Heating and cooling your home makes up the largest portion of your electric bill each month. Water-heating and lighting are the next two energy expenses. These categories alone can make up more than 60% of your electricity usage. Any serious attempt at saving energy must start with these items.
There are many other ways you can cut your energy use and save money, but we will cover the big ones here. Since summer is fast approaching we will be focusing on cooling costs in this article as well as ways you can save money on lighting costs.
Cooling Your Home While Saving Energy
Central air conditioning is a great comfort in the hot summer months. However, there are plenty of ways you can reduce your usage of a central AC unit and save money without sacrificing comfort.
The first and foremost way to save money is simply to run your AC unit less. Ceiling fans are a great way to make your home feel cooler while raising the temperature on the thermostat. A central AC unit uses about 46 times as much energy as a ceiling fan. Installing a ceiling fan can save you money in both the winter and the summer. For more information on saving money with a ceiling fan see our article here.
Consider installing drapes or reflective window film to block out solar heat. Solar heat can increase the temperature in your rooms by as much as 10 to 20 degrees. Your AC unit would then have to work harder to remove that heat.
Having adequate insulation in your attic can result in serious savings in both the summer and winter. You should have at least 8 inches of insulation in your attic. Cellulose insulation is preferable.
Aside from running your AC less you can also save money by replacing or cleaning the filters. Dirty filters cause your AC unit to work harder to produce the same amount of cooling. On those hot, sunny days your AC condenser can get hot due to the sun which then requires more energy to produce cool air. Plants shade trees near your AC condenser can reduce the unit’s electricity cost by as much as 10%.
Saving Money On Your Lighting
The first thing that pops into most people’s minds when they want to save money on lighting is to switch the bulbs in their home to CFLs or LEDs. Incandescent bulbs are really small heaters that produce a small amount of light. About 90% of the energy used by an incandescent goes to producing heat while only 10% produces light. This is heat your AC unit must then remove.
With prices falling on both CFLs and LEDs, this can be a great option to light your home and save money. Make sure you get CFL bulbs that are Energy Star certified. LEDs can pay for them selves in only a few years and last for up to 20 years. To help decide between CFL bulbs or LEDs, read our comparison here.
Turning lights off when you leave a room is a good idea. That is unless you are using CFLs. Turning CFL bulbs on and off shortens their lifespan and will cost you more money in the long term. If you are using CFL bulbs, you should only turn the lights off if you will be out of the room for more than 15 minutes. LEDs do not have the same limitation.
Installing dimmers can save you money if you do not require the full brightness of a light bulb all the time. Motion sensors are another great way to save money on your lighting. Motion sensing controls can turn the light on when you enter a room or off when you leave. Motion sensors are great if you have kids that tend to forget about turning the lights off. There are also timed switches for room such as your bathroom that will not be used for a long period of time.
Utilizing natural light is another way you can cut your electric bill. Using a skylight or windows to light your home instead of light bulbs can save you plenty of money. Make sure you install reflective solar film so the windows do not let in heat.
What about outside your home? Many people like to use lights for security and to light paths they use frequently. For outdoor lights, you should consider motion sensing lights, LED lights or solar lights. Solar lights would be the best since they don’t add any cost to your electric bill and don’t require any wiring.
Have any tips for saving energy in the summer? Have questions about which light fixtures you should use to save the most money? Leave a comment or give us a call.