Summer electric bills can hit astronomical heights as the temperature climbs. While we can’t control the weather (as much as we all wish we could), we can use our smart sense and love for the planet to conserve energy and save ourselves some serious cash. To avoid opening your electric bill and seeing a charge the size of the national debt, use this quick checklist to make sure your home is energy-efficient and cool as a cucumber.
Don’t let your air conditioning run when it’s not needed. Most thermostats now have built in scheduling options to make sure you are using your air conditioning as efficiently as possible. Let the house stay warmer during the hours you’re at work and set it to cool down about half an hour before you will arrive at home. If you live in an area where the evenings are cooler, have the system shut off entirely and open your windows to let in all the crisp evening air in overnight.
The last thing you want to do on a hot summer day is slave over a hot stove, and to be perfectly honest, it’s pretty much asking for your electric bill to skyrocket. Worse yet, using your oven, if you haven’t figured out yet, makes running your air conditioning a Sisyphean exercise. Get yourself a collection of no-cook recipes including sandwiches and salads that the family loves and ask little to nothing of your stovetop.
You should also embark on a quest to become a master griller. Fine, you don’t have to master the art of grilling, but cooking outside is an immensely useful skill during the summer months. This is a double win – not only because you will avoid heating up the house but you also minimize your post-meal cleanup as well.
Upgrade and update
If your home was built more than twenty years ago, it’s likely that you are in need of some serious upgrades to have an energy efficient home. If it’s in the cards (OK, really if it’s in the bank account) replace your windows with new energy-efficient, double-paned windows. New, state-of-the-art windows block considerably more heat from the sun than old, single-paned windows. If your air conditioning unit is more than fifteen years old, there is no doubt that a new unit will save you significant amounts of money with updated efficiency. You should also consider upgrading the insulation in your home to help regulate the temperature throughout all seasons.
If a big overhaul isn’t possible, there are many smaller improvements you can make that will have a large impact on the energy efficiency of your home. Make sure the seals around all of your windows and doors are in good condition and aren’t letting hot air in and cool air out. Install ceiling fans, especially in second story rooms, to help circulate the air throughout the room. Lastly, add sun-protective window coverings to reduce sun exposure during peak hours of the day.
Updated home checklist:
- Programmable thermostat
- Ceiling fans
- Double-paned and gas-filled windows
- Solar panels
- Upgraded insulation
Invest in solar
Solar energy panels have become much more affordable and efficient in recent years. If you really want to subvert the establishment, or, you know, just make your home so energy efficient that the power company ends up owing you money every month, invest in solar power for your home. This is especially usefully if you not only have central air conditioning but also a pool that you heat in the summer months.