HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Rising gasoline prices, inflation and rising summer temperatures could all lead to higher power bills this summer.
“It’s driving up the price of electricity, so anything each of us can do to save a few kilowatt hours of electricity will help us all,” said Nick Comer, external affairs specialist for Touchstone Energy Cooperatives of Kentucky.
Here is a list of recommendations to help you reduce some of the costs of your monthly electricity bill.
1. Check the air conditioning unit
Your air conditioner accounts for 6% of overall energy consumption. It requires regular maintenance to operate efficiently throughout its years of service. Neglecting the necessary maintenance results in poor performance and unnecessarily high energy consumption. Checking the coils, fins, evaporative cooler and heat pump may require the services of a professional.
Replacing the air filter is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to ensure your A/C is working properly and efficiently. Clean or replace your air conditioning system filter every month or two. Clogged and dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce your air conditioner’s ability to absorb heat. Replacing a dirty filter with a clean one can reduce your air conditioner’s energy consumption by up to 15%.
Vacuum the vents regularly to remove any dust buildup, and make sure furniture and other objects aren’t blocking the airflow through your vents. Avoid placing lamps or televisions near your thermostat. The thermostat will sense the heat created by these appliances, which may cause your air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
2. Use the thermostat wisely
Set your thermostat as comfortably as possible in the summer, ideally to 78°F or higher. Each additional degree of cooling will increase energy consumption by 6-8%. Keep your home warmer than normal when your family is at school and at work, and only turn the temperature down when people are home. Avoid turning down the thermostat when the air conditioning is on. It won’t cool your home any faster and can result in wasted energy.
A smart thermostat can facilitate these temperature transitions. Smart thermostats are Wi-Fi enabled devices that automatically adjust your home’s temperature settings for maximum energy efficiency. Smart thermostats remember your habits and preferences and set a schedule that automatically adjusts to energy-saving temperatures when you sleep or are away.
3. Use fans with A/C
Running a fan is much cheaper than running your air conditioning. In fact, running a fan 24/7 for an entire month would only cost about $5 on your electric bill. The airflow creates a wind chill effect that helps people feel more comfortable, but it does nothing to change the temperature. If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to adjust your thermostat setting about 4°F higher with no reduction in comfort. Remember to turn off your fans when you leave the house. With no people around to feel the wind chill effect, the fans don’t do much except slightly increase your energy bill.
4. Close the blinds
Close your blinds or curtains during the day to avoid the greenhouse effect of the sun. South and west facing walls experience the most heat from the sun, so invest in good curtains or blinds for the windows in these walls and keep them closed. North-facing windows admit relatively even natural light, producing little glare and almost no unwanted heat gain in the summer. You can leave these shades open to admit natural light into your home without heating things up.
5. Avoid the oven
Cooking with a conventional oven can add unwanted heat to your home, forcing the air conditioning to work harder. Do more cooking with a microwave or slow cooker to keep the kitchen fresh. Better yet, use the summer heat as an excuse to fire up the old backyard grill.
6. Wash strategically
Washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers all generate a ton of heat. Reduce this by using only cold water to do your laundry. Only wash full loads of dishes and clothes to avoid over-running appliances. Avoid using your dryer altogether. After washing, hang your wet clothes to air dry.
The cold water technique isn’t just for clothes and dishes; you can also use it for your body. It may take some getting used to, but a cold shower can be quick and refreshing during the hot, muggy summer months. Since you are not using as much hot water, you can also lower the temperature of your water heater. According to the US Department of Energy, water heating can account for 14-25% of your total energy consumption. Turning the heat down to the warm setting of 120 degrees Fahrenheit can save a few dollars each month.
7. Opt for LED bulbs
If you’re still using incandescent bulbs, it’s time to switch to LED bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are extremely inefficient. Only about 10-15% of the electricity they use is transformed into light, the rest becomes waste heat. LED lights are the most energy efficient lighting option currently available. They use 75% less energy, last 25 times longer and run much cooler than standard incandescent lamps. They cost a little more upfront, but quickly pay for themselves in energy savings.
8. If not in use, unplug it
From your computer to your toaster, all electronic devices generate heat. Even if it is off, just being plugged in generates a small amount of heat in the wiring. To keep things cool, unplug any electronics you aren’t using. It’s not a lot per device, but add up all the gadgets in your home, and it can make a difference of a few degrees.
9. Seal your home
Insulation isn’t just for the cold winter months. Preventing air leaks is one of the most economical ways to keep warm air out and cool air in. Sealing your home against these leaks is easy, effective, and relatively inexpensive.
Use caulk to seal cracks and openings between fixed objects like door and window frames. Apply weatherstripping around moving objects, such as window frames and the door itself. Be sure to check attics and basements for air leaks, as these areas may have large insulation gaps or missing weatherstripping. Seal small cracks with foam or caulk. For larger holes, you may need to install or replace insulation.
If you’re having trouble paying for your utility, contact the company directly to see if you can set up a payment plan or opt for a budget payment program.
West Virginia help can be found here.
To learn more about Kentucky resources, click here.
Access to Ohio resources can be done by clicking on this link.
Federal government programs can be found at this link.
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