Go Green and Save on Your Summer Energy Bill (and Year-round) with These 5 Tips
Summertime can be full of fun for many people who want to get out and enjoy the nicer weather. Unfortunately, it can also mean higher energy bills and a bigger drain on natural resources as people try to keep cool. It is possible, however, to stay more comfortable this summer and save on your energy bills at the same time.
When you conserve energy, you not only help your bills now, you also save for the future. These five tips are designed to help you save on your summer energy bills – and in some cases save year round as well – while still ensuring that you get the maximum comfort and enjoyment out of this time of year. Follow these five tips to get more out of your summer without taking more out of your pocketbook.
1. Install a Solar Water Heater
Regardless of the time of year, your home requires hot water. Whether you’re bathing or washing dishes, hot water is integral to everyone’s lives. The longer, sunny days of summer make this the ideal time to invest in a solar water heater. Solar water heaters harness the sun’s energy to heat water held in reserve for use. Cooler water sinks to the bottom of the tank to be warmed, while the hot water is pushed upwards into a tank to be used. These systems can be used in any home and in any climate, provided you have enough daily sunlight. As a bonus, this is also an interesting way of introducing solar energy into your home.
According to Energy.gov, most people will save about $200 a year on energy bills by making the switch.
2. Stop Air Gap
One of the biggest sources of energy loss in the home is air transfer or an air gap. Air transfer happens when small cracks around windows and doors allow outside air in, and inside air out.
Air gaps can mean that the energy you use to heat and cool your home can fly right out the door. Sealing up gaps is one of the most effective ways of not only saving energy, but making your home more comfortable at the same time.
While replacing your windows with Energy Star efficient options can turn out to be a costly upgrade, an equally effective, and not as expensive, way to stop air gap is with weatherstripping. The cost of this simple project is around $168 for the whole house, and will save you roughly 15% on your heating and cooling bills each year.
3. Install an Attic Fan
If your home has an attic, running an attic fan can help you save energy year round. Attic fans remove superheated air from the attic, where it naturally collects. Both heat rising from the interior, and the sun’s heat hitting the roof contribute to the extreme attic temperatures. The heat that builds in your attic can now be transferred back through the ceiling to the floors below. This in turn raises your cooling bills as you attempt to get the home more comfortable.
Attic fans – and in particular solar attic fans – prevent this heat transfer. They keep air circulating through the attic space so it doesn’t have a chance to build up. This helps you keep your cooling bills lower, and helps protect your roof from the deterioration that heat can cause.
Some studies have seen a drop in total kilowatt hours of energy consumed by about 20% when using an attic fan. Investing in a solar fan – which costs around $650 – may help you save even more.
4. Home Automation
Home automation is on the rise – and with good reason. Not only does it make life easier and more convenient for many people, it’s also a fantastic way to save energy year round. Home automation exists for many areas of the home, including things like the thermostat and your lights.
By switching to a smart thermostat, you can control the temperature of your home better. Shut off the air or heat when you aren’t at home, have the system adjust itself to your habits, or even control it from afar from your smartphone.
Smart lights can sense when you’re in a room or not, and turn themselves on and off accordingly. No more leaving a light on when you leave a room and wasting the energy; the lights will see to themselves so you don’t need to worry.
In fact, studies by Energy Star have found that people that have made the switch see as much as a 66% drop in energy bills once they switched to smart thermostats, which cost around $400 – $700 – and other smart energy saving appliances.
5. Switch Out Your Lightbulbs
Many people have already made the switch to LED or CFL lights. But some light fixtures in your home may still have incandescent light bulbs inside them, particularly if they aren’t used as frequently as other lights in a room. Reading lamps and other fixtures sometimes get more use in the summer, as you only need a little extra light to see by in the evenings. Unfortunately, if those fixtures have an incandescent lightbulb in them, then they are likely contributing to your energy costs.
The light produced by an incandescent bulb uses only 10 – 15% of the energy that powers it. The rest of the energy goes into generating heat. This means that not only is the bulb using far more energy than it needs to, it’s making your home more uncomfortable, and causing you to run your AC and other cooling appliances more often, which in turn utilizes even more energy.
By making the switch to a more efficient lightbulb, you can eliminate this problem. LED bulbs in particular are now available in a range of different light colors, so you can still have the warm, yellow glow of an incandescent bulb if that’s what you prefer, but at a fraction of the energy cost.
Bonus tip: Adopt Eco-Friendly Habits
In addition to the above changes to your home, you can save even more with simple lifestyle changes. In addition to utilizing natural light and ventilation whenever possible, and spending more time outdoors, you can save energy by making a few simple changes this summer.
Clothes dryers and the drying cycle on your dishwasher can eat up a lot of energy. During the warmer months of the year, however, they aren’t always necessary. By hanging clothes to dry and skipping the drying cycle in your dishwasher, you can save 3000 watts of energy each cycle. While this may not seem like much, over the course of the summer, it can add up to significant energy savings. At the same time, by air drying your clothes, you’re saving wear and tear, which means they’ll last longer saving you more on future clothing costs and the energy used to produce them as well.
Energy.gov also mentions letting your dishes air dry as one of the smartest ways you can save energy in your kitchen. You can do this all year as well, not just in the summer so you can save more often.
Enjoy Your Summer Savings
Saving energy this summer doesn’t mean needing to sacrifice your comfort. With these tips you can stay cool and lower your energy bills at the same time. Saving energy isn’t just a one and done proposition either; you’ll continue to see the benefits of these actions years after you take steps to lower your energy consumption. Take the time to modify your home to ensure you can keep things cool and comfortable, while reducing your energy load each month. You’ll find that the savings far outweighs any initial outlay, while also ensuring that you get the maximum amount of enjoyment out of your home this summer.