In Texas, you know it’s summer when you’re still sweating after the sun goes down. Yes, it really gets that hot here. Hence, you can probably guess what’s the number one appliance in your home that makes your energy bill go up: the air conditioner. This single appliance is single-handedly responsible for why your energy bill is higher during the summer.
That’s why we’ve compiled 8 of our best energy-saving tips for summer. Our goal is to give your AC a much-needed rest while making sure you aren’t too sweaty. We go beyond “turn your thermostat up” and tell you our cleverest tricks for keeping your house cool amidst the Texas heat while staving off monster electric bills.
Isn’t that what we all want at the end of the day?
1. Change Your Air Filter Once a Month
This is the easiest thing you can do to lower your energy bill. A dirty filter causes the air to move slower, which makes your HVAC system work harder than it has to. It also helps prevent dust buildup in your system, which can lead to even bigger problems like your AC going out in August. Yikes.
This is why we suggest changing your air filter every 30 days, even though every 2-3 months is technically fine. Just note that it will lead to a higher electricity bill. We recommend buying your filters in bulk so you always have some around when you need a new one. Your bill and AC unit will thank you.
2. Use These Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
For this tip, you’ll need a programmable thermostat. We know what you’re thinking: that sounds like a lot of money. In reality, they’re super affordable, starting at $20 for a very effective model. Yes, you could dole out $250 for the Google Nest Learning Thermostat, which is the best thermostat on the market in 2020. But if you’re looking for simple programming functions, the basic one from your local hardware store will work just fine.
When you do install that new model, we encourage the following thermostat settings:
- Summer: 75° F during the day if people are home and at night when people are asleep
- Summer: 80° F during the day if no one is home
Yes, this might seem extreme at first, but if you work toward those parameters slowly and keep your family’s comfort in mind, you’ll see savings through these recommended temperatures.
3. Fans are Your Friend
Ceiling fans, tower fans and desk fans are the trick to making you feel cooler than you actually are. The fan pushes the air across your skin, helping cool you so you don’t need to keep your HVAC cranked all the time. This will also help you gradually work your way to those above summer temperature settings without feeling uncomfortable.
4. Only Use Your Oven If You Have to
Not only does your oven use a lot of energy to heat up, but it also makes your house hotter, which makes your AC work more. We recommend using your oven only when necessary and swap it out for more energy-efficient appliances in your house:
- Microwave: The ultimate energy saver, it heats up your food without creating much hot air in the process.
- Toaster Oven: Essentially a mini oven, but it uses much less energy and creates less heat because of its size.
- Air Fryer: A mini convection oven, it circulates hot air on the inside rapidly to evenly cook food — and crisp it up.
- Instant Pot: This slow cooker/pressure cooker is perfect for slow-braised stews and meats you would otherwise bake for hours on end in the oven.
5. Cook Outside
Texas summers and backyard cookouts go hand-in-hand. It’s the perfect energy-saving method of cooking — you aren’t heating up your house, and you’re not using energy.
Please note that charcoal and propane do release carbon emissions. So, you should keep that in mind when tracking your carbon footprint.
6. Look for Air Leaks and Replace the Weatherstripping
You could do a professional inspection, but that costs extra money. Instead, look for drafts yourself to save money, and it’s pretty easy. Dampen your hand and wave it slowly in front of common leak sites, including:
- Wiring holes
- Recessed lights
If your hand feels cool (i.e. the air is evaporating the water), then you’ve found a leak. This is likely because your weatherstripping is old. Luckily, it’s super inexpensive to replace and install by yourself. Your local hardware store will most likely sell any type of weatherstripping you need. This simple fix can save you up to 30% in energy costs from space conditioning.1
7. Seal Your Fireplace with a Chimney Balloon
Your fireplace is one of the few things in your home you can’t really weatherstrip. Instead, use a chimney balloon. This is a heat-reactive plastic balloon that inflates to seal the opening of your fireplace when the chimney isn’t in use. If you forget it’s there and light a fire when winter arrives, the balloon will automatically deflate since it’s heat-reactive.
8. Install an insulated box to seal your attic
While you can use weatherstripping to seal your attic, the most effective way to do this is through an attic box. This is essentially a removable piece of insulation that covers the attic opening. You can build one or buy one premade.
These tips are focused on saving money by helping your air conditioning do less work, but we’ve got tips on how to use less electricity and save money for just about everything, from refrigerators to washing machines. We’ve linked a few of our favorite tips to save energy (and money) below, so we encourage you to check them out!
- What Uses the Most Electricity in Your Home? Let’s Examine Your Appliances
- How to Save on Your Electric Bill: 9 Simple Steps to Energy Excellence
- Help the Environment & Your Electric Bill: 30 Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient