I know, I know – it’s only March. But in some places it’s already 80 degrees every day! So to give those of you in cold weather a head start, and those already living in warm temperature some advice, I decided to post these tips on reducing your energy costs today in the first week of March. (Besides, the Obama Administration just announced the Cash for Caulkers program, which can net you rebates on energy efficiency upgrades to your house) And along with the dog days of summer comes that scary time of the month when the electric bill arrives…you know the feeling; the white envelope shows up (or the e-bill, hopefully!) and you are afraid to open it because it might be the size of a mortgage payment. Well, there are a few tips you can use to keep the “bill shock” to a minimum and spare yourself from eating only rice and beans for the entire month while not sacrificing the comfort level inside your home. Before summer arrives in much of the of the world, you may want to start preparing.
If you have central air conditioning, pay the $50-$75 to have the HVAC guy come out and service your unit. After a thorough cleaning and going through, your AC will run a lot more efficiently all summer.
Be sure that you have a programmable thermostat for your central AC, so you can schedule it to be on when you need it and off when you don’t. These are relatively inexpensive, available everywhere, and very easy to install.
If you do not have central AC and are going with window units, be sure to only buy ones that are Energy Star certified. Also, you can put them on heavy-duty timers so that they can remain off during the day and can be turned on a little bit before you come home from work.
Lower your shades and blinds during the day to block out the sun. Keeping the sun from heating up the inside of your home can make a big difference in how much energy you need to cool it down once you get home.
When in doubt, leave your ceiling fans running 24/7. I had them in my old place in California and they definitely helped to move the air around and cool me off, all at minimum cost. I was able to leave the AC off for longer with all the fans running in the various rooms, and they barely cost more than an incandescent light bulb to run.
If you have not done so already, be sure to put all electronics that don’t need to be on 24/7 on power strips that can be turned off at night or while you are at work. (As I have previously discussed) Computers, radios, televisions, DVD players, etc all suck energy even when they are off due to “phantom power”, which is drawn at all times so they turn on quickly when you need them. Turning off power strips when you don’t need these things can save you a few bucks a month.
Pick up a few standalone fans and place them strategically around your house. In the summer I have one in the corner by a living room window, so if it is really hot inside I can make it force air outside, cooling off the place for minimum cost.
If after doing everything you can think of to lower your bill and it is still not going down enough to satisfy you, you can always sign up to have your payments to the utility company spread out over the course of the year. So if you normally pay $100 per month in the summer but only $50 per month in the winter, they take your estimated average for the year and charge you that per month. At least that way there will be no major surprises and headaches come June, and you can know ahead of time what you will be paying!
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