With household budgets already stretched, staying cool while saving money will be an important goal for many families this summer. To help, the nation’s electric utility industry has compiled its top 10 tips.
1. Make sure your house has the proper amount of insulation. Insulation is vital for keeping cool air inside your home and hot air outside. But, don’t waste money by having too much or too little insulation. Find out how much is just right for your home by visiting this U.S. Department of Energy Web site.
2. If your central air conditioner is more than 12 years old, consider replacing it—a new ENERGY STAR qualified model could cut your cooling costs by about a third. But, don’t buy new equipment until you’ve already taken all the low- and no-cost steps you can to make your home more energy efficient. Check out EEI's More Than 100 Ways to Improve Your Electric Bill for more information.
3. Give your air conditioner a tune-up. Having your AC unit serviced each year can help you save on cooling costs. It’s also a good insurance policy against a mid-summer breakdown.
4. Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows. Take the time to make sure your home’s windows and doors are properly caulked and weather-stripped. Leaks waste a surprising amount of money—a 1/8th of an inch crack all the way around a doorway creates the same air loss as a 6-inch square hole in the middle of your door.
5. If you have single-pane windows or old double-pane windows, consider replacing them—ENERGY STAR-qualified windows, as well as doors and skylights, can reduce your energy bills up to 15 percent. However, don’t make a large investment in energy-saving equipment until you’ve taken all the lower-cost steps to make your existing windows more energy efficient.
6. Buy energy-saving light bulbs. Lighting equals about 8 percent of your electric bill, and compact fluorescent light bulbs and the newer light emitting diode or “LED” bulbs are great at saving you money. These bulbs help to keep your home cooler, too.
7. Invest in a programmable set-back thermostat. These smart thermostats, which can operate your heating and cooling systems according to your specific demands, can save you money all year round.
8. Install ceiling fans. Ceiling fans can help you feel cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, depending on their air flow. This means you can use your cooling and heating system less, which can save you money.
9. Lower your home’s need for air conditioning. Give your air conditioner a break by helping to reduce the time it needs to cool your home. Set the thermostat at 78 degrees or higher when the house is occupied, and at 85 degrees when no one’s home (you’ll save 1–2 percent on cooling costs for each degree you can raise your thermostat). And if its air filter hasn’t been cleaned in more than 30 days, it may be time to do so.
10. Check out your electric utility’s Web site. Electric utilities are by far the nation’s largest energy-efficiency promoters. Over the past three years alone, electric utility efficiency programs have saved enough electricity to power almost 21 million typical homes for one year.
For more information about saving money and energy during the hot summer months, check out EEI’s free booklet More Than 100 Ways to Improve Your Electric Bill.