By Gene Wang, CEO of People Power
As summer heats up, chances are your energy bills are feeling the heat too.
Luckily there are a few simple and affordable things you can do to lower your energy bills – and help conserve energy as well. Here are five of the most cost-effective ways to prepare your home for the rising temperatures.
Use an energy efficiency app
When you get your electricity bill each month, do you fully understand what you’re paying for? You may be consuming more than you realize. Vampire energy, the term referring to the electricity many gadgets and appliances use just by being plugged in (even if they’re switched off), is taking a major bite out of your wallet. Many electronic products consume standby energy, and most are connected devices like television entertainment centers, charging systems and the like. The Presence app, combined with inexpensive Monster-brand controllable smart plugs, help consumers reduce standby power and better monitor energy consumption throughout the home- all from a smartphone.
Presence also allows user to turn appliances on and off anywhere. Instead of leaving the window air conditioner on all day, you can turn it on when you’re leaving work to precool your home. You can even set up rules within Presence to intelligently automate your home power consumption, for instance, ‘When it’s 10 p.m. turn the TV entertainment center off and when it’s 6 a.m. turn it on.’ It may not seem like a lot, but these savings do add up over time.
Make small changes
Don’t underestimate the value of upgrading small things around your home. Replacing your most frequently used light bulbs with Energy Star™ certified bulbs will save money over time. These bulbs use less energy and last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs. You should also change the air filter in your air conditioner every 30 days. The dirtier the filter is, the harder the unit has to work. Refrigerators also run more efficiently when the coils are kept clean. Another easy fix is making sure all the doors and windows are properly sealed – imagine all the cold air that’s leaking out of those nooks and crannies.
Don’t forget about supply and demand
Energy prices are highest during the times that most people are using energy. According the Xcel Energy, in the summer, electricity use usually peaks between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., largely because of air conditioner use. As a result, that is the worst time to run appliances unnecessarily. Save tasks like running the dishwasher and doing laundry for early in the morning or later in the evening when costs are lower can bring large savings.
Set your thermostat a little higher
According to National Grid, a house set to 75 degrees costs about 18% more than a house set to 78 degrees. So set your thermostat as high as you can handle and use ceiling and portable fans to circulate air. On cool nights, open your windows and use fans to draw the cold air inside.
Save on your water bill too
Conserving water can be done year round by taking short showers, turning off faucets when not in use, and only doing full loads of laundry. In the summer, water your lawn later in the evening or early in the morning to prevent water loss to evaporation (imagine how little water is reaching your plants when its 100 degrees outside) and only water the lawn when it needs it instead of setting up automatic sprinklers. You should also turn the hose off when washing your car.
The H2O Tracker app can help you see how much water your household uses every day, offers tips to help reduce your energy consumption, and lets you see your water usage in gallons and dollars. The app incorporates an element of fun by rewarding points and prizes for answering water saving trivia questions. If you live in a drought affected area, the app can also help determine how long to run your sprinklers and show the drought restrictions for certain areas.
Saving money on your utilities this summer doesn’t have to cost you big bucks. By focusing on a few inexpensive changes and upgrades you can make to your home, you’re sure to see lower bills even as the temperatures rise.