As the mercury rises, our household energy costs tend to rise as well. The combination of higher demand on the electric grid and higher household consumption of energy as we try to keep our homes cool and comfortable, can result in skyrocketing electric bills. And in 2022, with global uncertainty driving higher energy costs worldwide, the average cost of electricity is going up. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average household in America saw increases of about 4% in February of this year as compared to February 2021, and higher rate hikes are almost surely on the horizon.
However, while there’s nothing we can do about higher energy prices, we can act to reduce our household energy consumption in ways that can mitigate the effects of higher energy rates. Some of these actions are simple, requiring very little change in our habits, while others may be a bit more complicated, but can provide longer-term benefits. All of them have the additional benefit of helping you live more sustainably, decreasing your carbon footprint and helping out the environment. Check out our list of six ways to reduce your summer energy bills.
1. Change Your Air Filters
Your home’s air conditioning system is one of your home’s biggest sources of energy, costs, especially in the summer. According to statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, air conditioning is responsible for about 12% of your home’s energy costs during the summer months.
Your home’s heating and cooling system is likely equipped with an air filter, which serves to help remove dust, animal hair, and dander from the air, serving to help keep your household’s air cleaner and protect your air conditioning unit from damage. Over time, though, these filters become clogged with impurities, meaning that your system must work harder to pull in air. This increased strain means higher energy consumption, and, over time, can damage your home’s HVAC system, as well as resulting in poorer indoor air quality.
Regularly replacing your HVAC unit’s air filter is an easy, inexpensive way to increase your home’s energy efficiency and improve the quality of the air you breathe. In fact, by some estimates, swapping out a clogged air filter can improve your HVAC unit’s efficiency by up to 15%. And most of us don’t change our home’s air filters often enough. How frequently you should change your air filter depends on the type of filter you’re using, whether you live in an area where dusty, dry air is prevalent, and whether you have household pets. For most fiberglass air filters, experts recommend changing the filter at least every 90 days, and more frequently if the filter looks dirty or clogged.
2. Use Fans To Supplement Your Home’s HVAC Unit
A ceiling fan can reduce the feel of your room’s temperature by up to 4 degrees. Fans help by evaporating the sweat on your skin, creating a “wind chill” effect. This effect can help you to feel cooler even if you raise your thermostat by a few degrees. Because fans cool people, not rooms, you can turn fans off in rooms that you’re not using, adding to your energy savings.
Remember to switch ceiling fans to counterclockwise operation during the summer months. This will allow the fan to push air downward and maximize its cooling effect.
In addition, use your bathroom’s ventilation fan when showering or bathing to keep hot, humid air from leaking into the rest of your home.
3. Use Window Treatments To Reduce Your Home’s Ambient Temperature
Opaque blinds or curtains that can be completely closed during the day can also help to reduce the load on your home’s HVAC unit and keep your home cooler. If you keep curtains or blinds closed over windows with a lot of sun exposure, you can reduce “heat gain” from these windows by up to 45%.
In the cooler early morning and evening hours, it’s a good idea to open windows up, allowing fresh air to circulate and giving your HVAC system a bit of a break.
4. Consider A Smart Thermostat
A smart thermostat is a programmable, wi-fi enabled device that allows you to set your heating and cooling settings for optimal energy performance. Smart thermostats can allow you to set your home’s temperature to maximize efficiency when you’re away from home or asleep, and can even turn your home’s HVAC system on when you’re on your way home, so you never have to arrive home to an uncomfortable house.
A smart thermostat can also provide important information about your energy habits, helping you to identify ways to increase efficiency and further reduce your home’s energy costs.
5. Reduce Leaks Around Your Home
Your expensive air conditioning is likely leaking out of your home in places you might not anticipate. Ensuring that doors and windows are tightly sealed and fit well can help to make sure you’re not paying to cool the outdoors. Adding caulking or weather stripping around doors and windows can provide a tighter seal and keep more of your cool air inside.
In addition, checking your home’s insulation is always a great idea — a better insulated home stays warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Replacing old, worn, or inefficient insulation can help to reduce your energy bills and increase your comfort.
6. Think About Your Other Appliances And Systems
Your home’s HVAC system isn’t the only appliance in your home that draws costly energy in the summertime. Ensuring that your home’s other appliances are working at peak efficiency can help to bring costs down. Setting your home’s water heater to 120 degrees, for example, can help to reduce the cost of hot water, while also preventing scalding.
Replacing your older, inefficient appliances with newer, Energy Star-rated models can also help to save on energy costs. Your home’s refrigerator, washer and dryer, and dishwasher can all draw significant amounts of power, and ensuring that they’re running as efficiently as possible can help to reduce your summer energy bills. Newer washing machines also allow you to wash clothing and other items in cold water, further reducing your energy consumption over time.
When Home Means More, You Need a Team With More to Offer
Ready to find the home that will make this the best summer ever? Let us help! Home is about so much more than just four walls. Buying or selling a home is a big deal, and with everything we’ve experienced recently, our homes have never been more important. That’s why your local Baird & Warner agent is with you at every step of the way, from finding the perfect home to connecting you with local experts in mortgage and title. Whether it’s the beginning of a story or the end of a chapter, we’re here to help.