As the summer heat starts rolling in, it is not unexpected to see your utility bills skyrocket, especially when you crank up the air conditioner. But air conditioning is not the only culprit. There are other appliances around the building that are contributing to the increases seen on the utility bill.
The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that 31 percent of all energy costs in the home are devoted to keeping the living space at a comfortable temperature, especially during the hottest and coldest months. For many people, summer is a big energy drain because of the need to cool the home to a comfortable level. However, there are are several ways you can manage your utility bill this summer and save in both energy and costs:
1.Cut Down on Water Usage
Hot water usage is the second largest area of energy use, and should be addressed at the root of the problem by reducing the amount of water released. By replacing any inefficient faucets or shower heads with water-saving showerheads, you will not only be reducing your energy bill by cutting back on electricity or gas usage, but you will also be cutting back on water usage as a whole.
Regular shower heads use 2.5 gallons of water a minute, but the efficient ones use only 1.5 gallons. Beyond reducing your hot water usage, you can also turn back the heater’s thermostat a few degrees to make your furnace run less.
2.Replace the AC Filter
When air filters run anywhere between $10-$20 each, you probably ask yourself why you need to change them so often. Most HVAC professionals will tell you to change them at least once every 3 months, or 4 times per year, which adds up to anywhere between $40 and $80 per year, per filter needed for your house.
However, according to the Department of Energy, replacing a dirty filter with a clean one can reduce energy consumption up to 15 percent. Your HVAC is responsible for approximately half of your energy bill, so by replacing the filter, you could be looking at savings of 7.5 percent every month.
3.Go ENERGY STAR
Appliances, especially the older ones, drain quite a bit of energy. An easy way to check the energy efficiency of your appliances is to look for the ENERGY STAR certification. For appliances to be Energy Certified, they must meet strict energy efficiency criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the U.S. Department of Energy. Since they use less energy, these products save you money on your electricity bill and help protect the environment by causing fewer harmful emissions from power plants. And you get the features and quality you expect.
According to advice from EnergyStar.gov, for example, swapping out your old incandescent light bulbs for a “compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) will save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.”
4. Consider a “Smart” Upgrade
According to Energy Star,“if everyone used a smart thermostat, we would save 56 trillion BTUs of energy and offset 13 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year, equivalent to the emissions of 1.2 million vehicles.”
So how does such a small device offer such promising claims? Smart thermostats can regulate heating and cooling when you’re not home to save energy and money. Plus, you can adjust the settings remotely using an app on your phone. Some even work with Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, Apple HomeKit, Wink, Google Home and other smart home platforms.
Additionally, the smart technology monitors and tracks home energy use so that you can view details like the amount of time your HVAC system has been in operation, climate information that may influence your energy usage, and personalized recommendations for increasing energy efficiency via online portals or mobile apps. Once you understand where your energy is going, it’ll be easier to find ways to cut back. Some of the more popular smart thermostat brands in the market include Nest, Ecobee, Lyric, and Lux.
5. Kill Your “Vampire Power” Drains
With many of our consumer electronic products plugged into electrical sockets, an average of 40 items per household connected at any one time – they’re constantly “sucking” electricity, even when not in use.
In fact, according to a study of Northern California by the Natural Resources Defense Council, about a quarter of all residential energy consumption is used on devices in idle power mode. That means that devices that are “off” or in standby or sleep mode can use up to the equivalent of 50 large power plants’ worth of electricity and cost more than $19 billion in electricity bills every year. And there’s an environmental cost.
Overall electricity production represents about 37 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, one of the main contributors to climate change. But there are several ways to fight back against “vampire power,” also referred to as “phantom power” or “standby power,” some of which include installing a smart thermostat or unplugging appliances not often used. One of the easiest way to curtail energy drains is to use a power strip for group appliances so that you can turn it off at the same time.
Keeping comfortable this summer does not have to cost you a leg and an arm. Whether you decide to try one of these tips this summer or decide to implement all five strategies, you can easily cut down on your utility bills this summer along with efficiently managing energy usage.