The outside temperature isn’t the only thing that increases in the summer. You might have noticed a spike in your energy bill, too.
Using more energy in the summer stresses your wallet and puts a strain on the environment, as more greenhouse gases are emitted when people use electricity and non-renewable sources of energy.
Try these five money-saving tips to cut back on energy use at home:
Block Out the Sun
In the winter, the sun shining through the windows of your home is a welcome sight. The reverse is true in the summer. Light and heat from the sun increases the temperature in your home. If you are running the a/c and the sun is shining directly in, your air conditioning unit will have to work harder to cool the room.
Hang blinds in your windows to keep the sun out during the day. Choose blinds that are opaque, as sheer or semi-sheer window shades will allow light to seep into the house.
Summertime means longer daylight hours. Take advantage of the extended day by turning off the lights in your house, unless absolutely needed. Even shaded windows provide enough light to perform most household tasks.
Swap the light bulbs in your house for eco-friendly ones, if you have not done so already. Incandescent bulbs use a lot more energy than compact fluorescent bulbs. Traditional incandescent bulbs also produce more heat when they are on, counteracting the effects of air conditioning and other cooling methods.
Adjust Your Cooking
There’s no better way to heat up a house in the summer than to use the oven. Save baking for the evening hours, when the air is cooler outside. Another way to bake without heating up the entire house is to use a toaster oven. This smaller appliance also uses considerably less power than a standard oven.
Try using the microwave to prepare foods you would normally cook on the stove. According the California Energy Commission, a microwave uses two-thirds of the energy that the average stove uses. Also utilize your microwave to steam vegetables and cook basic foods such as bacon and eggs.
Schedule Appliance Use
Wait until nighttime to run major appliances such as your dishwasher or clothes dryer. Energy costs less at night, since fewer people are using it. The air is usually cooler at night, so your air conditioner doesn’t need to work as hard to cool the air and remove the humidity created by running appliances.
Choose the dishwasher over hand-washing, as it uses less water and less energy to heat the water. Use cool water to launder clothing. Hang clothing out to dry, rather than use a gas- or electric-powered dryer.
Use Only What You Need
There’s no need to cool your entire house if you are only using one or two rooms. If you have central air, close vents in the rooms you are not currently using. If you use window or portable units, only turn the air on in the room you are in. The same holds true for lights. Remember to turn off and unplug appliances, such as computers and televisions, when you are not using them.
A few small changes to your habits can lead to a drastic drop in the amount of energy you use. Reduced energy consumption translates to savings, and a reduced impact on the planet.
Lakisha spends most of her time writing about the auto industry. On the side she volunteers at the local elementary school.