Did your monthly electric bill for June give you a cold shiver? Are you dreading the upcoming months when the weather really heats up? While you may not be able to avoid increased electricity use during the summer, there are steps you can follow to take the chill out of your electricity bill.
Conserving energy during these hot months not only saves you money, it is actually encouraged by your electrical utility company, which must ensure power to all customers, especially during peak demand periods such as from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), two Northern California-based utility companies, offer a variety of tips on saving home energy in the summer and throughout the year.
Keep your house cool
The easiest way to keep your house cool and save electricity is to not let it heat up. Inside your home, start with having good insulation in the attic and walls, and efficient weather-stripping and caulking around the doors and windows. Ensure your air duct connections and vent openings are well sealed to avoid any leakage. Also, close windows and draw the shades to keep in the cool air, preventing your home from heating up.
On the outside, the use of awnings, shade trees and over-hangs help deflect the heat from the sides of the house, which heats up your home. Check with your electrical utility company to see if they offer a free shade tree program.
Smart ways to cool your home
When it comes to your HVAC system, set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher when you're at home, health permitting; 85 degrees when everyone is away from home. If you've got an older home with a static thermostat, you can replace them with a programmable digital thermostat. These controls allow you to automatically turn off the system when no one is home and turn it back on for the hours that people are usually home.
Also, ensure your system's air filters are changed regularly. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make your system work harder to keep your home cooler, which means using more energy. In addition, you can use ceiling fans to generate a cool breeze. PG&E says if you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent.
Saving money through conservation can also lower your electric bill. Check to see that your appliances, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and other electrical equipment are running properly and regularly maintained for maximum efficiency. For example, clean your refrigerator's coils regularly and don't set the temperature too low. To save energy, keep your fridge's temperature between 38 degrees and 42 degrees Fahrenheit (your freezer should be between 0 degrees and 5 degrees). And about those second refrigerators or freezers in your garage–these appliances tend to be older and therefore use more energy.
If you're buying new appliances, be sure to check their EnergyStar rating to learn how much it will cost you in electricity. Another way to conserve energy is to swap out your old incandescent light bulbs for more energy-efficient and longer lasting ones, which now are available for most types of light fixtures.
We hope this information has been useful in finding ways to save on your energy bill. Maybe it has sparked additional ideas to conserve!