Summer is here, and your energy bill is already skyrocketing. What can you do? Whether you live in a house, condo, or apartment, summer presents a challenge to everyone’s finances. If you’re on a tight budget, here are a few cost-saving tips to reign in your runaway summer energy bills.
Quick Home Energy Audit. You don’t have to shell out the extra cash to hire an energy auditor–you can do your own home energy audit! First, check your home for places where air tends to leak (in or out). Doorways and windows are usually the biggest culprits. If your doorway is drafty, solve the problem by purchasing a draft blocker. If your windows are to blame, consider putting up insulating window film or rubber weather sealing, both of which are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased at your local hardware or home improvement store. Next, check vents around your home to ensure that they aren’t blocked and that they’re open. It may seem counterintuitive to keep all vents open, but your air conditioning unit has to work harder when vents are closed. Finally, check your outlets. Is anything plugged directly into the outlet? Is it a surge bar? No? Unplug it. If it’s plugged into a wall outlet, chances are good that it’s a “vampire”–a device that drains power even when it’s turned off. Corral those devices with a surge bar, which can be flicked on and off with the simple touch of a button. Want more help? A little research can yield dozens of apps that can help audit your home and track energy usage over time.
Energy Applications for Appliances. Anyone who’s ever seen the back or bottom of a refrigerator has been surprised by how much dust accumulates. Your refrigerator has to work hard to keep your food cold, and the displaced heat has to go somewhere. When dust coats a refrigerator’s coils, it not only makes the refrigerator less efficient, it can also become a fire hazard. Check your those coils frequently, and clean them whenever they get dirty. You can boost your refrigerator’s efficiency in other ways, too. Pack the refrigerator and freezer as full as you can get them. You don’t have to buy extra groceries to do this. Instead, fill containers with water and use those to fill in the gaps. Don’t forget to leave enough space for air to circulate! To keep your dishwasher running efficiently, only run it when it’s full. You might be tempted to rinse your plates, but most modern dishwashers can handle even the thickest meatloaf sauce. Save yourself some water and energy by scraping food scraps into the trash. If it’s your oven that foils your dreams of an energy efficient home, a few simple changes can mean big bucks over time. Switch to glass cookware, which is more efficient than metal. When cooking on the stove top, make sure your pan size matches the burner. To avoid heating up your apartment, only use your oven in the evenings, when it’s cooler.
Make New Habits. Energy efficiency isn’t just about new appliances or home improvements. Sometimes, it’s about habits–like remembering to turn the lights out when you leave a room, or making sure you switch your fans to run counterclockwise in the summer. Train yourself to be conscious of all of the little ways you use energy in your home and then create habits to minimize those energy drains as much as possible.