Work and summer activities would typically get you and your family out of the house during the day, allowing the use of programmable thermostats to lessen the load on your A/C unit and save energy.
But if you find yourself working from home this summer, and the kids can’t get outside as often as they used to, how can you keep the house cool while managing energy costs?
Here are some money-saving tips that also keep in mind environmentally friendly practices.
5 Ways to Save Energy In the Summer
1. Balance Light from Artificial and Natural Sources
You can find advice that says in order to reduce energy consumption, you should rely solely on natural light during your workday. But you’ll also hear that on really hot days, you should keep the shades closed to prevent the sun from heating up your house.
So, which one is it?
You can incorporate both strategies for peak efficiency–you just have to get your timing right.
Make good use of morning sunlight before it’s too hot by setting up your workspace next to a window.
Then as you near your lunch break, draw the curtains to block out the most intense hours of sunlight. Have a separate workspace in the cool basement with artificial light, or have a lamp ready to go next to that window workstation.
Bonus: If you have kids at home, the afternoon curtain draw is the perfect time for them to take a nap break. (And magically your productivity increases!)
2. Change Your Light Bulbs
Speaking of artificial light, take some time to look at the light bulbs in your home.
EnergyStar estimates that around 60% of bulbs in the average home are inefficient and could be replaced by LEDs. LED bulbs are 90% more efficient than traditional bulbs and well worth the upgrade in overall savings.
Plus, it’s easy to find them in a variety of color temperatures, so you can pick the mood that fits your space.
3. Cook Smarter
More families are cooking at home because of stay-at-home orders and reduced restaurant capacity due to social distancing practices. While this is already a money-saver in most cases, you can also conserve energy by limiting the number of times you open the fridge and/or oven while preparing your meals.
Take advantage of pressure cookers, slow cookers, and toaster ovens for smaller baking and toasting tasks. These appliances save time, keep the house cool, and save energy compared to a large conventional oven.
4. Clean Efficiently
With kids at home, they can be doing their share of laundry and dishes. But make sure they aren’t wasting energy in the process.
Aim for washing and drying only full loads of laundry, since running appliances at maximum capacity increase their energy efficiency. You can also avoid heating up the house with the dryer by hanging clothes outside on the line when the weather permits.
Also, make use of your dishwasher. It may give off some heat while it’s running, but it’s worth the trade-off compared to the energy consumed when handwashing dishes. Just make sure you’re only running it when it’s full to enjoy optimal efficiency.
5. Check Your Fans
Fans are a low-cost way to keep a space cool and comfortable. They create a “wind chill” effect inside the home, allowing you to keep the A/C at a higher temperature while you feel the same cooling effect. According to Energy.gov, with the use of a ceiling fan, you can comfortably increase the A/C by as much as 4°F.
Just make sure the fan is spinning in the optimal direction. During the heat of summer, you want the fan’s blades to spin counter-clockwise to avoid forcing hot air down into the room.
It’s also important to keep your fan clean of dust and cobwebs, both for efficiency and to prevent issues with allergies.