Summer is in full swing with its loyal subject the sun beaming and scorching down its wrath upon us. Several states particularly in the South, Southwest, East Coast and Midwest have all been trending in the 90s with desert states like Arizona reporting temperatures up to 120 degrees in the mid-day.
The mercury on the thermometer and the apex of the sun aren’t the only things that will be skyrocketing to new heights this season though. Our electricity bills will also be seeing unprecedented heights never seen throughout the year. With air-conditioning working extra hard to bring the temperature down inside the house and refrigerators running so hard it’ll take Usain Bolt to catch it. I was just talking to a buddy who lives over in Phoenix and he normally spends about $85 on electricity for most of the year but his June bill hit almost $800 for his 3300 sq. ft. home!
This inspired me to put together some life hacks on how to reduce your electric bills in the summer. A few dollars and cents here and there can definitely go a long way.
Unplug appliances that suck up power even when turned off
Just like vampires, some appliances lurk in the darkness and suck the life juice out of your house when you least expect it. Before you start unplugging all your appliances and risk spoiling the meat in your fridge, it would be wiser to seek them out instead to isolate them. Some clues for
appliances that lurk in the shadows are if they have clocks that run even when they are turned off or if they have some form of standby mode on them then most probably they are consuming electricity.
2. Consider your air-conditioning’s efficiency
The biggest consumer of your household’s electricity is that sweet invention that shelters us from the outside heat and makes our lives comfortable. I’m talking about the A/C and before you decide to just turn the thing off and suffer in sweltering heat like our ancestors did, you can take steps to make it consume less electricity and run more efficiently.
Consider having your HVAC unit checked by an expert to ensure it’s running efficiently. Normally, cleaning the air filters, ensuring the components are running well, ensuring the blower fans are free of dust that bog it down and a multitude of things can contribute to your A/C working harder and chomping down more power. Another option, if your A/C is of considerable age, would be to invest in one of the newer inverter units.
An inverter-type A/C works by regulating the intensity of the compressor. That’s the component that works hardest in cooling the air the A/C sucks in. Older unites have the compressor working full blast, then shutting it down at intervals based on the thermostat’s temperature. An inverter regulates the compressor using more advanced sensor and fuzzy logic technology. Think of it as a light dimmer, instead of having your lights just turning off and on, a light dimmer allows you to control the intensity of the light.
3. Manage the thermostat in your home to keep the house within reasonable temperature
There are several schools of thought on this one thermostats, one school is that you should always keep your A/C on at a certain temperature level, like at 82 degrees. Others say you should jut turn it off when you’re not at home. Well, in terms of energy savings, the latter definitely makes more sense especially if you’re out for long periods of time like when you’re at work. Having your A/C completely off doesn’t consume any electricity at all and will warrant the most savings.
The caveat here though is that when you get home to your house that turned into a Swedish sauna, you are often tempted to crank up the A/C to full blast causing it to work extra hard to get the temperature down in the shortest time its master ordered it to. The key here is proper management of your thermostat. Even older thermostats have timers on them, so use that feature wisely to cool the house to the 78 to 82 degree level that was suggested. Have it turn on about an hour to an hour and a h
alf before you arrive at home so that when you walk through the front door, your house is nice and cool. If you took up the offer earlier to upgrade your cooling hardware, try lookin
g for a model that uses wi-fi to remotely turn it one from your smartphone. That will save you a ton of energy and time.
4. Study your utility company’s time-variant pricing
Many utilities, in the spirit of reducing their carbon footprints, now encourage consumers to avoid certain peak hours of electricity use. With modern power generation that uses more renewable means it is easier to use electricity straight up as it gets generated rather than storing it and using it for later.
This is where you need to consult your utility’s conditions on time-variant pricing. Find out when the price spikes up and minimize electricity use during those hours. A great example would be to wash your clothes in the washing machine when the price is at its lowest. Dishwashers can usually keep your dirty dishes at bay and away from sight so you can avoid turning it on during peak hours, that is if you can resist doing so especially if you are OCD. Cook batches of food during the cheapest hours and just heat them up for dinner using the microwave. The microwave flash heats your food in a lesser amount of time making it one of the most efficient appliances in your household.
5. Charge your gadgets smarter
This one may sound borderline scrooge, but it works pretty well. Gadget usage is fast becoming one of the thirstiest juice drainers at home. Charge up the gadgets you plan to use in the evening at your workplace to full capacity before you leave. For tablets or laptop computers, turn them completely off instead of putting them into sleep after you’ve fully charged them. When you use them at home and they are running low on juice, that’s a signal that you’ve probably used them too long anyway and it’s time to do something else like go for a nice stroll or spend some time with the rest of your family.
These tips won’t magically make your electricity bills go completely away but they are a great way to consume electricity in the smartest way possible. You’ll be seeing the savings from wasteful activities you’ve cut out and in addition to that, you’ve done your fair share in reducing the planet’s carbon emissions. Enjoy the rest of the summer!