Notice a trend in your bills lately? Summer heat goes hand in hand with a rising electric bill, much to your dismay if you’re trying to save.
And while we’re all more cooped up this summer compared to past seasons, it’s no surprise that you may be running the A/C longer than you usually do. This puts many people who may already be feeling an economic strain in a tough position.
But maintaining a comfortable household should not come at the expense of defaulting on your utility bills. Even with the inevitable rise in costs during the summer, there are ways to decrease your usage and save money.
With a little background knowledge, and a few new tips on how to save on your utility bills, you’ll be able to break the trend of skyrocketing bills and find a cooler balance.
So why are your utility bills so much higher during the summer?
Let’s start with the obvious answer: the air conditioner. The increasing temperature outside is also affecting the temperature inside, which means your A/C is working longer and harder than it has during the first part of the year.
You also have to factor in that this summer is unusual compared to others. Due to restrictions in place because of COVID-19, people are spending more time at home, meaning they are using more electricity, water and energy than before. In fact, renewable energy company Arcadia expects this shift in lifestyle to cause an estimated 2-15% bill increase in U.S. metropolitan cities.
Gone are the days where you can bask in the cool air in your office for free. Now, with an estimated 35% of Americans working from home, people are expected to cover these expenses, which can add up quickly.
Not all hope is lost. There are still steps you can take to cut the costs of your utility bills this summer – and they don’t all involve shutting off your A/C.
Okay, well the first step may involve your air conditioner. We can’t bypass this one, especially when it comes to reducing your utility bills during the summer. Cooling your home accounts for 12% of U.S. energy expenditures, so finding times to put your A/C to sleep will undoubtedly help you save money.
The best way to change your relationship with your A/C is to pay attention to the times when it’s necessary to have it running. When you are not at home, try raising your thermostat between 78-80 degrees to maintain a temperature in your home that won’t require the A/C to work overtime. You can also turn your A/C off once the temperature outside cools down, like at nighttime.
Don’t depend on your A/C to do all the work. There are also ways that you can decrease the temperature inside your home. The key is to reduce the amount of sunlight, and thus heat, directed at your home through its most vulnerable parts: the windows.
Though it’s more enjoyable to fill your rooms with sun rays, it’s not so practical when you’re trying to save money on your utility bills. Make closing the drapes, blinds and curtains a habit during times when you are not home or for areas not in use.
If you don’t already have window coverings, it’s a good idea to install insulated curtains so that you can take advantage of this cost efficient tip.
Reducing your energy usage is all about running equipment or machines only when you need them. Even when your appliances aren’t turned on, they still manage to use energy and increase your bills. So when you’re not using things that suck up power, unplug them.
Though it may seem like an inconvenience at first, unplugging appliances and equipment when they are not in use, like your phone chargers, TV, blender, speakers or nightlights, will add up to major savings the next time you open your electricity bill.
Keep the heat out of your home by eating more fresh, raw meals, like salads or by cooking outside. Not only will you avoid the dreaded wait time it takes for your oven to preheat, but you will keep the overall temperature of your house down, which means less A/C usage.
Small changes like using LED light bulbs as opposed to incandescent bulbs, are another way to reduce your energy bill. There are numerous [benefits to switching to LED](https://www.energy.gov/articles/top-8-things-you-didn-t-know-about-leds light bulbs. Unlike CFL bulbs and fluorescent lights, LEDs use less heat to generate light. They also can last up to 25 times longer and are 6-7 times more energy efficient than other light bulbs.
If you’re missing that summer breeze, and are avoiding spending an extended amount of time outside, try different modes of ventilation inside your home. Ceiling fans can sometimes replace the A/C altogether, by reducing the temperature and circulating air throughout your home.
If you live in an area that cools down at night, you can also try opening the windows and letting the natural ventilation supplement the air conditioning.
Summer time might be the best time to experiment with lowering your water heater temperature. Just like A/C, hot water is responsible for a significant percentage of your utility bills, so reducing your usage is key to saving you money.
If lowering the water heater itself is not an option, you can also take shorter showers at a reduced temperature and wash your clothes in cold water. In addition to protecting the environment and preserving the fibers in your clothes, washing in cold water can save you over $60 each year.
While you’re at it, skip the dryer as well. Utilize the summer sun and dry your clothes outside.
None of these suggestions are limited to this season only. Though these may inspire you to save in other ways this summer, you should pay attention to your energy usage to reduce your utility bills year round. Instead of being surprised at the cost of each bill, track your savings so that you know which of these changes is the most beneficial to you.
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