Stay cool and cut costs this summer with these energy saving tips!
When the mercury rises during the Texas summer, your electric bill is soon to follow. In fact, you may use as much as three times the energy during the Lone Star State's warmer months! But going without the AC isn't an option, so what can we do to cut costs without burning up? Don't sweat it - check out these 10 energy saving tips for summers in Texas!
1. Manage your thermostat
Running your AC during the Texas summer is unavoidable. As the days become hotter and hotter, the unit has to constantly kick on to keep your house cool. However, that doesn't mean that you can't make a few adjustments to maximize its efficiency.
Most homes have a programmable thermostat these days, but there are plenty of people who don't take advantage of it. Whether you have a smart thermostat
or a standard programmable thermostat, both options can go a long way to helping you save money on your energy bill. Ideally, they can help you establish a schedule to prevent your AC from working to cool your home when you're not around.
Keeping your thermostat set to 78 degrees when you are home is generally accepted to be the perfect balance between comfort and energy consumption. If no one is going to be home for four or more hours, have your thermostat hold the temperature about four degrees higher. However, if you have pets, it's important to keep them in mind when setting your thermostat as they can easily overheat during the summer
2. Fire up the grill and reduce indoor cooking
Cooking indoors can generate a substantial amount of heat - heat that your AC is going to have to compensate for. This is especially true for ovens, which reach high temperatures for long periods of time.
Instead of cooking indoors during the summer, consider preparing more meals on an outdoor grill
. If you need to bake something, consider using a toaster oven instead of a conventional oven. They often use significantly less energy and you can place them outside on your deck or patio to prevent the heat from escaping into your home.
3. Dry clothes outside and reduce machine use
The sun can feel oppressive sometimes, but you can also make it work for you! As you can imagine, running a clothes dryer produces a lot of heat
inside your house. Instead of using the machine, consider putting up a clothes line and drying your laundry in the ample sunlight.
Additionally, running your washing machine can produce extra heat and use more energy - especially if you're using hot water. While certain types of clothes require warm or hot water to clean, consider using cold water whenever possible.
4. Reduce peak hour energy usage
During the hottest hours of the day, the demand on the electrical grid can be quite high. For this reason, many electricity companies charge a higher rate during "peak hours." Furthermore, it is during this time of the day that your own AC unit is working its hardest to keep you cool.
For these reasons, consider limiting (or eliminating) the use of any appliances during the hottest part of the day. Not only can this help you save money on your electric bill, it can help you keep your house a little cooler. While the exact hours may vary based on your specific energy company, peak hours are typically around 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. In Texas, the hottest part of the day is usually somewhere between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
5. Take care of your HVAC system
During the summer, your HVAC or AC unit is your best friend. That's why it's so important to take care of it! There are a number of points in an AC system that can accumulate dust and debris, which can have a huge impact on its efficiency. The result is that it has to work harder to keep your home cool, which uses a lot more energy.
In order to maximize your unit's efficiency, make sure that you regularly clean or replace the air return vent filter inside your house. Typically, this is done every 90 days or so, but during the summer, it doesn't hurt to check it more frequently just to be sure.
Additionally, you may also want to check and clean the condenser
, which is outside your home. The condenser coils can gather leaves and dust, which can inhibit airflow. If you're not comfortable checking it on your own, consider having an HVAC professional inspect the unit.
6. Keep blinds and shades closed
If you're leaving the house, or simply not using a particular room, consider drawing the shades closed or closing the blinds. Not only does this prevent the sun's rays from gradually heating up your home, it can protect your furniture, carpet, and floors from the damaging effects of UV light
7. Use energy saving bulbs
The sun isn't the only light source that can cause your energy bill to go up during the summer; inefficient bulbs can have an impact, too! Replacing the bulbs in your fixtures with either compact fluorescent or LED bulbs can be a great way to conserve energy. Not only are these bulbs more energy efficient, they are substantially brighter than your standard bulb and last a lot longer.
8. Stir things up with fans
There are a number of ways to cool off when the heat is on. Fans may not have the same cooling effect as your AC, but by circulating the air, they can help keep you cool by removing the warm air from around your body.
While a fan in and of itself isn't going to be enough during the hottest part of the day, it can work with your AC and potentially help you reduce the amount of time it has to run. If you're hot, consider turning on a ceiling fan before turning to the thermostat. For rooms without ceiling fixtures, a simple oscillating fan can do wonders. Either option will be more energy efficient than constantly running the AC!
9. Keep your thermostat cool
All thermostats work by detecting the temperature of the air surrounding it. If something in the general vicinity of your thermostat is generating heat, it may think that your house is hotter than it really is, which can cause the AC to work overtime.
Electronic appliances, such as powerful personal computers and refrigerators, are some of the most common sources of heat in a house. While moving your thermostat isn't really practical, you may want to consider moving any electronics away from it if possible.
Apart from electronics, direct sunlight can also trick your thermostat. If you notice that your thermostat is frequently bathing in sunlight, consider closing the blinds or putting up some sort of window shade.
10. Conserve energy while on vacation
If your summer plans include vacations, or otherwise being away from your home for an extended period of time, there are a few things you can do to reduce energy use while you're gone.
Although a programmable thermostat is great for keeping costs down when you are coming and going on a daily basis, you'll want to make sure to modify its schedule if you're leaving for a greater length of time. Some thermostats have vacation modes which allow you to change the schedule without erasing the previous daily routine. Either way, you want to make sure it doesn't cycle constantly while you're gone.
Did you know that even when powered off, many electronics still draw power as long as they are plugged in
? Things like computers, modems, and cable boxes can all still use energy even if you think they're off. Before you go on vacation, consider unplugging such items from the wall. Alternatively, you can plug them into a power strip, which can act as a buffer between the device and the power outlet when it is switched off.
Finally, for long trips, you may want to turn off or lower the temperature of your water heater. Like thermostats, some hot water heaters have a vacation mode, and some allow you to manually lower the temperature. This isn't likely to save you very much during the short term, but may add up over time.
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