As summer approaches things are starting to heat up here in Texas, and as temperatures rise, so do our electric bills. To help save you some of your hard-earned cash, we here at Interfaith have compiled 10 easy tips on how to reduce your energy consumption and lower your electric bill.
1. Turn up the thermostat. As cliché as this tip may be, turning up your thermostat is one of the number one ways to reduce energy consumption. It is recommended that residents keep their thermostat at 78 degrees while at home and 85 degrees or above when out of the house. If 78 degrees sounds simply unbearable, just know that according to the California Energy Commission you can save one to three percent for each degree the thermostat is set above 72 degrees.
2. Change the AC filter. Dirty air filters restrict air flow, which causes your unit to work harder to cool your home. Units vary in terms of how often filters should be changed. Check your system’s requirements and be sure and change you filter regularly.
3. Cover windows. Utilizing curtains and blinds, especially on the windows in your home that receive the most direct sunlight is a great way to keep your home cool and reduce the amount of work your AC unit has to do. After all, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 31% 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 of the year.
4. Reduce hot water usage. Over-consumption of hot water is the second-largest area where people consume the most energy. One way to cut back on the amount of hot water you use is to wash clothes in warm or cold water and to always rinse clothes in cold water. Also, using the dishwasher actually uses less water than washing dishes by hand. However, be sure and only use the dishwasher when it is fully loaded and turn off the dry cycle and air dry dishes instead.
5. Air dry clothing. Clothes dryers are highly inefficient and consume a significant amount of energy. Instead, try air drying clothing. The summer months are perfect for this because there is enough natural heat to do the job quickly (especially here in Texas). If you do decide to use your dryer, be sure and only dry full loads, clean out the lint trap after every use and use the moisture-sensing setting.
6. Make use of fans. Installing and utilizing ceiling fans helps circulate air in your home and can substantially reduce the need for full air-conditioning. If purchasing and installing ceiling fans is too expensive for your budget, standalone fans are another great option. Powerful fans can be purchased for as little as $20. Also, be sure and use your bathroom fan to remove the heat and humidity from when you take a shower. Additionally, depending on availability, during the summer months Interfaith provides box fans to low-income families.
7. Replace light bulbs. Lighting makes up about 10% of home electricity costs. By switching out your traditional light bulbs for CFLs or LEDs you can save up to 80% on energy. Additionally, only 10% of the energy from traditional bulbs is used for light – the rest is wasted on heat. CFLs and LEDs not only give off less heat, reducing your need for air conditioning, but these bulbs also last longer than traditional ones.
8. Turn off lights/unplug appliances. Many electronic devices use some bit of power, even when they are not in use. Therefore, turning off and unplugging lights, appliances, etc. when they are not in use is a great way to save on electricity.
9. Use the microwave or cook meals outside. Your microwave uses two-thirds less energy than your stove! This makes heating things like soup in the microwave a much more energy-efficient option. Grilling is also a great way to save on energy costs. Stoves emit heat and can raise the temperature in your home, which in turn increases the work your air conditioner must do and increases your electricity usage. Cooking outside keeps the heat outside where it belongs.
10. Fill up the fridge. This might sound like a strange tip, but keeping your refrigerator full keeps it from warming up too fast when the door is open. This helps ensure that it doesn't have to work quite as hard to keep cool.
As you can see, there are several simple and easy steps you can take to ensure that when it’s time to make your electric bill payment you’ll be keeping your cool in more ways than one.
However, if a financial crisis has left you unable to pay your utility bill, Interfaith Ministries assists families in Northern Denton County with their TXU and City of Denton electric bills.
All applicants will be screened for eligibility and must provide verification of household income and expenses. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call Interfaith Ministries of Denton, Inc. at (940) 565-5479.
Sources: consumerenergycenter.org and energy.gov.