Summer is here with a vengeance and energy costs are quickly rising with the temperature. To help consumers reduce their home energy bills and help the nation reduce overall energy use, the U.S. Department of Energy offers consumers tips on smart energy practices during the hot summer months:
Smart Energy Practices
- A well-maintained cooling system will run more efficiently, use less energy, and lower energy bills, so clean or replace AC filters monthly or as needed. Also, keep both outdoor and indoor air conditioner coils clean. Dirt build-up on the indoor coil is the single most common cause of poor operating efficiency.
- Reduce the cooling load by effectively shading east and west windows. When possible, delay heat-producing activities such as dish washing until the evening. Close curtains during the day, and install awnings on south-facing windows. Plant shade trees or vines.
- Shift energy-intensive tasks such as laundry and dish washing to off-peak energy demand hours to increase electricity reliability during heat waves; do full loads when you run washers, dryers, and dishwashers; wash clothes in cold water when possible; clean the lint filter in your dryer after every load.
- Keep lamps or TVs away from the air conditioner thermostat. The heat they generate will cause your air conditioner to run longer, running up bills unnecessarily.
- Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
- Keep your house warmer than normal when you are away, and lower the thermostat setting to 78°F only when you are at home and need cooling. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
- Get the most energy-efficient air conditioner you can afford. Look for a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) 14 or higher on central systems and the Energy Star label on room units. Savings will show up on your next electric bill.
- Ceiling and other fans provide additional cooling and better circulation so you can raise the thermostat and cut down on air conditioning costs. Energy Star-certified ceiling fans do even better, moving air up to 20 percent more efficiently than conventional models, and those that include CFLs or LEDs are up to 50 percent more efficient than those with incandescent lighting and they last much longer.
- Sufficient insulation can increase your comfort and reduce your cooling costs up to 30 percent. Start with the attic – which can reach temperatures of 115 degrees or higher – followed by exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces. Insulate and seal attic air ducts, too.
- Plug energy leaks by caulking and weather stripping all seams, cracks and openings to the outside. You can save 10 percent or more on energy bills by reducing air leaks.
- Energy Star windows can reduce average cooling costs from 15 to 35 percent in central and southern climate zones.
- Cut utility bills by up to 30 percent with air conditioners, major appliances, lighting, and electronics that have the Energy Star label – the government’s symbol for energy efficiency.