16 Easy DIY Projects to Reduce Your Summer (& Winter) Electricity Bills
The Texas summer heat waves are rising up from the pavement while the sun beats down on your rooftop. It’s no wonder your power bill jumps as the AC struggles to keep up. Even a powerful home AC still uses more power in the heat of summer than any other time of the year. Here in Texas, even the winter heating bill can’t rival the cost of summer cooling. So, let’s look at some ways to save money on your summer electricity bill.
There are a ton of ways to lower your power bill, some big, some small. You can take on big home improvement projects, like installing new double-paned windows or smaller efforts, such as the addition of a smart thermostat that adapts to the ebb and flow of your cooling needs. But for those looking at more approachable DIY solutions, you can still significantly lower that seasonal power bill with just a few smart projects around the house.
Let’s dive into our favorite do-it-yourself ways to reduce your electricity use in the summer.
Four ways to save money on your electricity bill
1. Trap the AC Inside Your House
Re-Caulk Your Windows
A lot of heat can get lost out rattling window panes, something common especially in dry Texas houses where heat, rains, and droughts cause regular swelling and contracting of your window frames. This breaks seals, causes window rattle, and allows precious AC to slip out your window cracks. Re-seal those windows with a new round of caulk around the window pane, but without sealing your opening windows closed.
Install New Weather Stripping on Doors & Windows
Help your doors and opening windows keep the cold in by reinstalling the weather stripping. Most weather stripping is only made to last between two and five years. If you don’t know when the weather stripping was last replaced, a new round could significantly improve your AC-based power costs.
Improve Your Attic Insulation & Airflow
Improve your attic. Houses can lose air through an under-insulated attic. If you’re familiar with attic work, add a new layer of insulation and seal up any obvious areas for drafts. Make sure the vents are clear (especially of fluffy insulation) so that your attic airflow is also healthy and insulating. You’ll be surprised how much this can help reduce your electricity bill.
Close or Insulate Closets
Many closets are not properly insulated. You’ll notice added heat when you open the closet door. Keep your closet doors closed to trap that insulation through the door or insulate the interior of each closet by papering the walls in foil insulator wrap.
Weather-Seal the Pet Doors
If you have a pet door or two, adding weather stripping or otherwise find ways to seal that door when it’s supposed to be closed. Pet doors are often a notorious source of lost AC and unsuspected summer power bill costs.
Cast Shade on the House
Keep your house shady. Encourage tall branching trees or build awnings around the house. The less sun hits your roof, siding, and windows, the less heat you’ll be fighting against with the AC’s power.
2. Stay Cool for Less
Set the Thermostat a Few Degrees “Less”
In the summer, set your thermostat just a few degrees warmer than normal and you could save hundreds over the summer. Central air conditioning uses, on average, 1 kWh per ton per hour. A 5-ton air-conditioner will use approximately 5 kWh per hour, which would use 60 kWh per day, if it ran for 12 hours. Here is a calculator to help you understand the costs. un the AC at 77 instead of 74 and discover the power bill difference.
Adjust Thermostat When No One is Home
If the house is empty, let it warm up for the hottest hours of the day. Last person out the door sets the thermostat to a toasty 85, safe for appliances but too warm for most Texans indoors. Then first person home sets the thermostat to cool the house for an evening at home (or install the smart thermostat to do it for you).
Run Ceiling Fans and Rooms
Make use of your ceiling fans – they are much more affordable to run than your AC fan. Why? The AC blower has to push air all through the house. Your ceiling fan cools one specific area. Set ceiling fans and floor-mounted fans around the house to keep it breezy without using more AC than you need.
Seasonal Bedding, Clothing, and Curtains
Switch up your clothes. When the summer gets really hot, give into your need to wear shorts and breezy shirts. Wear light cotton or even exercise active-wear clothing designed to wick sweat and cool in moving air. Switch your bedding to the cool percale weave in natural fibers to sleep cooler. Swap your heavy winter curtains for the light breezy kind combined with some serious anti-blinding sun shades. When your fabrics match the season, you can turn the AC a little warmer and sleep a little cooler all summer.
Try a Swamp Cooler
Swamp coolers only work, ironically, in dry climates because it works through evaporative cooling. Some regions of Texas are more than dry enough to bring the temperature down for very little electricity cost using swamp cooler technology.
3. Use Less Electricity By Accident
Stop Phantom Load with Power Strips
Did you know that many appliances keep sucking up electricity after you switch them off? Experts call this Phantom Load. There are a number of reasons for this to be true, but there is one easy solution. Plug your appliances, computers, and devices into power strips. Simply switch the power strips off when you’re done with the appliances and easily prevent the power-costs of phantom load.
Keep Your Filters & Vents Clean
Want your AC to flow efficiently through the house? Make sure there’s nothing blocking it in the ducts, vents, and filters it must flow through to reach each room. Check your AC unit filter and change it out regularly (every 1 to 9 months). It’s easy to check your vent registers and clean them if they are covered in old dust. Take a peek at your ducts to ensure they are still clear.
Clean the Fridge Seal & Coils
Another high-usage appliance might be your refrigerator. Just like the AC, the fridge has to work harder on warm days to keep your food cold. The more efficiently it works, the less you pay for the considerable power it consumes. Clean your refrigerator and freezer door seals and them moisten them with petroleum jelly to boost performance. Then gently brush the built-up dust from the fridge’s coolant coils in the back to boost cooling efficiency with less power.
4. Make the Most of Your Power Bill
Switch to Average Billing
If your summer power bill is too much or you don’t like the seasonal cost-difference, sign up for average billing. Average billing for power bills uses historical data on the annual electricity usage at your address, and divides that amount by 12, so you pay about the same amount each month. While you will pay the same amount over the 12 months, you won’t see the wild swings during the higher-usage months, so you’ll pay less on your electricity bills during the summer months.
Soak Up Some Solar Credits
If you have solar panels or are handy with the equipment, you can even hook up solar and start selling some of the power you generate back to the power company for a monthly bill discount.
Make big summer electricity bills a thing of the past. Are you ready to get started on one or more of these project and see which works for you? You’ll find big savings on those summer energy bills.
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