Tips to cool your home for less
Summer’s warmer weather can also bring higher electricity bills. Here are ways to cool your home more efficiently and keep control of your bill
Track your energy usage and costs two ways
- Enroll online to see your energy usage by the day, week or hour, and pinpoint where you use energy so you can learn ways to save.
- Set up text or email notifications to get weekly estimated bill amounts, mid-month high-bill alerts and more.
Take advantage of cooler outdoor air
- If it’s safe, open windows during cooler nights and mornings (make sure open windows are safe for children), using a fan to draw cool air in.
- When it gets to about 75 to 80 degrees out, close windows, doors and window coverings to keep cool air in — and use an indoor fan. Running a portable window fan instead of an AC unit at night can save an average home an estimated monthly savings of $32.
- Run appliances such as ovens, stovetops, dishwashers and clothes dryers at night or in the early morning.
- Fans can circulate cooled air throughout the house, and bring cool morning or evening air inside.
- Turn off fans when no one is in the room or when not trying to circulate cooled air.
Use window air conditioning efficiently
- Make sure the unit fits the room/house size – if it’s too large, you’ll pay for cooling you don’t need.
- Depending on the age and efficiency of the equipment, consider upgrading to an ENERGY STAR unit.
- Keep window units running until the air cools enough outside to open the windows or use a portable fan. Window units work best when left to run for long periods of time, rather than being turned on and off. When temperatures are high, AC units work harder and longer to maintain the same inside temperature, which may impact your bill.
Have central air? Make it as efficient as possible.
- Set the thermostat 10 degrees higher than normal if you’re going to be away for more than half the day. Your cooling will run less frequently, but your home won’t get super hot.
- If you’re leaving for longer than a day — say a trip out of town — then go ahead and turn off the cooling to save energy. If you have a programmable thermostat, you can set it to start cooling an hour or so before you return so you arrive to a comfortable home.
- Clean or change your furnace filter every three months, and get regular tune-ups to keep your system running efficiently.
- When cooling the whole house be sure to keep all windows and doors closed.
- When it’s time to get a new system, consider a high-efficiency heat pump for year-round efficiency.
Keep the house shaded
Close curtains on sun-facing windows or use awnings during the day and when running AC units. White window shades, drapes or blinds can reflect heat away from the house.
Weatherize your home
Make sure your ducts are sealed or insulated, and use weather-stripping or caulking around doors, windows, pipes, and cracks. No matter how efficient your heating and cooling system, you’ll waste energy and your home will feel drafty if it isn’t weatherized.
Air travels in and out of your house through every little gap and crack. Insulating and sealing your home’s shell minimizes those air leaks and keeps your heated (or cooled) air inside. Community Energy Project can help.
Check thermostat accuracy and setting
- Set central air thermostats to 76 degrees, rather than 70 degrees. This difference can result in an estimated monthly savings of about $13.
- Avoid putting lamps or TVs that emit heat near the thermostat.
- Make sure the thermostat is accurate. Walk through the house with an instant-read cooking thermometer to see if the air temperature matches the setting.
- Upgrading to a programmable or smart thermostat can help save costs season after season.
- Lower the water heater temperature to 120 degrees and turn off zonal heat at the breaker panel instead of at the thermostat.
- Avoid cooking with a stove or conventional oven; instead use a microwave or barbecue outdoors.
- Limit use of incandescent lighting and consider switching to cooler LEDs. They last longer and use up to 85% less energy.
Watch out for other summer triggers
Summer guests or additional people home during the day can increase energy use for hot water, cooking and cooling. New appliances or air conditioning units, big screen TVs, pools, hot tubs and fountains can also increase costs from the previous year.
Want more tips? We’ve got ‘em: See No-cost & Low-cost Tips.