Save Money on Electricity

Cooling and Heating Tips to Save Money on Electricity

Use the following heating and air conditioning tips to save money on your electric bill:

  • Adjust the Temperature of the Thermostat – There is no better thing you can do to save money on electricity than to reduce the use of it. Therefore adjust the thermostat to a higher temperature in the summer and a lower temperature in the winter. In the summer, each degree the thermostat is set below 78 degrees will increase energy use by 3-4%. Sounds easy, doesn’t it. Some of the tips below will help you be more comfortable despite the thermostat adjustment.
  • Use Ceiling Fans – It is estimated that it costs 70 times more to operate the air conditioner than a ceiling fan. When you use a ceiling fan in the summer you can adjust the temperature several degrees warmer and feel just as comfortable. A fan will blow the pocket of warm air that surrounds a person away from them. The body creates heat and the heat slowly radiates away from the body. It creates a sort of envelope of heat around the body. A fan blows the heat away just like blowing on hot food cools it by blowing the heat away. That being said, realize that fans cool people and not the room. Therefore, when you leave a room turn the fan off. If does no good to be blowing in a room if there is no one in there. In the winter, operate the fan in slow speed in reverse. The fan will gently push the hot air off the ceiling down into the room. Make sure that it is moving slow enough as to not create a draft.
  • Use Exhaust Fans in the Summer – In the summer you should use your exhaust fan when taking a shower. Humidity in the air will cause the body to feel much warmer because water holds heat. In the summer a dry 75 degrees is much more comfortable than a moist 75 degrees. Also when you are cooking you can use the kitchen exhaust fan to remove the heat from the stove. The heat will rise and be sucked right out of the room. Otherwise, the air conditioner will have to remove the heat, and it costs a whole lot more money to operate the air conditioner than the exhaust fan.
  • Don’t Use the Exhaust Fans in the Winter – In the winter don’t use the exhaust fans. The exception would be if you burned the food or the odor from the food is unpleasant. If that is the case, by all means, use the exhaust fan in the kitchen. When you are cooking, the heat from the stove and oven will help heat your home. Don’t use the bathroom exhaust fan when showering. After you are done showering open the bathroom door so that the warm moist air will travel through the house.
  • Use a Dehumidifier in the Summer –  A dehumidifier will remove moisture from the house. Moisture holds heat. Moisture also hampers the body's natural cooling system.
  • Use a Humidifier in the Winter – A humidifier adds moisture to the air. You can lower the temperature in the home several degrees and still be comfortable it there is moisture in the air. If you don’t want to buy a humidifier a misting bottle will also work. Just be careful around wood floors and furniture. Lightly spray the misting bottle throughout the house and your home will be more comfortable.
  • Purchase and Use a Programmable Thermostat – The advantage of a programmable thermostat is that if you leave home for work, you don’t have to remember to turn off the air conditioner or furnace. How many times have you gone off to work thinking the air or heat is going to run all day and there is not going to be anyone there to enjoy it. Not only do you save money on electricity, but you also save wear and tear on the equipment. Another advantage of a programmable thermostat is bedtime. In the summer it is too hot to turn the air conditioner down when you go to bed. However while at rest the body cools down and the temperature can be raised. Without a programmable thermostat, you have to get up from bed to raise the temperature. There is also the chance that you will fall asleep and forget to do it.
  • Change the Air Filter Regularly – Tests show that you can save 5% on your electricity bill in the summer if you change your air filter regularly. That’s because it is essential that your air conditioner has proper airflow. Without good airflow, the system has to work harder to do the job. Not only does the electricity bill suffer, but the air conditioning equipment also receives unnecessary wear and tear. If you allow the filter to become dirty, eventually the evaporator coil will become dirty. Then the system will not operate efficiently. The end result is higher electric bills and more chance the air conditioner will need repair. Note that good airflow is also necessary for your home to heat properly. Additionally, if the air filter becomes clogged the limit switch could turn off the furnace due to the heat buildup from lack of airflow.
  • Invest in Insulation – The Department of Energy recommends R-49 insulation in the attic. Has your attic checked? If it needs insulation, invest in some. It will save on your electricity both in summer and the winter. If you use gas to heat it will also cut your gas bill. Invest today in new insulation. The sooner you invest the sooner it will pay for itself. Not only will you save money on electricity, but you will also save money on air conditioning repairs and early replacement.
