Some Texans don’t understand why their electricity usage increases in the summer months. They’re not doing anything differently, so why do their bills go up? The reason that their electricity usage increases actually has nothing to do with their lifestyles or habits – it has everything to do with the weather.
How Summer Weather Affects Your Electricity Bill
The main reason that a person’s electricity usage increases June through August is because that’s when houses absorb the most heat, which air conditioners then have to work hard to remove.
During the summer months, a large amount of heat invades your house through a variety of ways. The increase of heat in your home is often referred to as heat gain. One way this happens is through direct sunlight (a.k.a. radiation). Dark-colored exterior objects, such as your roof, absorb the sun’s heat.
Since your house is an enclosed object, the heat is then trapped inside. As more heat accumulates in your house, the temperature quickly rises and can surpass the outside temperature without the aid of air conditioning. This situation is similar to what happens to your parked car in the summer and explains why it is so dangerous to leave animals and pets in locked vehicles.
During the summer, heat also enters your home through hot air. Open doors and cracks are invitations for the hot exterior to come inside.
Without air conditioning to remove the large amount of heat transferred into our homes during the summer, we wouldn’t be able to cool our houses to a more comfortable temperature.
Mother Nature provides the most heat in the warmest season of the year, which means that’s when the most heat enters your home. Our air conditioners must work harder during the summer than they would in, let’s say, the spring to maintain the desired temperature inside.
How To Prevent Heat Gain
The best way to decrease the cost of your electricity bill in the summer is to prevent heat from entering your home.
You can do this by:
- Adding insulation. This could be a great opportunity in older homes that could have little to no insulation.
- Installing radiant barriers that reflect the sunlight instead of absorbing it.
- Shading your house with things like strategic landscaping or window coverings. The PUCT recommends considering mature size, growth rate, strength and brittleness before planting.
Find more information about how to prevent heat gain and decrease electricity usage through these methods on the Energy Savers website.