06/22/17 : Ben Somberg

Saving Money in the Summer: Home Cooling

To help you save money (and energy!) during the hottest months of the year, the Alliance to Save Energy is publishing a mini blog-series, “Saving Money in the Summer.” We’ll focus on key tips to improve energy efficiency at home and on-the-go. The first blog post will focus on how to save money when cooling your home.

Summer is officially here! And whether you like it or not, the higher temperatures often come with higher home utility bills because it can take quite a bit of energy to keep your home cool.

First, the good news: the Energy Information Administration predicts American households will use five percent less electricity this summer compared to last summer, due to lower temperature forecasts. But on the other hand, electricity rates will be 2.4 percent higher. The best way to keep your utility bills down is to ensure that you do not waste energy because wasting energy is like throwing money away. Fortunately, you can avoid it if you take the right steps.

Here are five ways to save money on home cooling:

1. Insulate

A key principle to keep in mind during the summer is that you want to keep the heat outside. In order to do that, it is important to have a well-insulated home. Not sure how that works? Take a look at this image to find out where your house needs to be insulated. For optimal efficiency, a home should be insulated from the roof down to its foundation, which could involve breaking down walls and ceilings. If you’re not ready for that, consider a simpler strategy: sealing small leaks. Here is how to detect them yourself.

2. Ventilate

Ventilation can help prevent the heat from building up. Make sure you turn on your exhaust fans in the kitchen ranges and in bathrooms when they are in use and even for some time after. Another strategy is to use ceiling fans, which will circulate the air in a room and allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F while keeping the same level of comfort. Learn everything you need to know about ventilation systems here.

3. Maintain your air conditioners

Routinely replace or clean your air conditioner’s filter, which can collect dust, reducing the efficiency of the system. And check the evaporator coil every year and remove dust there, as well. If you’re buying a new air conditioner, choose an ENERGY STAR-qualified unit.

4. Close the shades

Direct sunlight is a main contributor of heat in homes, yet too often shades or blinds are left open even when no one is home. While some window treatments are more effective than others at keeping out the sun’s heat, the worst option is forgetting to use them at all.

5. Reduce hot-water use

Heating hot water can use a lot of energy, even in the summer. Not only does it require energy to heat the water, but the hot water from a shower can inadvertently heat a home you are trying to cool. You can reduce this cost by installing low-flow showerheads and reducing the temperature of the water.