Much has been written about avoiding electric bill shock in cold weather, but fewer savings tips for the summer heat are available. Until now. Here are some tips to help you lower your electric bills during the summer and early fall.
8 Ways to Minimize Electric Bill Shock
1. Get the right window or room air conditioner. ENERGY STAR® publishes guidelines to help you learn what size unit to install based on your room size. You shouldn’t use one more powerful than you need since you’ll waste energy.
2. Have a technician fine tune your HVAC system. Even slight problems can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 20 percent. An annual check up by an experienced technician can eliminate this energy waste.
3. Keep your filters clean. If you have central air conditioning, change your filters regularly. A monthly cycle should be sufficient. Window units usually have washable filters that should be cleaned whenever they clog with dust. Central and window units lose efficiency and, therefore, work harder (as in using more electricity) when air flow becomes difficult with clogged filters.
4. Use a programmable thermostat to save up to $180 per year on your household electric bill. These thermostats are not expensive (many around $50) and easy to program. You needn’t have a degree in computer science to program savings into your HVAC system. You simply tell your thermostat what temperature you want at different times of the day.
5. Seal all windows and doors to prevent cool air leaks. Cool air can escape to the outside through the tiniest openings, causing your air conditioning system to use more electricity to maintain the temperature you want.
6. Close your shades and blinds. Minimizing direct sunlight during daytime hours is a formidable energy saving measure. It costs you nothing to take this action, but it will save you significant electricity dollars.
7. Unplug all of your stuff, as standby power uses 5 to 10 percent of your annual electricity consumption. Even when your TV, home theater system, computer, etc. is turned off, these electronics draw small amounts of power. Unplugging them when you’re away or not using them for longer periods reduces electric bill shock. A better idea: Use power strips for electronics and simply turn off the strip, which is easier than unplugging everything and accomplishes the same goal.
8. Check for special plans your utility company may offer. Some utility companies offer some special plans that can reduce your electric bill. For example, some utilities have plans that reduce your cost if you use energy during below-peak times. Other companies offer a “fixed price” plan that charges you the same kilowatt charge for all hours, even higher cost peak usage periods. Find out if your utility company has any special offers.