All those handy dandy appliances in your home may help keep you cool, but they're also draining your bank account dry.
Sure, summertime means no more sweaters or heavy coats, but it does mean a rise in energy prices. Whether your home uses a window air conditioner, central air, or too many fans to count, you’re most likely hitting some energy high marks of the year. Those handy appliances might keep you and your family from feeling the heat, but you can’t say the same for your wallet.
Aside from the more obvious advice like not running your air conditioners more than you need to or turning the lights off when you leave a room, there are some other ways you can alleviate your energy use while saving some money this summer.
Rinkesh Kukreja, founder and editor of Conserve Energy Future, offered some great advice for anyone looking to reduce their energy footprint. Here are four of his major points to consider:
1. “Insulate your home for keeping cool air in and hot air out.”
For the summer, this advice means it’s time to fully utilize your curtains, blinds or other window shades. Keep them shut or partially closed to keep the hot sun out. This will help keep the cool air inside the home and help maintain that more comfortable temperature.
It’s also important to make sure your home is airtight. This is important year-round to keep the home at the optimal temperature for the season.
Energuide has a variety of simple suggestions for keeping the cool air cool as well as circulating fresh air whenever possible:
- Fit protective films to your windows. They will filter the UV rays and reduce the effect of the sun in living rooms but still let the light in.
- Have your roof insulated, especially if you have bedrooms under the eaves.
- Properly insulated walls will protect you against the heat as well as against the cold.
- Keep your windows closed when it’s hot.
- Do not do any cooking in the oven and stick to cold dishes.
- Letting cool air in at night and create draughts to ensure that the cool air circulates around the house.
- Use a ceiling fan to stir up the hot air that has gathered overhead; this will eliminate some of the humidity created due to condensation and sweat.
- Use standing fans, without remaining directly in the draught, so that you don’t catch a cold!
- If you are drying washing, place a fan behind the dryer. Your clothes will be ready more quickly and you will benefit from the coolness of the humidity given off.
2. “Install a programmable or smart thermostat.”
Unlike older thermostats, newer models are better equipped to best serve your family’s temperature needs. The thermostat can change temperatures depending on conditions such as whether anyone is home and the cooler nighttime temperatures. Plus some smart thermostats can even track your energy use for you!
Family Handy Man recommends smart thermostats for significant energy savings over the course of a year. “A smart thermostat is accurate and informative,” according to Family Handy Man. “Using the manual and the energy saving tips that smart thermostats provide, you can create a schedule with the correct temperature zones to save you money on energy bills.
“The Nest Thermostat predicts you will save 10-12 percent on heating costs and 15 percent on cooling costs. Ecobee says you’ll save around 23 percent on both heating and cooling. Other smart thermostats have similar projections.”
3. “Use smart power strips to cut off the power when electronic gadgets are not in use.”
Certain electronics like computers and televisions are not only energy vampires (meaning that they use electricity even when not in use), but they also create undue heat even in small increments, which can be discomforting in the sweltering summer months.
Energuide calls chargers “unnecessary heat sources” and suggests switching them off when not in use.
“Chargers, even when they are not charging, devices on stand-by and computers all give off a fair amount of heat—unplug anything that could be an unwanted heat source,” according to Energuide.
Powerstrips can make switching off unused electronics even easier than unplugging them. A switch of a button puts even the trickiest of energy vampires to bed until they’re of use again.
4. “Purchase energy efficient appliance[s].”
According to Consumer Reports, new appliances are saving homeowners money! This isn’t much of a surprise, but it is a benefit to forking over the cash for a new washing machine or refrigerator. Not only are you being greener, but you are also being kinder to your wallet over time.
Consumer Reports states that appliances account for just shy of 10 percent of household energy use with dryers and refrigerators as the top energy-using contenders from the appliance family. And, according to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, American families have saved approximately $500 per year since the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987.
Energy Star-labeled appliances are partially to thank for some of the money and environment saving. Appliances that include energy efficiency marks aren’t just squeezing by either. They’re saving significant energy usage.
New Energy Star washing machines use 25% less energy and about 70 to 75% less water than agitator washers did 20 years ago, according to Energy Star as cited by Consumer Reports.
Energy Star appliances can save a family upwards of $100 a year in energy costs.
What will you do with your savings?
If you’re saving money this summer, you should be putting it to good use. For folks living paycheck to paycheck, that should mean building up an emergency fund.
Going green to save money is great, but there are so many parts of your day-to-day life where you could be squeezing out some extra savings as well!
Rinkesh Kukreja is the founder & editor of the blog Conserve Energy Future which receives more than 2 million page views every month. He has written several articles on his blog and is often looking for new and innovative ways to reduce energy consumption.
Amanda Finn is a freelance writer based in Chicago. She largely writes about lifestyle and travel with a focus on making the most out of life and all it has to offer (without going over budget). When she isn’t writing, she’s spending quality time with her husband Kyle, her puggle Puggsley, and her two bunnies.
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