How To Lower Your Electric Bill This Summer With These 11 Easy Hacks
Summertime, and the living's easy — unless you're roasting hot inside your home, in which case the living is a little bit less easy. It's the only real drawback to the summer months, especially when it feels like a constant battle to keep your spot cool without blowing your whole paycheck on utilities. If you're wondering how to lower your electric bill in the summer, you'll probably be happy to know that there are plenty of easy hacks to save you the big bucks, according to energy efficiency experts.
An EPA spokesperson pointed out that the average household spends $2,000 a year on energy bills. "Almost half of the average household energy bill goes to heating/cooling," they write in an email to Bustle. "That's more than $900 a year." And given that this summer has been one of the hottest summers on record, it's safe to say that energy bills across America aren't exactly plummeting.
Thankfully, according to David Gomez, the CEO and Founder of Clean Energy Solutions, an energy consulting firm that specializes in finding solutions for energy efficiency and renewable energy, there are several steps you can take to lower your energy bill this summer. "The majority of things you can do to make your property energy efficient does come with homeownership, more or less," Gomez explains to Bustle. Regardless, he notes that it's still totally possible to cut your energy bill if you currently rent.
But if you do own your home, the biggest thing you can do is go solar. "Obviously, solar is a huge thing in terms of reducing your bill," Gomez says. And for those who are worried about the expense and effort of purchasing and then installing solar panels, there's good news: there are a number of affordable ways to go solar.
Of course, solar might not be an option for everyone, at least not yet. And besides, there are plenty of other small hacks to know, regardless of whether you're in your forever home or subletting for the summer. Here are some quick ways to lower your energy bill for the rest of the summer:
Put A Bowl Of Ice In Front Of A Fan
Lifestyle expert Erica Katz told Inside Edition that if your air conditioner breaks, you can always try putting a bowl of ice in front of a fan to cool down instead. And even if your air conditioner does work, that setup could stop you from having to crank it up higher.
Block The Sunlight
In an email to Bustle, Mike Gulla, Senior Director of Underwriting and Customer Support at Hippo Insurance, provided a few ways to keep your place cool in the summer months. "To keep cool during hot and sticky summer days, tenants should take advantage of non-permanent items including oscillating fans or box fans, removable window tint, and temporary room darkening blinds," he suggests.
These are especially helpful options for anyone who's renting their space and can't make permanent changes to the windows or air conditioning units. And if you don't have special darkening blinds, you can always try to keep the blinds you do have shut more often, Hippo Insurance's blog notes.
Ask Your Energy Company About An Energy Audit
Your utility provider might offer an energy audit for free, and it's definitely worth looking into. This audit is basically an analysis of how the energy flow works in your building, and could let you know the specific ways in which you could conserve energy better in the future.
For example, it could tell you if one particular window is causing a draft and letting all of your cold air out. "Thicker windows can keep 96% of heat from coming through," Gomez says.
Open Your Windows At Night
Sometimes the greatest solutions are the simplest ones to begin with. Consider keeping your windows shut during the day and opening them each night, to let the cool air come in.
If you work at home and love that cool air, Gomez suggests you keep your air conditioner working at the coldest temperature during the hottest part of the day. Then, as it gets colder, turn the temperature up a little bit, so that by the time you open your windows before you go to bed, you're not letting frigid air out into the night. "As it gets cooler in the evening, you don’t need your AC as much," Gomez says. "And by the time you open your windows you’re not using A.C. anymore."
Fill Your Home With Greenery
This one is a total win for any plant lovers out there. Planting trees and other forms of greenery around your home is a great way to keep your home cooler, for a pretty obvious reason: it provides shade, which decreases the temperature. And if you live in an apartment, Gomez says it's still worth putting greenery around your window. Here's a list of some of the plants that work best at keeping your place at a cooler temperature.
Whether it's keeping your ceiling fan on or setting up a few fans around your home, airflow can make the atmosphere feel a little less sticky. And having one aimed toward you while you're sleeping is especially helpful when it comes to getting a good night's rest without turning up the air conditioner.
It's worth noting, however, that you shouldn't open any windows during the day if you have the air conditioning on. Instead, you want to do as much as you can to keep the cold air sealed inside, at least until the sun goes down and the temperature drops.
Check Your AC Filters Regularly
You probably don't spend much time considering what the state of your air conditioner filter is on a daily basis. That's pretty understandable — but swapping out your A.C. filter regularly will help air move more easily and will lower the cost of your bill, Gomez says.
Consider Your Weekly Laundry Usage
Laundry machines are a huge suck on energy, according to IGS Energy, a supplier of commercial and residential natural gas and electricity. The annual cost of using a washing machine and dryer regularly is about $115.
One easy way to lower this cost is to use the cold water cycle on your washing machine: IGS Energy reports that 17% of the average household's energy bill is the result of the energy needed to heat water. And yes, that means the occasional cold shower is also a good idea.
Buy An Energy Efficient Air Conditioner
Gomez notes that air filters can help, but they won't take you all the way towards decreasing energy costs. "You can replace the air filter, but if it’s not an energy efficient air conditioner, it won't do as much," he says. "Upgrading to energy efficient products and materials, like [an] air conditioner, can lead up to 40% reduction on [energy bills] on average."
Similarly, Gulla suggests installing a smart thermostat that can "help regulate room temperature so that you can cool your place down before you arrive home."
These aren't necessarily super easy hacks, but they could still be worth it if you own a house.
Swap Out Your Lightbulbs
This seems simple, but it can actually save you up to $75 a year, according to NerdWallet. If you swap our your regular lightbulbs with LED or compact fluorescent lightbulbs, they'll last much longer. Just look for the Energy Star label when you're shopping.
An EPA spokesperson explains why in an email, writing,
By replacing your home's five most frequently used light fixtures or the bulbs in them with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR, you can save about $45 each year. ENERGY STAR certified LED bulbs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs, last 15 times longer, and save more than $55 in electricity bills over their lifetime.
Get Rid Of "Phantom Loads"
Yes, a "phantom load" is a real thing — and it can totally eat into your energy bill. According to The Spruce, a lifestyle network and website, 75% of the energy used by electronics (like your laptop, or your television) comes after they've been turned off. Specifically, when they're turned off and still plugged into an outlet. Luckily, there's an easy solve for this: attach your plugs to a power strip, and start turning off those power strips every night before you go to bed.
In general, the less "plugged in" you are, the lower your energy bill will be. But Gulla points out that money isn't the only reason to watch your electric bill. "While cost savings is a big reason to implement these measures into your home, you’ll also use less energy which benefits the environment," he writes in an email.
It might not cut your bill in half, but these tips can help your wallet — and the environment — in the long run. And really, there's nothing better than an excuse to buy a plant, turn your phone off, and read a book.