If you have electric heat you probably associate winter with being the time of year you spend the most on electricity. In the summer, however, you're using air conditioners and fans to keep your house cool. Plus, your refrigerator and freezer have to work harder to keep the temperature down. Home energy audits are a great way to determine how you could lower your electricity usage. And who wouldn't want to use less electricity? It saves you money on your monthly utility bill and helps the environment in the process by requiring that power plants burn less coal and natural gas.
Energy auditsThere are a few ways you can get a better grasp on your electricity usage. The best way is to hire a professional who can come and assess your home to tell you exactly what can be improved. They have the knowledge and training to inspect areas of your home that might be dangerous to try to inspect yourself. Ultimately, they'll help you save in the long run so it's worth the cost. If you don't want to pay to have your home audited, you could do a DIY inspection. A great place to start is on your utility provider's website. Most providers allow you to log in and see things like your bill and usage history. You can even often view the average usage of neighboring households to give you an idea of where you stand. This is helpful because the people in your neighborhood likely have homes comparable to yours in terms of size, energy-efficiency, and climate/weather. So, if you're spending a lot more than your neighbors, it could be a sign of an issue.
Ways to saveThere are hundreds of ways you can cut back on electricity in your home, some more feasible than others. Below you'll find both common and little-known methods of lowering your electricity usage in the summer months. We've separated them into two categories: temperature control and everything else. Temperature control
- Smart tech. Turn off the AC or adjust the thermostat when you don't need it. Better yet, install a programmable thermostat so you don't have to remember to turn the temperature up before you leave for work.
- Whole house fans. These ingenious fans suck hot air into your attic. If all your windows are open, it will draw in the cool air from outside and it's cheaper than having several fans or air conditioners running.
- Use fans correctly. Window fans that bring in cool air are great, but having several ceiling or floor fans running when you're not in front of them are just using electricity and aren't affecting the air temperature very much.
- Time your windows. As a rule, open windows overnight to let in air then close them in the morning. Use black-out curtains during the day as well to stop the sun from heating the inside of your home.
- Power strips. Plug your electronics into power strips and turn them off when they're not in use. Many electronics continue using electricity even when they're not powered on.
- Dishwasher. Don't run it until it's full.
- Refrigerator/freezer. Buy a size that makes sense for your home. Having a large refrigerator or extra freezers running in the basement use a lot of extra electricity.
- Lighting. Replace all of your lights with energy-efficient CFL or LED bulbs.
- Clothes. Wash full loads and dry them outside on a clothesline.
- Maintenance. Makes sure ACs, refrigerators, and washers/dryers are all cleaned, especially air vents. Replace old appliances with newer, energy-efficient models.