It seems like winter just ended, but -- depending on where in the country you live -- you might already be thinking about cranking up your air conditioning. With that, however, comes the high electric company bills most homeowners dread. The average American household uses 903 kilowatt hours of electricity each month and pays $107 per bill; however, if you’re a heavy air conditioning user in a region with high energy costs, you already know your bill can get much, much higher than that.
And, of course, high energy use has broader implications as well. The U.S. used 13 times more electricity in 2013 than it did in 1950, and that’s a significant environmental concern. But with a few simple steps, you can moderate your energy usage this summer without sacrificing comfort, meaning you can stay cool without feeling guilty or anxious about the bills to come. Here are five do's and don’ts for maximizing your energy savings:
1. DO: Use a Programmable Thermostat
This may seem obvious, but it makes such a difference in energy conservation that it’s worth mentioning again. It’s estimated that a programmable thermostat can offer you a full 10% energy savings annually.
2. DON’T: Use Unnecessary Heating
You might think you’re not turning on the heat in the summer -- but are you baking, cooking on the stove or taking steamy showers? All that heat goes into your house, meaning your AC has to work overtime to keep the temperature down. Grilling is a great choice for more than one reason, but you could also use your microwave more or try to plan no-cook meals.
3. DO: Look Into New Window Coverings
The sun plays a significant role in heating up your house in the summer. Invest in solar screens, special curtains or new shades to keep it at bay.
4. DON’T: Forget to Switch Your Fans
One of the easiest summer energy solutions is giving your AC a hand with some simple household fans. But if your home does have ceiling fans, be sure to switch their direction. In the winter, fans should move clockwise to pull cool air up; in the summer, however, fans should move counterclockwise so that you feel a cool breeze blowing down. There's probably a switch on the side of your fan that you can flip to accomplish this.
5. DO: Take Advantage of Cold Spots
One easy way to get an energy reduction in your climate control use is to give up on getting your whole house the same temperature. Instead, take advantage of natural cool spots, such as the basement or rooms at the back of the house, and hang out there.
How else might homeowners get some energy savings this summer while staying cool? Share your suggestions in the comments.