8 Ways to Save Money on Your Electric Bill
Summer is here and things are heating up in Houston! The temperature probably isn’t the only thing going up—chances are, your electric bill is too. While it’s impossible to prevent your energy bill from increasing at all in the summer, there are many simple steps you can take to keep from spending more than you need to on electricity each month.
Keep Air Vents Open
It’s a common myth that keeping your air vents closed for certain rooms will reduce the energy usage of your AC unit. The theory behind this is that closing certain air vents closes those rooms off from needing to be cooled or heated. However, the opposite is true. If your air vents are closed, the AC unit will have to struggle extra hard to cool the entire home to the temperature the thermostat is set on. So, even if you think all your air vents are open, do a quick check just in case. It could be that they were closed at some point by someone else, and it’s a quick and easy step to make sure all air vents are in the “open” position.
Replace Air Filters Often
This is another easy step towards maximizing the energy efficiency of your AC unit. If air filters become clogged with dust and debris, it prevents optimal air flow and makes your HVAC unit work harder than necessary. Replace air filters as recommended by the manufacturer, usually, once a month is ideal. Buy air filters in bulk and keep them stored, that way you’re prepared for convenient replacement. You can set a recurring “reminder” notification on your smartphone or computer to remind you to replace filters regularly.
Use Fans to Cool Down and Optimize Air-Flow
Before you give into the impulse to crank your AC temperature down, there’s another step you can try that will be more energy efficient. Heat rises upward, so in the summer, you can keep your home cooler by helping the heat to rise up and into the attic. The best way to do this is by using fans. Fans use less energy to run than an AC unit, so they’re a very cost-effective way to maximize the cooling of your home.
Standing or box fans are a great option—they’ll keep the air in the room circulating which helps maintain a steady temperature. Ceiling fans are ideal for helping direct air where you want it to go. There should be a switch on your ceiling fan to change the direction of its cycle; if you’re not sure where, consult its manual. In the summer, make sure the fan is set to run counter-clockwise. This will help push hot air up and out of the home. In the winter, the opposite is true—you’ll want the fan to run clockwise to keep the heat down in the room.
Keep Your Home Insulated
One of the best ways to save money on your electric bill in the summer is to keep hot air out and cold air in as much as possible. This reduces the amount of work your AC needs to do to keep you comfortable, which will reduce your energy bill and also improve the longevity of your HVAC unit. To maximize insulation, keep doors and windows closed as much as possible. Keeping blinds and shades closed will also prevent sunlight from heating the air inside. When certain rooms aren’t being used, keep internal doors closed to help those rooms stay more insulated.
If these simple steps towards insulation don’t seem to be effective enough in keeping your home cool, you may need to look into other factors that may be affecting your home’s ability to retain cool air. One option is replacing the insulation in your attic and walls, especially the insulation surrounding your HVAC ductwork. When this insulation gets worn out, it allows cool air to seep through the ductwork into the attic before it reaches the vents to cool your home. Another option is to consider new, energy efficient windows, or resealing your current windows.
Rethink Your Laundry Routine
Besides HVAC units, laundry machines are another appliance that uses a large amount of electricity to run. There are several simple steps you can take to reduce the amount of energy it takes to do laundry. For starters, run your washing machine on “cold” cycles only. According to LG Electronics, “heating the water in the wash drum accounts for about 90% of the energy your machine uses.” Let the cold cycle be your default setting unless you need a “hot” cycle here or there for tough stain removal.
Another tip is not to overload your dryer. If your drier is stuffed to the max, there won’t be enough room for airflow or movement for the clothes to dry easily. This will cause your dryer to run longer and work harder than it needs to. Try to always leave about 25% of the drier open, only filling up 75% of the space when the clothes are dry.
Find Small Ways to Reduce Energy Usage
This is the stereotypical Dad move, being a stickler about light switches and refrigerator doors. But annoying your family members aside, these seemingly small examples of unnecessary energy consumption can add up big-time on your energy bill. Here are a few tips towards reducing extra energy use:
- Turn off the TV, cable box, computers, video game consoles, coffee makers, etc. when not in use
- Unplug phone and computer chargers when not being used
- Use a car phone charger to charge your cell phone
- Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs (bonus: they last longer and need less replacement!)
- Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms
- Reduce the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer by one or two notches
- Lower the heat setting of your hot water heater
- Boil water on the stove instead of using an electric kettle
Check In With Your Power Company
If you’re concerned about the amount of your electric bill, it’s worth a call to your electric company to express your concerns. While you may have to be on hold for a while, it’s usually worth it in the long run. Your power company may be able to offer some helpful advice in how to reduce your energy usage. If your bill has seemed exceedingly high lately, it’s also possible that errors have been made in billing calculations that would be worth checking for.
Also, some electric companies offer certain deals that you may not know about, such as discounts for non-peak hour energy usage (8pm-8am, for example). This would mean making the switch to running your laundry, dishwasher, and hot showers after 8 pm could lead to significant energy bill savings.
Schedule an HVAC Energy Efficiency Consultation
If you’re concerned about the increasing amount of your electric bill this summer, scheduling an HVAC energy efficiency consultation is a great way to find out how you can reduce the energy consumption of your AC unit. It could be that your HVAC unit has broken parts, needs a cleaning or tune-up, or needs new ductwork—all of which can lead to your AC unit working harder than it needs to, leading to excessive energy usage.
If you would like an expert check-up on your HVAC unit in the Houston area, Cruz Air & Electric is ready to help. Call us today at 281-446-4272.