8 Minute Read
Summertime, for most people, typically means family vacations, neighborhood barbecues and frequent trips to the pool. But what people don’t often talk about during this season of sunshine is the dread they feel before opening their mailbox (or inbox) during those hot summer months.
Sure, you’ve been doing your best to stick to your budget. You’ve even exiled your kids to the yard to play in the sprinkler most days (did someone say free fun?). But that doesn’t mean you can’t save money in other areas. You guessed it . . . we’re talking about the electric bill.
Check out these summer saving tips on how to lower your electric bill and still beat the heat this summer season.
Do an Electricity Audit
The word audit doesn’t sound like much fun, but if you think saving money is fun, you’ll have a blast. For the best (and most thorough) electricity audit, you might want to call in an expert from your local electric company. The best part: A lot of electric companies offer this service for free!
You can expect most local professionals to interview you about what you’re looking to accomplish and what concerns you might have. They’ll run tests, inspect your home for air leaks and check the quality of your insulation. Then, they’ll give you their best recommendations on how you can fix any glaring issues.
Ready to start saving? Download our free budgeting tool today!
But if you’re the handy type, you might consider doing an audit yourself using a simple online audit tool.
Sounds like more unnecessary dollar signs, right? Don’t worry. Just make sure you budget for any home improvements you need to make (with your zero-based budget). Then, sit back and watch that electric bill go down month after month.
Turn Off the Lights
Sounds simple, right? For many families, forgetting to turn off the lights is already a topic of . . . conversation (to put it lightly).
But there’s good reason: Keeping the lights on when they’re not in use is a real drain on your electricity—and your budget. But most likely, you already knew that.
Get in the habit of turning on the light only for the room you’re currently using. And if it’s sunny, use that natural sunlight to your advantage. Not only is it easy on the eyes, it’s free!
Change Your Lightbulbs
You may have rolled your eyes at your spouse when they brought home those new, energy-saving lightbulbs. A lightbulb is a lightbulb, right? Wrong.
Your partner in crime knows what they’re talking about. While these bulbs will cost a bit more upfront, you can save big bucks (over time) just by switching out the lightbulbs in your home! (Talk about saving money the easy way!)
Next time you’re at your favorite home improvement store, take a hard right turn down that lighting aisle and stock up on compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
Look for the green Energy Star logo when you’re shopping. It’s the government symbol for energy-efficient products. A typical Energy Star-certified CFL lightbulb will pay for itself in energy savings in less than nine months. After that, it’ll continue to save you money each month!1
If you think that’s good, check out those LEDs! Most LED lights use only 20–25% of the energy of those old incandescent lights and last 15–25 times longer!2 Say what?!
Check for Air Leaks
Are your windows whistling? Do you hear air coming in from under the front door on windy days? Do your doors seal shut when you close them? Is your fireplace damper working properly? Hopefully, you discovered a few of these easy-to-miss energy wasters when you did your energy audit.
Listen, it may sound lame, but keeping your windows, doors and appliances sealed properly makes a big difference . . . especially in the peak heat of summer.
If you have doors and windows that aren’t sealed properly, you’re letting warm air in and that cool air out. When you’ve got an air leak in your home, you might as well have a leak in your wallet.
Air sealing your home is a cheap and easy money saver! Pick up some weather strips for your doors and windows. You’ll also need some caulk to seal those leaky areas in your plumbing, air ducts and wiring.3 For weather strips, caulk and a caulk gun, you’ll spend less than $15 to save up to 20% on your energy costs. Talk about a return on investment!
Shut the Door
You probably remember it well as a kid. You were having the best summer ever, racing in and out of the backdoor playing with the neighbor kids. After a few times in and out, your mom would shout, “Were you born in a barn? Close the door!” Ah, sweet childhood memories.
Your mom had a point. Keeping the outside doors open while the A/C unit—or furnace—is running is a very bad idea. Not only are you letting that precious (and expensive), cool air escape, you’re also making your unit run harder for longer.
Just visualize your precious dollars sailing out the door . . . right alongside your coveted cool air. Yikes.
Program Your Thermostat
Ugh! It sounds like a hassle, if you ask us. When you wake up, you change the thermostat. Before you go to sleep, you change the thermostat. But hassle or not, there’s no denying the fact that it will save you money.
If it’s in the budget, purchase a programmable or smart thermostat. Not only will it save you the hassle of remembering to turn the temperature up or down morning and night, but they’re also not that expensive (depending on the brand, of course)!
Don’t worry. There are many programmable thermostats that start at $20.
If you love your technology, invest in a smart thermostat. These savvy devices allow you to change the temperature of your home from your smart phone.
And some devices even have a little something called geofencing (fancy). Geofencing uses your smart phone’s location to track when you’re home and adjusts your temperature automatically. This definitely isn’t your grandma’s thermostat.
Don’t Run Your Appliances Unless They’re Full
Yep. We’re talking about your washer and dryer. If your kid comes home with super dirty/smelly/stained britches (you know the ones), you might be tempted to go ahead and wash those (in your hazmat suit) on their own. Believe it or not, one of the biggest ways to waste money over time is running your washing machine for just a few pieces of clothing! There are two ways to reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes: using less water (fewer loads) and using cold or tap water.4
When it comes to the dryer, the same rules apply. Don’t use the dryer on anything but a full load, and make sure not to overdry. You’ll want to dry similar items at the same time. There’s nothing more obnoxious than spending two hours drying your towels and T-shirts and finding out your towels aren’t even remotely close to dry. Pro tip: Use the automatic cycle over any timed settings to make sure those moisture sensors do their job.
And if you really want to lower your electric bill, try cutting out the dryer altogether, and line dry your clothes—just like grandma used to do.
Check Phantom Energy
No, we’re not talking about ghosts here. We’re talking about phantom energy—a little something that happens when appliances use up energy, even when they’re turned off!
Yep, you might want to start unplugging those devices and appliances when you’re not using them. You’ll be surprised at how much money you save just by pulling the plug. Phantom energy costs the average family up to $100 per year on their electric bill.5
Ask About Discounts and Incentives
We all love a good discount, right? Any good electric company knows the pain you’re feeling when you press send on that eCheck every month. Check with your local electric company to see if there are any discounts available.
Some companies even give discounts for going paperless. Others might give you rebates based on any kinds of energy-saving home improvements you do to your home. Not only that, when you sign up for newsletters, they share regular information on how you can save even more.
Ready to start your audit? We thought so. To keep track of your budget and new saving habits, check out EveryDollar. It’s the world’s best budgeting tool. And get this—it’s free!