Summer can be a time when it is difficult to conserve energy. When the mercury rises, it can be tempting to crank up the A/C. But there are ways you can reduce your energy bills, reduce greenhouse gases, and lower the likelihood of summer blackouts, by being conscious of our energy use. Summer is actually one of the best seasons to save. Here are some easy ways to cut your energy use, while enjoying the summer season:
- Dress like you’re on vacay: The lesser you wear, the higher you can set your thermostat (aim for 25 degrees), and the more energy you can save.
- Get grilling: Barbecuing outdoors avoids heating up your kitchen (which often causes us to blast the AC).
- Entertain outdoors: Why dine indoors (and use extra lighting and AC), when you could dine in the backyard?
- Join the fan club: A ceiling fan saves you a lot of money by maximizing air circulation. Paired with open windows or screen doors, fans allow you to restrict your energy-guzzling AC to just the hottest days.
- Garden strategically: Plant deciduous trees and shrubs against the south and west sides of your home. During the summer, the leafy foliage shades against solar heat, while in the winter, bare branches let warm sunlight into your home. As shade trees grow, so will your energy savings. For example, three big shade trees will cut as much as $250 off your annual energy bill.
- Add a storm door: Today’s airtight; all-season doors don’t require storm doors. But consider adding one anyway. Why? Having the option allows you to open your home to cross-breezes. If all you’ve got is an all-season door, air conditioning is your default.
- Improve the energy efficiency of your central air conditioning system: Book a start-of-the-season tune up and maintenance session.
- If you’ve got a window air conditioning unit, improve its energy efficiency: Clean the filter. Once a season is mandatory. Have pets? Opt for weekly maintenance.
- Trade the old for the new (er): If your home has an ancient in-window air conditioning unit, upgrade to a new (or even just newer) model. The efficiency of in-window room air conditioners improved 47% between the 1970s and the 1990s. Whether you upgrade to a brand-new, Energy-Star rated unit, or even a not so new find, you’ll still improve the efficiency of your hand me down unit by half.
- Dry your laundry outdoors: Line drying uses zero energy, your laundry smells fantastic, and putting up and taking down laundry provides exercise.
- Set your outdoor security lights on motion sensor settings: That way they come on only when needed. This makes them greater deterrents and lesser energy thieves
- Draw curtains and shades: Even if you enjoy the view during your morning cup of coffee, draw your shades before leaving for the day to protect against solar heat. (If you have cats or dogs that enjoy looking outdoors, this isn’t an option, but it’s easy to install window film).
- Mow it old school: Why use a gas or electricity sucking power mower when you could push a quiet reel mower? Today’s models don’t even need blade sharpening.
- Get unplugged: Even when turned off, many appliances suck small amounts of energy that can really add up. Get your home electronics-computers, TVs, stereo system, Wi-Fi, PVR, DVD player, anything you don’t need to have on 24-7-onto power bars and turn them off at night, and especially when you leave on summer vacation.
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