Late summer savings

Published August 11, 2021

Staying in that sweet spot where comfort meets energy savings is an art, and it’s been a hot summer so far. Cooling down is a huge part of your energy bill during the year and, given the heat, we thought we’d give you some tools to lower both your energy bill and the heat!

  1. Adjust your air conditioning. One of the best ways to reduce your energy bill is to adjust your AC settings. The Department of Energy recommends having your air conditioner set at 78 degrees when home and higher when away. This allows you to be energy efficient and is still comfortable for many people. If 78 degrees feels too warm, adjust it downward a degree or two at a time until you find a comfortable setting.
  2. Program your thermostat. Use a programmable thermostat to control and prioritize when your air conditioning turns on and off during the day. Many people like to set the temperature higher during the day and slightly lower at night. If everyone is gone from your home for regular periods during the day, you can program the temperature higher, and set it to return to your comfortable temperature about 30 minutes before you expect to arrive back home. Avoid placing lamps or TVs near the thermostat. Thermostats can detect heat from these appliances and can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  3. Take care of your air conditioning units. If you have central air conditioning, get your unit serviced annually to make sure it’s running efficiently. Remove obstacles from air vents and fans to ensure proper air flow throughout your home. If you have a window air conditioning unit, seal it with rope caulk to prevent cool air from leaking out and warm air coming in.   
  4. Take advantage of saver programs. If you have central air conditioning, there are programs that may be offered by your local utility to provide a discount on your bill. In exchange, your utility will have the ability to cycle your air conditioner on and off during peak energy times. See if your utility offers a program here.
  5. Use fans. Fans are your friends – Fans can make you feel up to 4 degrees cooler due to the wind chill effect. However, they don’t actually cool the air, so turn them off when you leave the room. Use bathroom fans to suck out heat and humidity from bathrooms, and in the summertime, ceiling fans should rotate counterclockwise to provide a down draft. If your ceiling fan is spinning clockwise, look for a small switch on the side of the unit to reverse its direction. Use fans instead of or with air conditioning to feel more comfortable. 
  6. Manage your window use. In the early morning and evening, open your windows to allow cool air to flow in. On especially hot days, closing windows, curtains, and shades during the day will maintain cool temperatures by keeping out the heat caused by sunlight.
  7. Time your activities around the heat. Avoid cooking, baking, and running appliances that generate heat, such as a clothes dryer, during the warmest parts of the day. It’s a great excuse to do some outdoor cooking and put off some of those household duties.
  8. Go to a designated cooling center. Hennepin and Ramsey counties have set up locations specifically for the purpose of keeping people safe and cool during periods of extreme heat. These are good places to shelter from the sun, and they provide an opportunity for you to shut off your AC units. 
  9. Upgrade your appliances. If you need to replace your air conditioner or any other appliances, look for ENERGY STAR rated models. they use less energy and save you money in the long run. When you switch, you may also qualify for a rebate from your utility, refunding some of the cost of your appliances. For those who don’t have central air conditioning and are looking to install or replace a room or window unit, Energy Star has a guide for helping you figure what to buy.

If you would like some more suggestions for reducing your home energy expenses or have any particular questions about your home, please reach out to me at dauriusm@cubminnesota.org.

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Author: Daurius Mikroberts

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