The utility bills you receive after blasting the air conditioner to combat the stifling summer heat may not be pleasant. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the cost of electricity has steadily risen over the last two years.
Courtney Klosterman is a home insight expert with Hippo Insurance. She says that most U.S. homes will be paying high prices for energy this summer due to high energy costs and high temperatures.
You may have greater control than you realize over how much energy you use. Paula Glover is the president of Alliance to Save Energy a non-profit that promotes energy efficiency policies. She estimates that consumers can save up to 20% on their energy bills by changing habits and investing in energy efficient products. She adds that “you have to be diligent .”
Create a baseline
Angie Hicks is the co-founder and owner of Angi.com, a home service information website. She says that before making changes it’s important to determine how much energy your household uses. An energy audit can cost between $200-700 and will give you valuable information on where leaks may be in your house, says Hicks. Find one by searching local listings of home services providers. Some utilities also offer this service free.
Ethan O’Donnell is the digital editor at FamilyHandyman.com – a site about home improvements. He says that in some cases electronics can leak. He says that even though they’re turned off, televisions, appliances, and other electronic devices can still use power. An electricity monitor that costs under $15 can help determine how much.
O’Donnell found that even with the power off, his lamps, phones chargers, and appliances were still using electricity. He unplugged them whenever possible, and estimates he has saved at least $50 per month.
Establish efficient habits
Glover says that simple changes such as adjusting the thermostat, switching off the lights when you leave a room, and closing windows and doors when air conditioning is running can make a big difference. She also suggests installing a thermostat that automatically changes the temperature according to the time of day, the weather and your personal habits.
Hicks recommends closing your window treatments during the day in order to keep heat from entering your house. She also suggests getting your AC system tuned up every season to ensure it is working properly. She also suggests changing your air filters monthly or quarterly to help it perform better.
Hicks believes that small home improvements, like adding or replacing the weatherstripping around windows and doors, will reduce energy usage. If you walk around the house holding a candle, and the flame flickers then that is where your drafts come from. She says that’s an ideal candidate for weatherstripping.
The Energy Department recommends that you replace incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs. These bulbs use 75% less power. Glover explains that while it may seem like a small thing, collectively we can have a huge impact.
Upgrade your appliances
Even though buying new appliances is expensive, it can save you money on energy, particularly if you choose products that are Energy Star certified, which is a program managed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Glover advises that if you own an older appliance, and can afford it, you should upgrade to a more energy efficient model. However, you also need to prioritize home improvements such as improved insulation.
Tackle home improvement projects
Solar panels are a popular choice for homeowners, according to Angi’s State of Home spending in 2022 Survey. 29% plan to install solar panels on their homes within the next 5 years. Another popular option (23%) was to upgrade the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Hicks says that these types of large investments will pay for themselves in the end. He also adds federal tax credits to offset some costs.
Jonathan Flynn is a certified Home Energy Rating System ratingr and senior building analyst at Home Energy Consultants, Pleasant Valley, New York. He says that installing doors to separate zones can improve energy efficiency. He says that one of the biggest flaws with most two-story houses is the stairway leading up, but no doors at the top and bottom.
Flynn, who has an open-plan home, installed the sliding door to prevent energy loss. However, he acknowledges that this might not work for all homeowners. Flynn encourages people to make these changes even if it is not popular.
The Associated Press originally published this article, which was written by NerdWallet.