Summer is under way, which means prettier weather and uglier energy bills. The winter and summer months feature the highest peaks for energy requirements, with the United States residential sector demand increasing by a whopping 67 billion kilowatt-hours, an increase of nearly 66% from fall and spring usage according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The heat is coming, but here are some of the best ways to help keep those bills down:
Shut the Shades: While admiring that summer sun, we often forget how unbearably hot it can make our homes. Rather than leaving your home feeling like a sauna, give the air conditioner a break and close all the shades. Energy Impact Illinois states that preventing sunlight from entering the windows will reduce the greenhouse heating effect and can help save up to 15% on energy costs used to cool your home.
Unplug It All: We all know there is at least one or two devices that get left plugged in all the time for whatever reason. However, unplugging the devices you are no longer using will gradually reduce your overall energy costs. The easiest way to accomplish this is to plug everything close together into a power strip and leave the strip unplugged until it is ready for use. Unplugging all unnecessary devices can help save up to 10% in monthly utilities according to the United States Department of Energy.
Fill the Gaps: With the air conditioners running on full blast it is important to make sure that the expensive cool air is actually staying inside your house. Often times, small gaps around windows, door crevasses, or even holes in air conditioner pipes and vents will cause the cold air to leak out and prevent your home from properly regulating the temperature. Be sure to check around your house and make sure everything is sealed up tight, as the United States Department of Energy states this can effectively reduce those summer bills by 20%.
Easy On the Oven: Nothing beats a fresh meal just out of the oven; however operating the oven can be extremely counter intuitive for your cost reduction plans. Studies have found that running the oven alone can increase your energy bill by as much as 16 cents per usage. Gas ovens are not innocent either, as all ovens radiate heat like a furnace which works against your air conditioner as it struggles to keep the house cool. A simple fix is to avoid having them on at the same time, perhaps by only cooking at night while its cooler and you can afford to give the air conditioner a rest. Of course, the best alternative is to forego the oven if possible and opt for some nice outside summer grilling instead.
LED Lighting: The bulbs themselves may be a bit more expensive than their incandescent counterparts, however, LED bulbs require only $32.85 in average operating energy costs per year compared to $328.59. In addition; LEDs release 80% less heat (highly favorable when trying to keep cool), produce nearly 50 times more lighting hours, and can effectively reduce your energy costs by 20% if all household bulbs are switched to LED.