Annette R. Smith profile image

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.

Save Energy Save Money (Family Handyman)
Save Energy Save Money (Family Handyman)
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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.

The dog days of summer are good days for afternoon catnaps.
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The dog days of summer are good days for afternoon catnaps.
Set the thermostat between 78 and 80 degrees.
See all 6 photos
Set the thermostat between 78 and 80 degrees.
Source: Annette R. Smith

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.

Replace or clean your AC filters monthly.
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Replace or clean your AC filters monthly.

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.

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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 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.

Unplug electrical devices when not in use.
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Unplug electrical devices when not in use.

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.

Reduce the amount of hot water you use.
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Reduce the amount of hot water you use.
Source: Annette R. Smith

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.

Reference Sources

How will you cut your energy costs to save money this summer?
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How will you cut your energy costs to save money this summer?

 Last updated on December 8, 2013

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Comments 16 comments

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY Level 6 Commenter

You mentioned a lot of very useful points and I'm going to share this article with some friends. I have trouble convincing some friends about where to set the thermostat for the AC and hopefully they will understand what I'm saying when they read your hub.

There's another one I'm aware of that you might want to add to your hub. The cable box from my cable provider draws an awful lot of power. I calculated that it's roughly the same as a refrigerator. Even when it's turned off it's still really during power in order to keep its memory. If I were to unplug it then the next time I want to watch TV, and plug it back in, it takes 15 minutes to download new data and reboot itself. That's why needs to continually draw power. This may not be true for all cable boxes but it's important to check the wattage rating and to check if it stays hot when turned off. If more people complained to their cable carriers, maybe something would be done about this.

 
teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago Level 8 Commenter

All good suggestions for savings this summer, Annette. We do try to use the ceiling fans to cut down on energy usage around our home.

Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 2 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

Glenn, thank you for sharing your observation about/experience with cable boxes. Very informative, and important for readers to know. I'm glad you found my hub useful, and I appreciate the shares!

Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 2 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

Teaches12345, Ceiling and floor fans have really helped us cut down on energy usage and save money. So glad you found my suggestions helpful!

jcevans2009 profile image

jcevans2009 2 years ago from San Antonio, TX

So true about the AC filters...it does make a difference in the energy bill. We rely on our ceiling fans, too, to compensate for a higher thermostat setting. Great tips in this hub...voted up and useful!

Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 2 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

Hi, Judith! Thank you for your comments and encouragement. It's a hot summer in our city. Stay cool!

Liz Walmoth 2 years ago

These are great ideas on reducing energy. I didn't realize turned off devices leak energy. A very useful hub!

penlady profile image

penlady 2 years ago from Sacramento, CA

These suggestions are definitely needed in these hard economical times. I'm sure there are others out there looking for ways to save money as well. That's why I'm tweeting this hub as well as voting it up and useful.

Good job, Annette!

Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 2 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

Hello, Liz. Thank you for reading "7 Ways to Save Money This Summer." These tips have helped us trim down our energy bill, and I'm glad you found them helpful too!

Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 2 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

Your support and encouragement means a lot to me, penlady. Thank you for voting up my hub, and for sharing my link with your followers on Twitter. Blessings, Annette

renyou profile image

renyou 2 years ago

This is really helpful especially that it's already summer season. Great hub!

Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 2 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

It's a pleasure to meet you, renyou. Thank you for stopping by!

 
tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York Level 5 Commenter

So many great ideas in only seven points. My husband doesn't like to use our ceiling fans so I think I'm going to have him read this! Nicely done Annette.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 2 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

So glad you found some useful information here, Mary. Thank you for the votes and encouragement!

Mellonyy profile image

Mellonyy 23 months ago

What great sources to save money, I am glad you shared it, Annette! Voted up!

Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 23 months ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

Thank you, Mellonyy. We've followed these tips all summer, and our electric utility bills have been the lowest we've ever seen. It's been nice!

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