7 Ways to Save Money this Summer
Household energy use peaks during the dog days of summer. Here are seven ways to cut your cooling costs and save money during the summer months.
When is your home energy at its peak? More than likely, it is peaking 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 continually on the rise, these dog days could bite you in the wallet.
Fortunately, there are ways to trim your costs and save money without sacrificing your summer air conditioning and suffering through the heat.
According to the United States Department of Energy, half of your home's energy bill goes toward cooling and heating costs. Here are seven ways to cut your home's cooling costs and save some money this summer.
1. Set Your Thermostat
... between 78 and 80 degrees when you are at home, and to 85 degrees when you are 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 is 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.
2. Program Your Settings
... with a programmable thermostat. We use a simple Honeywell model that we purchased at a 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 may be necessary for optimum 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 are fortunate because the maintenance staff regularly replaces the AC filter in our apartment. If you are a homeowner, don't overlook this important way to save money this summer.
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 have never rented an apartment without ceiling fans, and oscillating towers and table fans give all of our rooms a nice breeze.
With the fans running, the AC thermostat in our "home sweet home" rarely dips below 78 degrees. Of course, it is easier to cool a small apartment than a large home, so your thermostat setting may differ from ours. But fans can certainly save you money.
5. Turn Off or Unplug
... your electrical devices when they are 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 is generally better to unplug your devices than to simply turn them off. Even when they are turned off, they can leak electricity as standby power. This is called "vampire energy" or "phantom load."
Cut back on the energy leaks with a power strip. It will save money, energy, and peace of mind.
6. Use CFL Bulbs
... instead of standard incandescent light bulbs.
Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs are energy savers, and a good alternative to conventional bulbs.
The electric current inside incandescent bulbs heats 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, which causes a phosphor coating inside the bulbs to glow. The light is much brighter, but the bulbs use much less energy and lose very little heat.
CFL bulbs are more expensive than standard incandescents, but they pay for themselves in energy bill savings. As our standard light bulbs burn out, we are 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 save money 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 energy, water, and money this summer.
- 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.
Last updated on December 8, 2013
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