Table of ContentsFind the right energy plan Manage air conditioning costs Change air filters regularly Water heater levels Energy efficient laundry Cooking costs Check window seals
Summer energy bills can be expensive. Electricity rates are often higher in the summer because residents and businesses rely more on air conditioning to stay cool and comfortable. And in states such as Texas, summer electricity prices have already experienced a significant increase.
Summer energy rates normally go up because hotter temperatures drive up the demand for electricity. But this summer, there are non-seasonal factors impacting prices as well. The war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia have driven up the cost of oil and natural gas in the U.S. Inflation and supply chain issues have also resulted in higher prices for electricity.
So, how can you stay cool this summer without driving up your electricity bills? Here are some ways to prepare for the hottest months this summer.
Find the right energy plan
If you live in an area with a deregulated energy market, choosing the right electricity plan can make a big difference. But it isn’t always as simple as signing up for a plan with the cheapest electric rate.
Energy plans offer different rates depending on how much power you consume every month. Plans normally break into three usage tiers — 500 kWh or less, 1000 kWh, and 2000 kWh or more. If you check a plan’s Electricity Facts Label (EFL), you can find the exact rate for each usage tier.
The key to choosing the right energy plan depends on understanding how much power you use in your home. Our energy usage calculator can help you estimate your monthly electricity usage and recommend plans based on your consumption level. You can also check your most recent energy bill to find a record of your historical electricity usage.
There are other factors to consider when shopping for an energy plan, including the type of plan, contract length, green energy options, and more. Learn more about finding the right electricity plan.
Manage air conditioning costs
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), air conditioning costs make up about 12% of total energy expenses for residential consumers. In regions of the country with hot and humid climates, cooling costs can reach up to $500 annually, making up about 27% of total energy costs.
Routine maintenance for your A/C unit can help it run efficiently and keep costs down. Schedule an appointment with a licensed professional before the height of the summer so your unit can get a check up before it needs to work overtime.
The EIA says it’s possible to save 10% in cooling costs each year by setting your thermostat 7-10 degrees higher than its normal setting for 8 hours a day. For most households, the most efficient temperature in the summer is 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, that setting might be too warm for some households, but every degree higher you set your thermostat will help lower costs. Even setting your thermostat two degrees higher and relying more on your ceiling fan can help lower your A/C costs by up to 14%.
There are also ways to make sure the rest of your home helps your A/C unit run efficiently. Move furniture away from air vents to allow for better air circulation. You can also close your window blinds and curtains during the day to block direct sunlight and keep your home cooler. And in the summer, make sure your ceiling fans spin in a counterclockwise direction. This direction pushes air down and creates a cooler breeze.
Change air filters regularly
Changing your air filters on a regular basis will let your A/C unit function more efficiently by encouraging proper air circulation. The Department of Energy says replacing dirty air filters can reduce your air conditioner’s energy consumption by up to 15%.
Dirty air filters lower the amount of airflow and affect how much energy your A/C unit needs to use in order to move cool air throughout your home. Home Depot recommends changing fiberglass air filters every 30 days and pleated air filters every 90 days. Changing your air filters is normally a simple task that only takes a few minutes. You can also ask an HVAC technician for assistance during your regular HVAC inspection.
Water heater levels
When the weather is hotter, a simple way to reduce energy usage is to lower your water heater temperature. Setting your water heater temperature to lower than 120 degrees Fahrenheit will extend the life of your water heater and reduce the amount of electricity it consumes.
If you go on vacation this summer, turn off electric heaters and turn down gas heaters while you are away. The average household spends up to $620 each year on water heating, according to Energy Star. This makes heating water the second largest energy expenditure, behind heating and cooling costs.
Energy efficient laundry
Washing machines and dryers are some of the biggest energy consuming appliances in the home. Turning down the temperature on your water heater will help you lower the cost to wash your clothes this summer. To save even more, wash clothes in cold water. Heating water makes up about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer.
Clothes dryers account for approximately 80% of the energy used for household laundry, according to Energy Star. If your dryer has a sensor to shut off when clothes are dry, using it can lower the dryer’s usage significantly. Cleaning your dryer’s lint filter before every load and using a lower heat setting will also lower your dryer’s energy costs.
To avoid wasting energy, always cover pots and pans to keep heat in when cooking on the stove. Trapping the heat in the pot can raise the temperature inside the pot quicker and lower overall cooking times. Covering your pot when cooking on an electric cooktop also offers an environmental benefit because it can save about 85 pounds of carbon dioxide every year because you are consuming less electricity, according to Energy Star.
Keep burners clean on gas ranges to ensure maximum efficiency. Also, be sure to match your pot size to your burner size. If you use a large burner to heat a small pan, you’re using 40% more heat than you need.
Avoid using the oven during the hottest time of the day, if possible. When you turn on the oven, it can raise the temperature of your kitchen and force you to bump down the air conditioner to keep cool. Instead, opt for slow cookers, toaster ovens, microwaves, or grills. Microwaves use up to 80% less energy, reduce cooking time, and produce less heat than electric or gas ovens
Check window seals
Window seals close the gap between the window and the walls of your home, making sure that outside air stays outside and keeping inner air inside. This is especially important in the summer when consumers are spending more to cool their home.
Old window seals need to be replaced because they can leak and let air in or out. You may not need to replace every seal each year, but you should inspect your windows annually for leaks or deterioration that could impact your home’s energy efficiency. You should be able to detect any gaps or leaks visually by checking the weather stripping around windows and door for cracks, discoloration, deterioration, or signs of light coming in from outside.
Find more ways to save energy around the home below.