  • Properly Ventilate the Attic – How is your attic being ventilated? It could be turbines, ridge vents, roof vents or power attic fans. Ridge vents are a very effective way of ventilating the attic because they span almost the entire roof-line. They are also located at the highest point of the roof which allows more heat to be released. If a new roof is being installed, talk to your contractor about a ridge vent system. Turbines have been a popular way of ventilating the attic. They spin as the heat rises and passes through them. There are also power ventilating options. No matter what type of ventilation you use to draw hot air out of the attic, you must also evaluate whether you have enough soffit vents. Soffit vents are located under the eves. There must be enough soffit vents to allow adequate ventilation. If you do not have adequate ventilation, the attic becomes much hotter. The hotter the attic, the more heat the insulation must stop. It is much easier for the insulation to work if there is less heat to stop.
  • Request Spring and Fall System Checks – Have your air conditioning and heating system checked before they are used each season. This is particularly important with the air conditioner. That’s because if it is improperly charged it could run needlessly for extended periods of time. If this happens, up goes the electric bill.
  • Evaluate the Duct System – One company did a test and found that in their test 27% of the heating and cooling was lost in the ductwork. They also determined that 86% of the homes were losing at least 10% of the heating and cooling through the ductwork. Much older home have deteriorating duct runs. When you receive a preseason checkup, the technician should check the condition of the duct. Any air loss should be corrected.
  • Shade the Outside Condenser – It is estimated that the air conditioner will be 10% more efficient if the condenser is located it the shade. That’s because the air conditioner moves heat from the inside of the house to the outside. If the unit is in the shade it is much cooler if the sun is not beating down on it. If the condenser is currently located in the afternoon sun, plant a shade tree to correct the situation. Shade trees don’t have to be large, they just need to be planted in the right spot. Visit your neighborhood nursery for suggestions.
  • Clean the Condenser – To operate properly the coils on the air conditioner should be kept clean. The evaporator coils are kept clean with the air filter. The condenser coils are kept clean by washing them. It is best to wash the condenser several times during the season to keep them clean. If air cannot pass through them easily they will not operate efficiently. It only takes a few minutes and the results of keeping clean coils can be dramatic. Before you wash the coils, have your air conditioning technician show you how. It is easy to damage the coils if too much water pressure is used. Also, be sure to turn the air conditioner off if you are mowing or weed-eating around it. If not, dirt and debris will be sucked into the coils. If you have a heat pump, the condenser will be used for heating. The coils must stay clean for this also.
  • Ventilation Around the Condenser – To operate efficiently the air conditioning condenser needs to have adequate ventilation around it. This is so new, cooler air can be drawn into the system. This also reduces the heat buildup around the system. Make sure the unit is the proper distance away from any structures. Also don’t plant any bushes or build anything near the condenser. The more cool air around the unit the more efficient it will operate.
  • Use a Room Space Heater – If you have a room where you spend most of your time, try using a space heater. You can turn the temperature down to the rest of the house and just heat the one room with a portable heater. This can save money especially when it is extremely cold. If you are leaving for the day, be sure to turn the heater off. Ceramic or quartz heaters are efficient and safe.
  • Use a Bed Fan – At night a bed fan can be used to circulate the air. This will make it feel cooler. Be careful with the fan blowing directly on you. Some people wake up tight and sore.
  • Dress Appropriately – If you want to save money on your electric bill, dress appropriately. If it is summer, dress in shorts and short sleeves. If it is in winter, wear a sweatshirt or sweater on top of your normal long sleeve shirt. Also when you are sitting on the couch, have a blanket handy. If you do this your savings will add up fast.
  • Purchase New Air Conditioning and Heating Equipment – New air conditioning equipment is much more efficient than equipment built just 10-15 years ago. That’s because in 2006 it was mandated by the Department of Energy that the SEER rating of equipment sold in the United States would be 13 or above. That number has since been raised and we are likely raised again. The higher the rating is, the more efficient the equipment. SEER is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The SEER ratio is the BTU divided by the total electric energy input in watt-hours. This is measured over a cooling season or another period of time.