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Ways to Reduce Utility Bills During the Dog Days of Summer

August 23, 2023

As we push through the final months of summer, battered by record heat waves, the effort to save on utility bills is at its peak. The increase in demand on the grid is usually passed on to us, the consumer, as a higher energy bill. Is there anything we can do to keep cool and reduce costs?  

Here are eight tips to help you beat the heat and save money that you make not have thought of:

1. Give your air conditioner a checkup

One of the most important factors in reducing energy costs and keeping cool is maximizing the efficiency of your cooling systems. Clearing a clogged A/C unit filter alone can save 5 to 15 percent in energy use, and will help keep the unit in proper working order for longer – saving you money on expensive replacements down the road.

2. Adjust your thermostat

Living in the South makes this one a tough one.  In the summer, especially on particularly hot days, “adjusting the thermostat” evokes the feeling of furiously pressing the down arrow on the control panel. Unfortunately, this is also the most efficient way to maximize your energy bill. During the summer months, try to keep your thermostat at a temperature just cool enough to keep you comfortable, and then bump it up a degree. One study found that each degree a thermostat is set above 75⁰F could save 10-15 percent in energy used!

3. Spend time outdoors

We know what you’re thinking – I’m trying to stay cool! But now is a great time to enjoy “back porch sitting”  What is summer for other than getting together with friends and enjoying the things we can’t during the colder months? When you’re out of the house, you’re not using energy that would otherwise be used to cool you off. Turning off lights, air-conditioning, and not using energy-consumers like water heating or cooking can help reduce your energy costs. Every minute counts!

4. Unplug devices

Unplugging devices from their respective outlets or using smart power strips can help reduce energy costs by eliminating “phantom” or “standby” electricity that appliances, chargers, and standard power strips use, even when not in use.  Doesn’t seem like it would generate a lot of savings, but every little smart trick to save matters.

5. Use fans instead of A/C

Did you know fans use roughly 1/60th the energy of an air conditioner? Ceiling fans can cut back on air conditioning needs, saving up to 40 percent on electricity. Fans, while they don’t cool the air, they pull body heat away from your skin, and can be used in conjunction with air conditioning, letting you raise your thermostat a few degrees and still remain comfortable. And, who doesn’t love sleeping under a fan?

6. Plants can provide much needed shade

You may have experienced the phenomenon of walking into the shade on a hot summer day and instantly feeling a significant difference in temperature. Now imagine if your house could be in the shade during the hottest hours of the day! Planting shrubs and trees on the south and west sides of your house, or at least over your outdoor A/C unit, can make your cooling systems up to 10 percent more efficient.

7. Lower your water heating costs

Water heating accounts for about 18 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Lowering the temperature of your water heater can help save energy, and who needs a scalding hot shower in the summer anyway?

Laundry, another water-hog, can also be optimized in the summer. Make sure you maximize your loads – this not only gets you more for your money, but also helps you do laundry less often. Doing laundry with cold water is another way to save even more on your energy bills.

8. Close doors & vents

If you’re at home, closing doors and A/C vents in rooms that are not in use can help make your cooling system more efficient. By not wasting energy cooling rooms that no one is in, it takes less energy (and money!) to keep you comfortable.

There ya go!  Several good ideas to stay cool and enjoy the dog days of summer!  Remember, we will be throwing on jackets and complaining about the chill before you know it!

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