7 Ways to Save Money This Summer
Save Energy, Save Money
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When is your home's energy use at its peak? More than likely right now, during the dog days of summer.
Merriam-Webster defines dog days as "the period between early July and early September when the hot, sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere." With energy costs on the rise, these dog days could bite.
Fortunately, there are ways to trim your costs and save money without sacrificing your air conditioner or suffering through the heat.
According to the United States Department of Energy, half of your home's energy bill goes to cooling and heating costs. Here are seven ways to cut your cooling costs and save money this summer.
1. Set Your Thermostat
... between 78 and 80 degrees when you're home, and to 85 degrees when you're away.
Your home's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system accounts for nearly 60 percent of your total energy bill. Since it runs at least half the day, it's the highest energy-using appliance in your home.
Is 78 degrees too warm for your comfort? Use ceiling fans or room fans to move the air and cool your rooms. And drink more water! It will cool you down and improve your health.
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2. Program Your Settings
... with a programmable thermostat. We use a simple Honeywell model that we purchased at a local home improvement store. It allows us to control our temperature settings and save on energy costs.
Some cities provide programmable thermostats for their residential customers. San Antonio, Texas, residents can apply for a FREE Smart Thermostat (Peak Saver Thermostat) from CPS Energy or call 866-222-7645 for details.
3. Change Your Filters
... at least once a month. Every two weeks is best for optimal performance.
Air conditioner (AC) filters get dirty quickly during the summer months. A dirty filter puts a strain on the system, making it run harder and longer. Not only will this create a higher energy bill, but it will also shorten the life of your system.
We're fortunate because the maintenance staff regularly replaces the AC filter in our apartment. If you're a homeowner, don't overlook this important way to save money and energy this summer.
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4. Use Ceiling Fans
... and portable fans to cool your home. Fans circulate the air and make a room feel cooler, so you can set the thermostat higher.
We never rent an apartment without ceiling fans, and oscillating tower or table fans give all of our rooms a nice breeze.
Granted, our small apartment home-sweet-home is easy to keep cool in the summer. But with our fans running, our thermostat rarely drops below 78 degrees!
5. Turn Off or Unplug
... your electrical devices when they're not in use. This includes the fans, televisions, stereos, DVD players, computers, power tools, kitchen appliances, lamps, and lights.
And don't forget the cell phone chargers, MP3 players, digital cameras, cordless phones, and other electronic devices.
It's generally better to unplug your devices than simply turn them off. Even turned off, they can leak electricity as standby power, also called "vampire energy" or "phantom load."
Cut back on the energy leaks with a power strip. It will save you money, energy, and peace of mind.
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6. Use CFL Bulbs
... instead of standard incandescent bulbs.
Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs are energy savers, and a good alternative to conventional bulbs.
The electric current inside incandescent bulbs heat a thin filament to make the bulbs glow. Although the light is soft and warm, standard bulbs lose most of their energy as heat.
The electric current in CFL bulbs energizes argon and mercury vapor to cause a phosphor coating inside the bulbs to glow. The light is much brighter, but the bulbs use very little energy and lose little heat.
CFL bulbs are a little more expensive than standard incandescents, but they pay for themselves in energy bill savings. As our standard light bulbs burn out, we're making the switch to CFL bulbs.
7. Reduce Hot Water
... when you shower, wash the dishes, or do the laundry. This is a very practical way to cut energy costs this summer.
Switching from hot water to warm or cold water, or using the lowest temperature setting possible, can greatly reduce water heating costs.
Low-flow shower heads, water faucet aerators, shorter laundry and dishwater cycles, and even shorter showers will save you energy, water, and money this summer.
Reference Sources / Further Reading
- CPS Energy. (August 2012) "9 Tips to Save During the Dog Days of Summer." San Antonio, TX: CPS Energy: Energy Connection. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
- Merriam-Webster. (n.d.) "Dictionary Entry: Dog Days." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
- U.S. Department of Energy (December 2011) "Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Money and Energy at Home." Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
Copyright © 2012. Annette R. Smith. All rights reserved.
Published: August 6, 2012 / Modified: February 25, 2013.
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