Mission: Possible – Achieving Summer Energy Savings


As summer temperatures rise, so does energy usage. While cranking up the AC and using more electricity to keep things cool, households can find ways to save energy and save money.

We have already offered 9 free ways to save electricity in the summer. Now, here are some additional simple summer energy-saving tips organized by room to help you not only save electricity around the house, but also keep costs down during these hot months.

In the Kitchen

Let your dishes air dry. Set your dishwasher control to the air-dry option, which doesn’t use electricity. Remember to open the dishwasher door a crack to help the dishes dry faster.

Invest in a new fridge. If your refrigerator was manufactured before 1993, it’s time to invest in an Energy Star fridge, which uses about 40% less energy than conventional models. Even though this is a big-ticket item, the fastest way to energy efficiency is through new technology. Plus, it’s always better to be proactive and replace an appliance before it breaks down.

Think before you cook. Use toaster ovens or the outdoor grill for meals instead of your large oven, which can heat up the house. A toaster oven uses one-third to one-half as much energy as a full-sized oven. You can also take those meats as well as veggies to the grill outside, which means a cooler kitchen and maybe an easier cleanup for the cook!

In the Bathroom

Fix those drips. Even though it is hot outside, you still need hot water. Leaky faucets in the sink and shower waste water and energy. One hot water drip per second wastes up to 1,661 gallons per year.

Consider your shower time. During the summer, consider taking hot showers and baths during cooler times of the day. You want to avoid adding heat from a steamy shower to your home during the hottest hours while your AC is already working hard. Also, place a 5-minute timer next to your shower to help remind you to take a shorter shower and reduce the amount of hot water you use.

Install low-flow faucets and showerheads. Low-flow fixtures do not break the bank at $10-$20 each and can help reduce water usage by 25 percent to 60 percent. As we learned recently, water-heating costs can account for up to 22 percent of your energy bill, so this small step can greatly reduce your energy costs.

Unplug. Remember to unplug hair dryers, electric toothbrush chargers and other bathroom gadgets when you are finished using them, which prevents the vampire power drain. Do not, however, use power strips in the bathroom, as this is a safety hazard.

In the Living Room

Switch to energy-efficient lighting. Switching out 15 traditional incandescent bulbs with energy-saving ones can save you $50 a year.

Upgrade your AC. Switch to a high-efficiency air conditioner – even if your unit is only 10 years old, you can reduce your energy use by 20 percent to 40 percent and save money on electricity.

Turn on that ceiling fan. A ceiling fan produces the wind chill effect, which makes the air feel cooler than it actually is. This allows you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F and remain comfortable. Just remember to turn off the fan before leaving a room. The wind chill effect only works when you are there.

In the Yard

Plant shade trees. Reduce your home’s cooling costs with landscape shading. Trees that are planted on the east, west and south sides of your house help block the sun and  reduce the radiant heat in your home.

Have a swimming pool? Install a solar pool heater or use a pool cover to reduce pool-heating costs. Also, consider using the smallest size pump possible for your pool and reduce the time it runs to save energy. Some pool owners have energy savings of 75% as a result of downsizing and operating their pumps less.

Finally, if you are in the market for a new appliance or electronic device, consider using ones with the Energy Star logo. While electricity used for air conditioning has declined the past 10 years, households have an increasing number of appliances and electronics. Energy Star-certified products can save nearly $900 during the products’ lifetime.

Sources: Power To Choose, Energy.gov, Public Utility Commission of Texas, Energy Star

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