PHOENIX — Summer is synonymous with fun in the sun, road tripping and unwinding by the pool. But climbing temperatures also mean higher electric bills — and increased strain on the monthly budget.
"Increased energy use during the summer can cause utility costs to skyrocket, deflating your plans to have fun or relax," says Michael Sullivan, a personal finance consultant with Take Charge America, a national nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency. "With a few simple changes to your routine, you can keep summer costs and stress to a minimum." Sullivan offers several tips to reduce utility costs during the summer months:
1. Keep up with regular HVAC maintenance. Change the filter in your air conditioner once a month and have it inspected annually to identify any wear and tear that could cause performance issues.
2. Adjust your thermostat to meet your needs. When no one is home, consider setting temperatures 7-10 degrees higher. When you are home, set the thermostat at 78-80 degrees to keep comfortable.
3. Close up during the day. Add extra insulation against the heat by closing blinds through the day. On cool nights, open up windows to let in the breeze.
4. Consider running large appliances in the evening. Large appliances put off heat. Running them at night allows your air conditioner to work more efficiently during the day. Some energy companies provide lower rates for off-peak hours, providing guidelines to help you reduce your energy bill.
5. Wash your laundry in cold water and always wash full loads. According to General Electric, between 75 and 90% of your washer’s energy use goes to heating water. Reducing the number of loads you wash – and washing them in cold water – can make a major impact on your monthly bill.
6. Keep oven use to a minimum. Meal prepping and no-cook meals save time, require less energy usage throughout the week and keep your home cooler. You can also grill and cook outside while the weather is nice.
7. Set your water heater to 120 degrees. The default setting on most water heaters is 140 degrees. Turning your heater down 20 degrees is still plenty hot, and it can save 6-10% per year in energy costs according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s also smart to insulate your water heater to prevent heat loss and lower energy use.
8. Seal doors, windows and other openings. Replace damaged or missing weather stripping around doors and windows. Add insulation anywhere your home could be losing energy, such as openings around pipes. This keeps hot air from entering and improves air conditioner efficiency.
For more tips to save money and get out of debt, visit www.takechargeamerica.org or call 866-528-0588.