Summer heat can raise your average utility bill
It’s summertime in Texas, and you know what that means … the air conditioners run 24/7 and can single-handedly cause your monthly average electricity costs to spike. True, summer doesn’t technically start until June 21. But, the weather in the Lone Star State tells a different story. Average June highs across the state are:
Amarillo, TX 80°
Bryan – College Station 95°
Corpus Christi 92°
Dallas-Fort Worth 92°
El Paso 89°
San Antonio 93°
In many other cities across the country, these temperatures would be considered extreme. But for Texans, it’s only the beginning of the summertime heat.
For this reason, you might be asking yourself, “How can I save on electric bills this summer?” or “How can I cut energy costs around the home?” Luckily, there are many things you can do to cut down your usage and help lower your energy bill without melting in the sun.
Energy-saving tips to lower your average electricity costs
Conserving energy is one of the top ways to save money on your electric bill. Since much of your bill depends on how many kilowatt hours (kWh) you use each month, reducing your usage in small ways can add up to significant savings. Follow these tips to become more energy efficient.
Show some filter love.
Your AC works hard for you, honey, so you’d better treat it right. Clean or change its air filter every month for greater efficiency. It’s one of the best ways to use less energy, since the more dust and debris stuck in the filter, the harder your AC has to work to cool your home.
Although the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors recommends swapping filters at least every 90 days, doing so more often is even better, especially during Texas summers. With all the work your AC does in the summer months, a monthly air filter change will keep it running efficiently and keep the air you breathe cleaner. Buying your filters in bulk can help lessen the cost of frequent replacement.
Take an energy break.
Why cool an empty home? Save some kWhs by making it a habit to adjust your thermostat before you leave home.
If the house will be empty for more than a few hours, raise the temperature. While you may or may not agree with Energy Star’s recommendation of 85° while away, every degree helps conserve energy. Plus, if you have a smart thermostat, even better! You can lower the temperature from your mobile device before you head home. Then, you’ll be greeted by a comfortable climate.
Avoid thirst traps.
When not in use, unplug computers, game consoles, mobile devices and other electronics. After all, nobody likes energy vampires. That is, electronics that use power even when in standby mode or turned off but still plugged into the wall. This type of energy usage is also called phantom load. It can cost consumers an average of $165 per year, according to one study. And while the savings you’ll achieve for each item you unplug may only come out to cents per month, it all adds up. Plus, every bit of electricity not used helps the environment by not emitting harmful CO2greenhouse gasses.
Shake & (don’t) bake.
If your home feels like an oven on hot days, don’t turn another one on! Instead, choose more energy-efficient options like a pressure cooker, slow cooker, microwave or outdoor grill. They’ll help you cut down on your electricity usage and avoid adding a lot of heat to your kitchen.
And if you do use the oven, make use of the oven light to check on the status of your food. Opening the door lets hot air escape and requires more energy to heat back up to your original temperature.
Throw some clean tennis balls into your dryer to speed up the drying process (and reduce wrinkles and static). You can also use wool dryer balls. Either way, their presence causes more movement and space, letting more heat circulate between items. This is an especially helpful energy-saving trick for bulky items like towels, pillows and blankets.
For an even more energy-efficient way to dry your laundry, try hanging wet items on a clothesline outside. Imagine how quickly they’ll dry in the Texas summer sun!
Cut down on shower hour.
It takes energy to heat all that H2O, so aim for a quick scrub to conserve electricity (and water). A 2016 study lists showers as the second-largest use of water in a household (tied with faucets). The study reports that the average shower lasts around 8 minutes. Can you cut yours down by one minute? By four minutes? Make it a household challenge to see who is the speediest scrubber.
Another way to conserve water is to install low-flow showerheads that contain the Water Sense label. This indicates they use less than 2 gallons of water per minute (gpm). Low-flow showerheads use 20% less water than a standard showerhead, which uses about 2.5 gpm.
Smarten up your home.
Get connected and stay in control of everyday energy usage with smart thermostats, smart plugs and smart light bulbs. These modern products offer ways to control them from afar. For example, you can control them by remote, mobile app or through platforms like Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
Imagine being on vacation and using your phone to adjust the temperature to an efficient setting. Or, turning certain appliances off and switching on outdoor lighting at specified times. Some smart plugs can even show you how much energy a device is using. Meanwhile, others can be connected to your smart doorbell or smart security cameras.
The more, the merrier.
Make energy efficiency a game and let your children get involved by turning off lights, going screen-free and monitoring the thermostat. The benefits are threefold:
- It helps you use less electricity, which can help lower your average electric bill.
- It reminds everyone to be energy aware throughout the day.
- It models positive behaviors that become habits as children grow older.
Too hot to handle?
Did you know that water heater manufacturers typically set the default water temperature to 140°? Your water doesn’t need to be that hot. The U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency recommend a setting of 120°. This will get the job done but also save energy (and prevent scalding).
Note: This is one energy-saving area you don’t want to go overboard with by dropping the temperature below 120°. That’s because lower temperatures can promote microbial growth.
How much can you save by reducing electricity use?
While the tips above probably won’t help you slash your average electricity costs in half, they can have a significant impact. By being more energy efficient in your day-to-day life, you can expect to see your usage decline. Not only will you be helping to tame those summer electric bills, you’ll also be doing something positive for the environment. And there’s no downside to that!
Why has my electricity bill suddenly increased?
Even the most energy-efficient household has probably seen their average electric bill go up in recent months. That’s due in part to current world events, inflation and high demand. The increased price of electricity further shows how important it is to take steps to save energy in your own home.
How can I lower my electricity bill?
In addition to following these energy-saving tips and making small lifestyle choices, you can also look at the big picture to reduce your average electricity costs. Summer is the perfect time to shop and compare electricity plans. Find one that fits your lifestyle and can help you lower your average electric bill. Check out how simple it is to find your perfect energy match with Everything Energy’s free search tools.