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How to Save Money (and the Earth) This Summer By Using Less Energy

By Lindsay VanSomeren
May 26, 2018

You finally made it out of winter and those long months of high electricity bills—whew! But just because you’re no longer turning up the heat every day doesn’t mean it’s time to forget about energy conservation. In fact, there are tons of things you can do to save money on your electricity costs. Take a look at our 8 tips to lower your energy costs this summer.

Use fans instead of air conditioning

Did you know that by bumping up your thermostat four degrees the room temperature still feels the same – as long as you switch on a ceiling fan? Because fans work simply by moving air around and creating a wind chill effect, they’re a lot more energy efficient than air conditioners, which lower the temperature of the air but raise your electricity bill.

No ceiling fan? No problem. You can also use simple window fans to create the same effect. The best way to use box fans, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, is to place them in a window pointing outwards. Then, close all of the windows near the fan and open the furthest-away window to create a cooling effect throughout your whole home.

Use window treatments

We understand: you like the summertime sunshine, especially after the long winter blues. But that doesn’t mean that the sunlight needs to fall directly into your house. In fact, 76% of the sunlight that comes directly through your windows is converted to heat—ouch!

Instead, think about using window coverings like curtains, blinds, or even fancy shades to keep the direct sun out during the day. If you own your own home, you can also think about installing awnings over your windows. This will also help reduce your cooling bill.

Keep an eye on your lights

When your parents told you to turn off the lights when you leave a room, maybe you should have listened. About 10% of the energy usage in your home comes from lighting alone, according to U.S. Department of Energy. So, by developing a habit of turning off the lights, you’ll reduce your energy expenditure.

Another thing that helps is to replace all the bulbs in your house with energy-efficient LED bulbs. Admittedly, these are more expensive, but they last longer, use less electricity, and won’t heat up your home like old-school incandescent bulbs (triple win!)

Give your laundry process a makeover

Believe it or not, you can cut the energy usage from your washer in half by using cold water instead of hot, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Unless your clothes are filthy, you likely won’t notice a difference.

If you’re in the market for a new washer, consider a top-loading washer or a high-efficiency washer. These types of washers use less energy and water than traditional front-loading washers. But, what if you’re still stuck using a laundromat? You can save here as well by drying your clothes at home. To do this, use an outdoor laundry line, or a small folding rack that can fit into even the tiniest of apartments and still dry a full load or two. If you spend $1.25 per dryer load and wash two loads of laundry per week, this can save you $130 a year!

Rethink your dishwasher strategy

It can be tempting to run your dishwasher each night. But a better option is to wait until the dishwasher is full as this way you’ll run fewer loads – saving both energy and money.

In addition, here’s another crafty tip: when the wash cycle is done and the dishwasher kicks into drying mode, push the stop button and crack open the door. The dry cycle basically works like an oven to cook your dishes dry. Since they’re already warm, they’ll dry fast enough on their own. This will you save electricity, and keep excess heat from escaping into your kitchen.

Use different cooking methods

A hot summer evening is definitely not the time you want to fire up your oven for some faux-brick-oven pizza. Instead, try using other less energy-intensive appliances like microwaves or slow cookers. Better yet, get outside and fire up the grill! Besides, by grilling outdoors, you’ll avoid turning up the heat indoors meaning you won’t need to crank on the AC.

Lower the temperature on your water heater

Summer is hardly the time to think about using hot water, but did you know that your water heaters may be set too high? By lowering your water heater from 140 degrees to 120 degrees—all year round—you can shave up to $460 off your annual electric bill.

Adjusting your water heater’s temperature is not a difficult thing to do. You can even check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s website for information on how to check and adjust your water heater’s temperature.

Try an electricity usage meter

Perhaps the best way to lower your electricity bill is to find out how much you’re actually paying for each electrical device, and then decide whether you can lower your costs.

A good way to check on your electricity usage is with a home electricity usage meter. Simply plug it into an outlet and then plug in your appliances. The meter will measure electricity usage from that device. From here, you look up the cost of each kilowatt hour (kWh) on your electric company’s website and calculate exactly how much each appliance costs you. Some electricity meters even let you input the kWh price, giving you a direct readout of the cost.

Start saving energy and money right now

Regardless of how you decide to curb your energy costs this summer, when you free up cash, you’ll be able to sock that money away into your savings account. And just think: by following the 8 tips above, you may be able to save more money for your upcoming vacation or even start an emergency fund!

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