Summer is upon us, and while I'm sure we all hope for mild weather, chances are that your home energy costs may be rising—especially if you live in an area of the country affected by the recent heat wave. However, it's always a great idea to save money any way you can. So even if your energy costs aren't skyrocketing, consider the following ideas to make your electric bills more manageable this summer:
1. Adjust the Thermostat
Air conditioning costs a fortune, and if it runs around the clock, you can surely expect a huge bill. To reduce the expense, gradually raise the temperature of your thermostat by at least three degrees. Doing so will save you approximately 20 percent on your summer electric bills.
2. Request a Home Energy Audit
Many power companies can come to your home and perform a home energy audit for free. Providers have to borrow power from other companies at peak usage times in order to meet demands, which cost them a lot of money. Therefore, they have just as much motivation as you do to save energy at home. The audit typically takes about an hour, and the tips and advice provided can help you save a significant amount.
3. Switch Providers
If the power industry has been deregulated in your state, you have options of where to purchase your electricity. Therefore, check out the competition. Review your bill and find out what you're paying per kilowatt-hour, and see if you can find a better rate. However, be sure to look for any extra charges or hidden fees before you make the switch.
4. Turn on Ceiling Fans
If you have ceiling fans, utilize them. They cost pennies to run, and by doing so, your air conditioning unit runs more efficiently. If you don't have them, consider installing them—it's a one-time cost that will pay for itself quickly. Just be sure to run your fans counter-clockwise in the summertime, as this draws cooler air upward.
5. Adjust Your Habits
Typical household duties, such as running the dishwasher or washer and dryer, can significantly heat up your home and run up your electric bill during each use. Consider doing these chores during the early morning or late evening hours to minimize the effect on your cooling bills. Furthermore, only wash full loads of laundry, and only run the dishwasher when it is entirely full. By using these appliances less, you save even more money on your monthly utility bill.
6. Open and Close Doors and Windows
Track the hourly local temperature, and determine at what time the outdoor temperature will rise above the desired temperature inside your home. Open the doors and windows early in the morning, and don't close them until the outside temperature reaches the level of your thermostat. In the evening, open your doors and windows to let in the cool night air. This lessens your reliance on air conditioning.
When it comes to saving money, hitting a financial home run is always great—just don't ignore the small ways to save. The average American household spends roughly $2,200 per year on home energy costs. So even if you only save 10 percent, you'll still have an extra $220 in your pocket at the end of the year.
You don't need to make a huge sacrifice to save money. Reducing your electric bill only requires a change in habits. By putting some or all of these ideas into place, you're likely to see your energy bills taking a smaller chunk out of your checking account each month.
Do you have any other ideas on how to save on home energy bills?
David Bakke lives in Atlanta and frequently experiments with various ways to save money at home. He shares his tips and insights on the finance blog, MoneyCrashers.com.