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Summer Savings: Tips to keep your energy bills low

Published June 20, 2024

Balancing comfort and cost isn’t always straightforward. Factors like rain, air quality, and humidity impact how we use energy to keep our homes comfortable. After the second wettest Spring in Minnesota history, humidity and wet-bulb temperatures will be a concern for Minnesotans’ comfort and health. As you acclimate to summer conditions, here are some tips to reduce your energy costs and increase your energy efficiency.

  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 before the AC kicks on. This allows you to be energy efficient and is still comfortable for many people.
  2. Use fans. 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. Ceiling fans should run counterclockwise to create a cooling, downward breeze.
  3. 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. 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.
  4. 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 from coming in.   
  5. 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 use times. See if your utility offers a program here.
  6. Remember to use the bathroom fan to remove excess heat and humidity from escaping into the rest of your home.
  7. 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 hottest part of the day.
  8. Adapt your activities to 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.
  9. Learn about designated cooling centers in your area.  These are good places to shelter and take a break from the sun and the heat. For example, Hennepin and Ramsey counties have set up locations specifically for the purpose of keeping people safe and cool during periods of extreme heat.
  10. Upgrade your appliances. There are many federal, state, utility, and local rebates and incentives available to upgrade your home 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. Visit Clean Energy Resource Team’s guide to the Inflation Reduction Act for information on federal tax incentives and rebates.
  11. Schedule a home energy audit to assess your home needs. 

If you would like some more suggestions for reducing your home energy expenses or have any particular questions about your home, call 651-300-4701 or info@cubminnesota.org.

Author: Nick Heid

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