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Want some professional advice on how to lower your energy bill this summer and give your wallet a break? Here in the Tennessee Valley, our biggest energy bills usually come during the long, hot summers. We’ll be taking a look at a variety of ways you can lower those bills, starting today with some simple tips on decreasing the amount of heat you let into or create in your home.
Use Your Windows Wisely
While new energy-efficient windows can make a big difference in your energy bills, they’re also a big investment. A less expensive way to keep cool is to use shades or blinds that are a reflective white on the outside. These are especially important on the east- and west-facing windows of your home, because those are the ones that let in the most heat. On the other hand, opening the shades or blinds on north-facing windows can help you save energy on lighting, while not letting in a significant amount of heat.
Let Off Some Steam
Taking a hot shower or boiling water on the stove can create a whole lot of steam, which will make your home even hotter and more humid. Use bathroom and kitchen fans to draw that steam out of your home. Ideally, these fans should vent outside, not into your attic. If you’re not sure where they’re venting, you may want to have that checked.
Grill, Don’t Bake
Another heat-producing culprit in your kitchen is the oven. That’s why baking is a great way to make your home warm and cozy in the winter. During the summer, avoid using the oven, especially on very hot days. Use the stove or microwave instead, or grill outside, with the grill situated at a safe distance from your home to prevent harmful carbon monoxide gas from getting inside.
See Also: Keeping Your Energy Bill Down in Winter
Dry It On the Line
Not only does your clothes dryer use a lot of electricity, it also warms your home, forcing your air conditioner to work harder. So a simple clothesline in your backyard can make a big difference in your summer energy bills. Plus, your laundry will have that fresh, dried-on-the-line smell you remember from grandma’s house!
Take Advantage of Cool Nights
During less humid periods of the spring and summer, nighttime temperatures sometimes dip down into the 60s or below. On those cooler nights, opening windows after dark can let cool air come inside. Just be sure to close those windows shortly after dawn in the morning so you can trap the cool air and not let warm air in.
See Also: Staying Cool During Power Outages
Be Smart with Your Ceiling Fan
The “wind chill” effect created by a ceiling fan can make a room feel four to eight degrees cooler. Make sure that your ceiling fan is switched to the correct summer setting—it should be turning counter-clockwise and you should feel a breeze blowing downward when you stand underneath it. Also, be sure to turn off the ceiling fan when you leave the room. If there’s nobody around to feel the “wind chill,” then a running fan is just wasting energy.
Dry the Air
The higher the humidity, the warmer you feel at any given temperature. So if you can decrease the humidity in your home, you can set the thermostat at a higher temperature and still be comfortable. You can dehumidify small spaces with portable one-room dehumidifiers, or you can get a whole-house dehumidifier that works with your HVAC system to keep your entire home’s humidity at an ideal level. This will also help prevent organic growth and damage to wood furniture and flooring that can occur if the indoor humidity is over 50%.
See Also: Dehumidifier
Every Degree Counts
It’s pretty easy to understand that increasing the temperature setting of your thermostat will decrease how much your air conditioner has to run. But you may think that you’d have to change the temperature by five degrees or more to make a noticeable difference. That is not necessarily the case.
In fact, according to the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration News, a one-degree increase in the temperature setting can save you an average of 10% on your cooling costs! (The exact amount varies depending on a few factors, including how big the difference is between the outside temperature and your desired temperature.) For example, ACHR News estimated that, for an average home in Atlanta, changing the summer thermostat setting from 72 to 75 degrees would decrease the amount of energy used for cooling by 34%.
See Also: How To Save Energy While You’re Away on Vacation
Every Hour Counts, Too
Not only can small temperature changes make a big difference in energy use, they can have an impact even if you only change the temperature for a few hours a day. That’s what’s known as a thermostat “setback.” For instance, in the summer many people choose to set back their thermostat during the day while they’re at work. According to the US Department of Energy, if you lower your thermostat up 7-10 degrees for just eight hours a day during the summer will save you 10% on your cooling energy bill.
See Also: Spring Energy Saving Tips
A smart thermostat, that is. You can automate your setback schedule using a smart thermostat, like an ecobee or Nest. It’ll save you from forgetting to turn up the thermostat before you leave for work in the morning, and it can even begin cooling your house back down to your preferred evening setting before you get home. Plus, most smart thermostats can be controlled remotely using an app on your smartphone. So if you decide to come home early or work late, you can adjust your thermostat to maximize both your comfort and savings.