For all of us who have spent at least a year in Florida, we know that summer comes with the contradictory wardrobe of flip flops, tank tops, shorts, and giant sweatshirts. The nuclear levels of heat and humidity suggest wearing as little as possible, but every enclosed space in the state spends the summer fighting an endless battle against the heat by manufacturing artificial winter. The temperature difference between interior and exterior spaces typically swings thirty or even forty degrees.
The cool blast of air conditioning comes as a welcome relief after sweating in the sweltering sun, but for those of us who end up footing the bill, we see that the cost of the constructed cold can be overwhelming.
Beyond draining our weekend funds, the amount of energy we use every summer is taxing to the environment as well. So to save the planet and your pocketbook this summer, here are ten simple ways to cut down the electricity bill:
- Turn down for what
Probably the easiest and most effective way to drastically reduce energy use is to turn the air conditioner off or up when we’re not at home. No one wants to come home to a warm house, but your heart will be warmed when you see your electric bill. The inside of your home will stay cooler than you might think, and not running the air conditioner in the summer, or heat in the winter, while no one is home can save you hundreds of dollars each month.
One extremely simple task that takes only a few seconds and could help us all save some extra cash for summer shenanigans is so simple that it’s often forgotten. Unplug things before you leave! Our lives are inundated with technology, and with that overtaking of devices come countless cords, plugs, and charging stations. Not only do these drain electricity, but they generate heat when they are plugged in. Try condensing some of those to a few power strips, and then turn off the power when you’re not using them, or simply unplug your chargers when you are done with them. You’ll be surprised how much electricity you will save.
- Turn the lights off, carry me home
Growing up, my dad seemed to be constantly reminding us to turn the lights off when we leave a room. At the time it was frustrating, but now that the utility bill comes to me, I continue to remind myself to turn off those lights. Not only does turning lights off save electricity, it also keeps the house temperature lower so that your cooling costs are reduced.
- Don’t let the door hit you on your way out
In addition to turning the lights off when you leave a room, try to close the door behind you. Your air conditioner is working hard to keep your whole house cool, so give it a break and close some doors. Breaking up the spaces in your home will keep the rooms cooler without using as much energy.
- Throw some shade
Another simple way to keep your house cooler during oppressive summer heat waves is to hang some blackout curtains in your home. While you’re away, the curtains will block the sun and heat, keeping your home cooler all day. An added bonus is they can be quite fashionable.
- Make like a college kid and cook less
Summer is a wonderful time to turn off the oven and enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, or maybe try your hand at making sushi. Using your oven will heat up your home and force your air conditioner to work harder. Take advantage of the seasonal produce and keep your kitchen cool.
Kick it old school this summer and turn on a fan! The house will stay cooler, and the moving air is a pleasant change from the constant AC blasting. They work particularly well in small spaces. You can pretend you’re in a convertible, or sailing on a yacht, either of which you could possibly afford if you use a fan instead of the air conditioner.
- Light it up
The light bulbs in your home are often an overlooked culprit in the case of excessive energy. Switching your light bulbs from incandescent to LED can cut energy costs by almost 75%. They cost a bit more up front, but if you replace all of the primarily used lights in your home with LED bulbs, you are guaranteed to see a lower electricity bill right away.
- Change the filter
Your air conditioning unit itself should be kept in prime working condition in order to maximize energy saving. Simply taking five minutes to change the filter could improve the efficiency of your AC unit by fifteen percent. Getting a new unit is also a wise investment if you own an older home, and will lead to major long term savings on your electricity bills. Another piece of advice is to have someone check your air conditioner before the summer temperatures fully set in. It should help you avoid the unplanned sauna day in your living room.
- Air out the dirty laundry
The appliance which uses the most energy in your home, on average, is your refrigerator. The second most energy hungry appliance is your dryer. Take advantage of that Florida sun and dry your clothes outside! Your dryer won’t heat up the house while it is running, and the only thing that you have to worry about shrinking is your utility bill.