How to save on utilities in summer
We’re all looking for ways to cut costs anywhere it’s convenient, and consumption of energy in our homes is a great place to look for energy- and cash-saving strategies.
As temperatures begin to rise, so does our energy consumption, which leads to higher utility bills as our air conditioning system becomes a refuge from soaring temps and as we begin doing more hiking and swimming, which can lead to more showers. The results can be costly.
Here are tips to save energy and money this summer while staying cool, comfortable and enjoying the summer activities you love.
Use fans instead of air conditioning
Fans are a small investment that can save you a lot over time. While an air conditioner is a surefire way to cool down your space, a fan uses about 1/60th of the energy and can drastically cut down your bill.
Fans don’t actually cool the air, but rather circulate it, which makes a room feel several degrees cooler by banishing stagnant heat. You can use a fan in combination with your AC to turn your thermostat up and still keep your space cool.
Your best bet for keeping a large space cool using fans is a ceiling fan, which provides powerful cooling to your most-used living spaces without monopolizing floor space. Alternatively, consider a window fan to pump cool air in and hot air out of your space, or even an oscillating tower fan for a portable cooling solution.
Spend time outside
Much of the energy used during the summer comes from time spent in the house with the lights on, AC cranked and devices plugged in and in use. Give your utilities a break by spending one or two nights (or more) a week cooking on the grill, lounging by the pool, walking in the park or sipping drinks in your own backyard. Remember that any time you spend outside and unplugged, however brief, translates to money saved.
Open your windows to keep cool at night
Take advantage of the physics of temperature flow and save cash by turning off your AC at night and opening up the windows.
During the day when it’s typically hotter outside, keeping your windows and blinds closed is the best way to keep cool air in and hot air out. At night, however, the temperature outside drops and is likely cooler than your home’s internal temperature. Use this to your benefit by cutting off the AC and cooling your home for free at night by opening the windows. Just don’t forget to close them back up when you wake up in the morning.
Swap your incandescent bulbs for LEDs
Incandescent bulbs make rooms hotter by converting the energy they use into heat. LEDs such as Philips LED bulbs create electricity savings by using up to 80% less energy and producing about half as much heat.
Devices which aren’t in use but are still plugged in could be sucking up energy. Unplug chargers, lamps, computers, TVs and other electronics when you’re not using them to reduce your consumption.
Smart power strips are a clever way to decrease your utility bill because they detect when devices are using energy in standby mode and cut their power off to save energy. Try the Kasa Smart Plug Power Strip for its versatility, multiple outlets (including USBs) and high reviews.
Use less hot water
Water usage tends to increase in the summer months as we begin watering our gardens and enjoying other outdoor activities, like hiking, which leads to more showers. You can cut down on your water usage while still enjoying your typical summer activities in a number of ways.
If you’re watering your plants in the middle of the day when the sun is highest in the sky, much of the water you’re spraying on your plants is evaporating before it has a chance to reach their roots.
To prevent wasted water, try watering your plants early in the morning or late in the evening. If that doesn’t work for your schedule, you can also utilize a timer for your garden sprinkler to be sure you’re watering your plants at the optimal time of day without having to get out of bed at the break of dawn.
Invest in low-flow water fixtures
Heating water accounts for up to 20% of an average power bill. Much of the hot water we use is used for showering. A low-flow showerhead cuts the amount of water you use, so you can continue taking long showers without the guilt or the high energy bill.
Another low water use fixture you can consider is a high-efficiency toilet, which uses less water when flushing to cut down your energy bill in a way you’ll never miss.
Wash your clothes in cold water
Your washing machine consumes the most energy heating up water. An easy cost-saving fix is to simply wash your clothes in cold water. Not only does it save you a lot of money on utilities — up to $200 a year — it also extends the life of your clothing.
Other ways to cut laundry costs include maximizing your load size so that you’re doing laundry less often and hanging up your clothes to dry on a drying rack rather than in the dryer.
How to save money on utilities in the summer
Google Nest Learning Thermostat, Third Generation
What you need to know: Smart thermostats prevent mistakenly blasting your AC when you aren’t home by automatically going into “away” mode when you depart. They also offer energy usage reports to give you tips on where you can cut costs.
What you’ll love: Renowned for user-friendliness, an array of features and range of device compatibility. Adapts to your schedule.
What you should consider: A sizable initial investment, but pays off in energy savings.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Kohl’s
Sun Zero Cameron Thermal Insulated Blackout Curtain Panel
What you need to know: A high-quality blackout panel recommended for superior heat and light blocking.
What you’ll love: Extreme blackout ideal for blocking out all light. Aesthetically pleasing metal grommets. Available in a variety of colors.
What you should consider: These blackout curtains are sold in individual panels, so you’ll likely want to order two to complete the window treatment. Also be sure to purchase hanging hardware.
Where to buy: Sold by Kohl’s
Flash Furniture Nantucket 6-Piece Patio Garden Set with Umbrella
What you need to know: Stay cool this summer by having dinner outside on your patio. This set includes an umbrella to keep you shaded and brings functionality and ease to household meals, cookouts and casual drinks.
What you’ll love: Lightweight, compact and easy to transport. An all-in-one set with a table, chairs and an umbrella makes it easy to get set up for patio meals right away.
What you should consider: The base of the chairs is made of a lightweight material to avoid the dreaded metal seat burn, but these seats, unfortunately, won’t have as long a lifespan as a seat made from a more durable material.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Evelyn Waugh is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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