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Learn how to save energy this summer so you can get out and enjoy the sunshine

The beautiful, warm sunny days of summer are hard to beat. It’s the perfect time of year to get outside and enjoy the fresh air or head to the pool for a swim. And when it’s time to head back indoors to cool off, you’ll want to make sure that your home is as relaxing and comfortable as possible.

This usually means turning on your air conditioner. But running the A/C all day can increase your overall electricity costs. So how can you stay comfortable without spending a lot of money? We have a few ideas for you - and all are cheap, if not free!

7 Ways to Save Energy This Summer

1. Adjust Your Thermostat Settings

When it’s hot outside, your first reaction may be to make it as cool as possible inside. While having a chill in the air feels nice when you walk through the front door, your air conditioner is having to work overtime to keep the temperature down. When the first electric bill of the summer is delivered, you’ll be in for quite a shock!

To keep your costs down, and your air conditioning running efficiently, you’ll want to keep the difference between the outside and indoor temperatures as close as possible. This way your A/C doesn’t have to work too hard to make up the difference in temperature that you want.

The ideal thermostat temperature for most climates would be in the mid to high 70s and the U.S. Department of Energy recommends a setting of 78 degrees. While this is still warm, it will be much more comfortable than the hotter air outside. Additionally, when you are not at home, you can turn the A/C completely off, or set it to a higher temperature. This way it doesn’t have to work while you are gone and use up even more electricity.  

2. Use Fans for Additional Ventilation

With your air conditioner adjusted, you can further cool your home using fans. Depending on the type of fan you have, they can make it feel up to 4 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature in your home. So, if you’re thermostat is set to 78, you can make it feel like 74 by turning on a fan.

A floor or ceiling fan is also much more energy efficient than an A/C unit and is a great way to add a little extra comfort to your home.

When using fans though, remember to turn them off when you leave the room. They work by creating a wind chill effect and don’t actually lower the temperature. So if you are not in the room to use it, save energy by keeping it off until you return.

3. Install Efficient and Cool Lighting

Older incandescent bulbs are not as efficient as newer LED or low energy alternatives and over the long term can cost more to use. This is because most of their energy is lost as heat which, besides using more electricity, means the area around the lights will be warmer. If you have inefficient bulbs in your whole home, and keep them all on in the evenings, they can prevent your home from properly cooling down.

The upfront costs of LED or energy efficient bulbs may be a bit higher than a regular incandescent bulb, but the older bulbs typically have shorter lifespans, so they’ll need to be replaced more often. Over time, between the lower energy costs and longer lifespan, you’ll end up saving money with the upgraded bulbs.

4. Avoid Using Hot Appliances

Using any appliance that creates heat makes your air conditioner work even harder in the summer. While you’ll still need to use your oven to cook and your dryer to do laundry, if you stick to using them in the evenings or sparingly, it will help with overall costs and keeping heat to a minimum.

For laundry, you can also try to run larger loads. This way you can get your clothes cleaned and dry in one load, rather than a few smaller ones throughout the week that all produce similar amounts of heat. The extra time for a larger load is also more energy efficient than two or more loads of smaller sizes, but similar durations.

5. Open Your Windows at Night

If you live in a state that gets cooler in the evening, and the air stays dry, opening your windows in the evening can help immensely. You won’t have to run your A/C throughout the night and the fresh air will feel better than the artificially chilled air.

In a humid place like Florida this probably won’t work though, since the air is humid and your air conditioner will have to work to remove that humidity when you turn it back on.

6. Shade the Inside of Your Home with Blinds

Leaving your blinds open or windows uncovered throughout the day can let in a lot of unwanted heat. By simply closing your blinds, you can block the sunlight from coming in and elevating the temperature indoors.

If you are still having trouble with heat coming in, you can replace your blinds with something that blocks the light a little better. Some companies even make solar blinds with UV protection, but a medium colored drape with a plastic backing has been shown to reduce heat gain by 33% and is a low cost option.

On the exterior of your home you can also add awnings to provide some shade over the windows. Or, plants and trees placed nearby can also add natural shade for your home.

7. Take cooler showers

In the summer you probably won’t want to take hot showers anyways, but if the water is too hot it creates excessive amounts of steam. Besides the heat that is now in the air, your air conditioner also has to work to remove that moisture so it can properly cool the air. By dropping the temperature of the water a few degrees, your water heater won’t have to use as much energy to heat the water and your A/C won’t have to work as hard to remove the heat.

You can also lower the maximum temperature of your water heater to save energy throughout the year. If it doesn’t have to work as hard to heat the water, it can use less electricity. This will also prevent scalding from water that is too hot.

Keeping your Home Cool Without Spending a Ton

With these tips you can keep your home comfortable and cool without spending a lot of money on a higher electric bill every month. Summers will be more enjoyable and you’ll have a little extra cash in your pocket!

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