Summer is finally here and for many families it means counting on two things: hotter weather and significantly higher energy bills.
It still surprises me that so many people seem to be caught off guard by this every year. While it is true that the summer heat is unavoidable, escaping higher electricity costs isn’t. There are simple, quick and easy steps you can take to shave costs off of your energy bill, which means extra $$ in your pocket for summer fun!
For those of us who live in apartments or homes without central air conditioning — and that includes me — the first and most important step is to attach a timer to each window air conditioning unit. Does that sound complicated? It isn’t. The timers are inexpensive and can be purchased at any home center. The hardest thing about installation is that you have to actually read the instructions.
All air conditioners have a three pronged plug, so when you purchase the timer, make sure it has a three pronged receiver. Installation is as simple as unplugging the air conditioning unit from the outlet, connecting it to the timer box and then simply plugging the timer box into the wall. READ the instructions, because you have to set the timer before you plug it in.
These timers are great. Once programmed, they will automatically turn the air conditioners on or off according to your needs. The units can be set to start before your alarm clock rings in the morning – so your home is cool when you wake up – and then later so that your home is comfortable before you walk in after a long day at work.
Another easy way of saving on energy and money is by changing ALL your light bulbs to Energy Efficiency ones. About a year ago, my girlfriend Anna and I were sipping Mimosas at her home in Long Island, N.Y. when she mentioned that her electric bill was outrageous and she couldn’t understand why. I took a walk around her house and realized that all her fixtures were lit by incandescent light bulbs which were often left on by her two small children. After some convincing we found ourselves in front of the bulb aisle at the local Lowes. In all we spent a bit over $100 on light bulbs and about $120 on sensors. It then took us about two hours to replace all the light bulbs and install the new sensors.
Two months later I received a call from a very excited Anna informing me that her most recent bill was over $100 less than the month before. It is now a year later and the savings have been substantial.
Here are some additional steps you can take at home for long term energy conservation and savings:
- Install heavy blinds or other window coverings that adequately block the sun to help prevent your home from heating up.
- Add fire retardant pads – available at your local home store – inside your electrical outlet to prevent air seeping in or out.
- Add a timer to your fish tank light to conserve energy and cut down on fungus growth.
- Plug Leaks: Make sure the accordion sleeve on the air conditioner is fully extended and covering all openings. If it is not fully extended, or you see any leaks, make sure you seal them with foam. Also, check the door jam on all exterior doors and on windows. To stop air flow from coming in or going out, plug any leaks with foam.
- Inspect the windows, walls and ceilings in your basement to make sure there are no air leaks coming in from outside or going up through floors into your home. Plug any leaks and insulate your basement ceiling if necessary – it does not cost much and you will make it back with reduced energy bills.
- Chimney: If you have a chimney make sure the vent is closed in the summer so you do not lose cool air through it.
No more excuses! If you want to stretch that dollar, you need to find the time to adjust your lifestyle at home.