Cost-Effective Ways to Beat the Heat and to Lower Your Electric Bill This Summer
Summer is here. With temperatures above 80 degrees in the early morning, our air conditioners are already in overdrive. The effects of our ongoing A/C use are clear when those inflated electric bills arrive each month. The demand for electricity to power our incessant need for cooler air is taxing the national power grid and leading to record-setting energy use. With megawatts of electricity being piped across the nation, rolling blackouts and brownouts are common in areas with high energy demands. From simple home improvements and window replacements to smart energy use and insulation, here are a few things that you can do to stay cool and to lower your energy consumption this summer.
It sounds too good to be true, but many states and local organizations will pay you to lower your energy bills. If you make energy-efficient improvements, you’ll be rewarded with rebates or tax credits. In New York, the state will reimburse residents who pay for an energy evaluation. North American Power is giving residents in the New York tri-state area pairs of free Yankees tickets just for selecting the company as their primary energy provider. Other utility providers and municipal organizations offer rebates for installing ENERGY STAR replacement windows. These rebates range from $1 to $6 per square foot of window area.
Home Improvement Projects
Heating and cooling systems account for 40 percent of household energy costs. To control your energy bill, you must maintain your air conditioner. Many heating and cooling companies offer a discount on fall tune-ups if you have them inspect your air conditioning unit in the spring. Cleaning your filters regularly is essential for maintaining healthy air and reducing the strain on your system. If you have central air conditioning, inspect the ductwork for leaks. Some companies inject vaporized sealant that plugs leaks quickly and effectively. Installing a programmable thermostat is another simple change that can reduce energy costs considerably. Program the thermostat to stay at 78 degrees for optimal performance.
Simple Changes Produce Dramatic Results
Blocking the heat is crucial for keeping your house cool without spending more. Checking windows and doors for air leaks is a great way to lower your cooling costs. If drafts cannot be sealed with weather stripping or foam insulation, consider a window replacement service. Install blinds or shades with reflective backings to block heat and light from windows and skylights. You’ll notice the difference immediately.
There are several other things you can do to reduce your energy bills with very little effort. Incandescent light bulbs produce a lot of heat and a comparatively small amount of light. Switch incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones to reduce the level of heat they give off and to lower the amount of energy consumed. Unplug appliances that use power when they’re not running. These items include computers, stereos, microwaves and televisions. You could also connect them to a power strip that can be turned off at the source.
Don’t pay to cool the outside. Leaks are costly problems that will increase your energy bills all year if they are not repaired. By making a few simple changes, you’ll enjoy lower energy bills, you’ll do something good for the environment, and you’ll help prevent the rolling blackouts that are needed to prevent total outages.
Stephen Craig is always looking for guest blogging opportunities. Follow him @SCraigSEO.