug unused electronic devices. Many electronic devices (e.g., TVs, gaming consoles, computers, and DVD players) are plugged in all the time in today’s homes. If these devices aren’t used regularly, consider unplugging them. Even when not in use, they use electricity and generate heat. Definitely unplug them if you’re going on vacation for an extended period.
6.Wash in cold. If you do more laundry during the summer, consider washing your clothes in cold water instead of warm or hot. If you use more cold water, your water heater will run less.
7.Enjoy dinner on your patio or deck. Enjoy a nice family dinner outside. This will reduce the need to turn on lights or the TV for entertainment. Instead, make family conversation your entertainment.
8.Good ole fresh air. If your city doesn’t have an ordinance against clotheslines, hang your laundry out to dry.
9.Buy a rain barrel. Rain barrels are becoming popular and can be purchased at many of the big box retailers. This is a great way to collect rainwater for watering your plants or garden. In addition, consider redirecting your gutter system to low-lying gardens or landscape beds.
10.Fire up the grill. I enjoy grilling out year round, especially on hot days. By not using the oven, you can prevent the indoor temperature from rising. Be sure to stay hydrated while you’re outside.
11.Open the windows in the evening. If the temperature cools off in the evening, turn off your air conditioner and open your windows.