Some Options to Consider:
Turn your Thermostat up. By keeping your home at 78 degrees vs. 70 degrees, you can cut air conditioning costs nearly in half. To save even more, try setting your thermostat a few degrees higher when expecting to be out of your home for an extended period of time. Programmable thermostats, which can be bought for a few hundred dollars, make this process easier by following a schedule based on your personal preferences, and can ultimately save you up to 20 percent of your electrical usage.
Use Ceiling Fans. If turning the thermostat up to 78 degrees sounds drastic, try using ceiling fans to lower the temperature of your house by three to five degrees.
Keep Windows and Drapes closed. Since sun streaming through windows accounts for about 50 percent of the heat that enters a house, closing windows and drapes are efficient ways to reduce the amount of money spent on cooling. With less heat coming in, there is less of a need for air conditioning to run.
Turn off the Lights. Most people do not realize that the average American spends 15 percent of his or her electric bills on the costs of lighting his or her houses. Lights give off heat and use electricity, so try turning lights off when you leave a room for a cooler home and a cheaper electricity bill.
Be creative when Cooking. To avoid heating up your home, try using your kitchen appliances less and barbecuing and outdoor eating more. To avoid the unwanted air conditioning costs that accompany the heat produced by ovens, switch your cooking style to outdoor grilling, or even use a slow cooker. Also, rather than thawing food in the microwave, take advantage of the summer heat, a method that does not generate electricity or cost you money.
Unplug, unplug, unplug. Many appliances consume power, even when not in use. Since many devices are not designed to save power when turned off yet plugged in, make sure to unplug gaming devices, hairdryers, toaster ovens, etc., when not in use. Another way to conserve energy is to stagger the timing of keeping devices or appliances plugged in, such as washing clothes and dishes at night, when the air conditioning is not using as much energy.
Perform routine maintenance on Air Filters. Replacing or cleaning your air filters monthly can save you as much as 10 percent on your electric bill by not restricting air flow, thus allowing your air unit to work more efficiently.
Get to know your Utilities' "Time of Use Plans." Understanding what plans your Utilities provide allows you to schedule high energy activities on off-peak hours. There are also payment plans that allow for budget billing to be spread out more evenly over the course of the year.
Though investments do have a cost, the following investment options have a relatively short payback time, which occurs when the savings on your electrical expenses surpass your initial investment cost.
Invest in Shade Screens. Though these screens can be pricey, possibly costing over $300 per window, you should keep in mind that 50 percent of the heat that enters your home comes in through your windows. Placing these screens on the windows on the Southside of your home, or those that are often in the sun, will repay your investment before you know it.
Plant Shade Trees. While some people choose to plant trees for their beauty, others plant trees for the monetary benefits these trees can provide. After shade-bearing trees reach maturity, they enable you to save up to $50 per year on electrical expenses, by blocking some of the heat from entering your home. Many utilities have programs that support the planting of these trees with minimal costs.
Replace that old Refrigerator or Freezer. Replacing an old refrigerator or freezer with a new, more efficient one can decrease your electric bill by $40 a month. Some of these new appliances even show energy usage on the label, so you can calculate what your savings and payback period will be, prior to buying the fridge or freezer. Along the same lines, for those with swimming pools, investing in a more efficient pool pump can also save a similar amount of money per month.
Install weather stripping. Even when houses are well constructed, with cold and heat expansion and contraction, a house can start to create small gaps on windows and doors over time, where heat can enter. Either weather stripping or caulking will solve this problem, two options that are attainable at low costs.
Give your Home an Energy Check-up. Almost all Utilities offer a home energy audit for a nominal charge, often around $100 per audit. Going through your home with an expert can be beneficial for seeking out energy inefficiencies and their solutions.
Switch to Fluorescent light bulbs. Last but not least, when a bulb burns out, investigate these more efficient florescent bulbs, which have a slightly higher cost but burn cooler and last longer.
Here is the Bottom Line.
Energy inefficiencies can result from a variety of factors, but luckily, many have easy fixes. By trying a few of these ideas, even if you save just $1 per day, imagine all you could do with that extra $365 per year. Try a few more of these simple ideas and who knows how much you can save.