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SALT LAKE CITY — Beating the summer heat doesn’t have to drain the bank.
Home cooling accounts for 247 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year in the U.S., a whopping 18 percent of all residential electricity use, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Keeping your utility bills in check over the summer can be challenging, but with a few simple tips and tricks, you can cut costs and get through the summer without burning a hole in your wallet. Read on for some of the best heat-busting hacks.
Keeping cool all summer: Reducing cooling costs
When it comes to summer utility bills, home cooling is almost always the biggest energy consumer, especially for residential homes in the U.S. Nine out of 10 U.S. homes use air conditioners, according to the EIA, and to keep scorching summer temperatures at bay, some homes have to run their air conditioning systems all day long. If you’re looking to cut your summer utility bills, your first priority should be minimizing cooling costs.
- Conduct a pre-summer checkup. Before temperatures reach their peak, carefully inspect your air conditioning system, says Rob Caiello, vice president of marketing at AllConnect, a home utility company. Start by checking all of your vents and filters for dust buildup and make sure everything is thoroughly cleaned. Cooling systems run more efficiently when clear of debris and dust. Be sure to also examine all indoor and outdoor vents for damage, rust or blockages.
- Invest in a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to set timers and schedules for your air conditioning. By programming your thermostat to automatically turn off the air conditioning on cool nights, you’ll ensure you’re not wasting energy when you don’t need to, says the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Keep your empty home warmer. Turn up your thermostat when you’re out of the house. Whether you’re going on a weeklong vacation or just going out for a day trip, turning up your thermostat will greatly reduce how much energy your air conditioning uses.
- Hire a professional. Hiring an air conditioning specialist to conduct a professional inspection can pay for itself in energy savings throughout the summer. A professional can spot potential inefficiencies in hard-to-reach areas like ducts or complex central air systems.
Here comes the sun: Curbing solar heat
The hot summer sun can have a dramatic effect on your home’s temperature. During the hottest parts of the day, letting in too much sun can quickly make your home unbearably hot. You can get more out of your cooling system by keeping the sun’s heat at bay.
- Use window treatments and coverings. Highly reflective window films, awnings, exterior blinds and shutters can prevent solar heat gain in the summer. A cloth awning can reduce solar heat gain by 65 percent to 77 percent on south- and west-facing windows, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Close your blinds. Your windows are the greatest source of heat inflow during the summer. Simply closing interior blinds or drapes can significantly lower the indoor temperature in your home and cut your monthly energy bills by as much as 10 percent to 15 percent, according to Energy Impact Illinois.
- Upgrade your window shades. Blinds with reflective inner surfaces can keep your home even cooler. The smooth, white interiors of these blinds are quite reflective and can effectively keep the sun’s heat out.
Energy eaters: Cutting electricity expenses
Your air conditioning isn’t the only energy-sucking appliance in your home. To reduce your utility bills, consider doing a comprehensive home energy audit to spot other potential sources of energy waste. Your family can adopt a few simple habits to lower energy costs in every room of your home.
- Use large appliances less often. Large appliances use a sizable amount of energy. To cut back on unnecessary energy use, try to run larger and less-frequent loads through your laundry machine and dishwasher.
- Buy more efficient lighting. You can cut costs in your home by replacing incandescent bulbs with newer, more energy-efficient bulbs. If you’re particularly tech-savvy, look for LED bulbs with built-in timers and smartphone connectivity.
- Unplug electronics. Over 29 percent of all electricity use in the U.S. falls into the “other” category, according to the EIA. Unplug items like phone chargers, computers, stereos, televisions and kitchen appliances when not in use.
Cheap thrills: Saving on cable and internet
Your cable and internet bill is a significant chunk of your budget, too. Spend a little time and effort finding the best deals in your area to lower your monthly cable and internet bills.
- Compare providers. Getting the best deals could be as simple as shopping around. Compare the rates and packages for each service in your area and give various providers a call — there may be special deals available that aren’t listed on the website.
- Ask around. Talk to your friends and neighbors about their providers and find out which companies offer the most bang for your buck.
- Cut unwanted channels and streaming services. You can save money by narrowing down the channels you want and eliminating any programming available through streaming services or apps.