Spring and Summer Energy-Saving Tips

If you’ve lived through a Texas summer, you know about heat on a whole different level from the rest of the country. You also likely know how easily your electricity bill can spike during the warmer seasons. However, with a few smart choices, you can reduce your electricity bill while keeping your family comfortable and cool all spring and summer long. Check out these spring and summer energy-saving tips.

Spring

Spring in Texas can sometimes feel like summer. But with the right practices, you can keep your home cool while minimizing your energy bill. Follow these tips to keep your home comfortable and your energy use low.

1. Reduce Your Air Conditioning Use

In the spring, you can reduce your air conditioning use by opening your windows for ventilation at night when temperatures are at their coolest. As temperatures rise during the day, close your windows and window coverings to keep heat out and cool air in.

2. Invest in Awnings and Window Coverings

Strategic window coverings and treatments can reduce heat intake from the sun and the loss of cool air during the day. During the spring, the sun sits slightly lower in the sky. This means your south- and west-facing windows are especially vulnerable to direct sunlight, which can quickly make your home feel unbearably warm. Window awnings can cut solar heat gain by up to 77% on west-facing windows and 65% on south-facing windows. Blinds and drapes with tightly woven fabrics and a highly reflective backing can deflect sunlight to prevent heat gain by 33-45%.

3. Use Energy-Efficient Lighting 

Since the sun sets earlier in the spring, you’ll probably spend more time with your lights on. Use energy-efficient LED bulbs to cut your lighting cost by up to $75 a year. These bulbs also produce far less heat than incandescent bulbs, so you won’t have to run your air conditioning quite as much.

4. Upgrade Your Insulation

Spring is the perfect time to upgrade the insulation in your home. High-quality insulation prevents heat from seeping indoors and forcing your air conditioner to work harder. A well-insulated and well-sealed house requires significantly less energy to remain cool. The Department of Energy has a Home Energy Saver tool that can help you decide where to place insulation and what types of insulation to use.

Summer

In Texas, summer temperature extremes require almost constant air conditioning, especially if your home isn’t as energy efficient as it could be. However, your home can still serve as an oasis in the summer heat without eating away at your finances. Use these tips to keep your home cool and comfortable until the summer heat breaks.

1. Master Your Thermostat

Modern programmable thermostats can cut your electricity bill by carefully controlling your home’s cooling system. Keep your thermostat set as close to the outside ambient temperature as you can to minimize your air conditioning use. Also, keep any lights or appliances away from your thermostat to avoid an inaccurate temperature reading, which can cause your air conditioning to run longer than necessary. You can also program your thermostat to raise the temperature when you’re not at home or at night when outside temperatures are low. If you come home to a warm house, don’t turn the thermostat down all the way; you won’t cool your home down faster, and you’ll most likely waste energy by overcooling your home.

2. Minimize Airflow

Cool air can quickly escape from your home through doors, windows, and other small gaps. Minimizing the loss of cool air and the infiltration of warm air can make a considerable difference in your home’s efficiency, especially during the summer. To maintain your home’s thermal envelope, use caulk to seal up any gaps and install weather-stripping around windows and doors to further increase efficiency.

3. Use a Ceiling Fan

  A ceiling fan can make an air-conditioned room feel up to four degrees cooler. This cooling effect allows you to turn up your thermostat and save even more energy. However, cooling by convection only affects your perceived temperature and not the actual ambient air temperature in the room. In other words, you’ll feel cool when in the same room as the fan, but the overall temperature of your home will not change. So, remember to turn off your fans when you leave a room.

4. Reduce Your Appliance Use

Minimizing your appliance use may seem like an obvious way to reduce your electricity bill, but doing so can also keep your home cooler. Appliances like computers, hair dryers, and stereos produce a moderate amount of heat; dishwashers and ovens produce even more. To keep your home cooler, consider cooking outside or using a microwave on hot days. To reduce your electricity usage even more, try to fill your dishwasher and washing machine completely each time you use them, and if possible, wait to run them at night when temperatures are lower. Use cold water to wash clothing; water heating is a major energy consumer, even in the summer. Also, consider upgrading appliances to Energy Star alternatives that use electricity just as frugally as you do.

5. Keep Your Central Air Well Maintained

During a long Texas summer, your central air system will run often. It’s important to maintain your system to keep it running as efficiently as possible. Any money you spend on maintenance may be offset by your energy savings down the road. You can accomplish some tasks on your own. Simply replacing a clogged air filter can improve air conditioning efficiency by as much as 15%. Regularly vacuuming any dust from the registers on your system and moving furniture away from vents can further improve your air conditioner’s efficiency.  

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By practicing these simple techniques, you can cool your home and reduce your energy bill without making any major changes to your lifestyle. Managing your home’s airflow and heat gain and reducing your appliance usage can go a long way towards improving your home’s energy use. How are you planning on keeping your family cool this summer? Did we miss any tips or tricks for beating the Texas heat without using any energy at all?

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