If you’ve lived in Scottsdale for any length of time, you know your electric bill will skyrocket along with the temperature during the summer. According to the Arizona Public Service Company (APS), the expense of cooling your home can account for up to 70 percent of your electric bill.
You don’t have to live at the mercy of your thermostat; here are ten ways you can reduce your electric bill this summer.
Turn up the thermostat
The easiest way to lower your electric bills is to simply turn up your thermostat. For every degree you raise your thermostat above 80, you can save 2 to 3 percent on cooling costs, according to the Salt River Project (SRP). If you’re able to raise your thermostat by just a few degrees, you can save a significant chunk of money. You can save even more by raising the temperature when you’re away—between 5 to 10 percent according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Modify your plan
Depending on which company you use, you may be able to take advantage of plans that allow you to switch much of your usage to non-peak hours . One such program is the EZ-3 plan, which allows SRP customers to save money by using less electricity during three higher-cost on-peak hours, either 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. or 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The rest of the hours, including weekends and six holidays, are off-peak and priced lower.
Another option is an equalizer plan. While equalizer plans don’t necessarily save you money, assuming you have an established patter of energy consumption, they average out your payments so you are paying the same amount every month, regardless of your consumption.
Most of the heat you feel inside your house comes from the sun shining directly on the roof or through the windows. Block the sun—and the heat—by planting trees around your home. As reported by U.S. News & World Report, shade from two 25-foot tall trees (one on the west side and one on the east) will save a typical house $57 a year in energy costs.
Bonus: If you shade your air conditioner, you could boost your AC’s efficiency by up to 10 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Use your ceiling fan
Air-conditioned rooms cooled by a ceiling fan actually feel 4 degrees cooler than rooms without a ceiling fan. So, by using your ceiling fan, you can turn your thermostat up several degrees without noticing a difference. You’ll want to turn your ceiling fan off when you’re not home since ceiling fans don’t actually cool your home; they just circulate the air and make you feel cooler. While you’re away, the fan is just adding to your electric bill.
If you don’t have ceiling fans in your home, an electric fan can provide the same benefit, allowing you to crank up the thermostat without feeling a difference.
Seal air leaks
Hot outdoor air can seep into your home through leaks, forcing your air-conditioner to work even harder to keep things cool inside. Seal them off with adhesive-backed weather stripping tape or silicone caulking. It’s a simple task once you’ve identified the source of the leaks, but even that is not very difficult. Most leaks will be found in the gaps around doors and windows as well as where plumbing pipes and electrical conduits enter the home.
Ventilate your attic
On a hot summer day, temperatures can exceed 150 degrees in your Scottsdale home. The rooms directly below can be as much as 10 degrees hotter as a result. Consider installing a ventilating fan on your roof that pulls air into the attic and increases circulation. The moving air can reduce attic temperatures and, as a result, your electric bill.
Check your insulation
Another way to prevent hot attic air from heating the rooms directly below is to make sure the attic is properly insulated. Most experts recommend a minimum of 12 inches of fiberglass insulation in the attic floor. If your attic doesn’t have at least 12 inches, you can purchase attic insulation at your local home improvement store. The insulation will come in fiberglass batts that roll out easily between ceiling joists on top of existing attic insulation, so it should be something that the average homeowner can handle.
Not having enough insulation in your walls can also overheat your home and force your air-conditioner to work harder than it should. If you suspect there isn’t enough insulation in your walls, consult with a contractor.
Most homes in Scottsdale will already have solar screens, those dark, mesh-like screens you see covering the windows. Solar screens can reduce up to 70 percent of the solar energy that gets into your home and are particularly effective on east- and west-facing windows, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
To reduce heat from your windows even more, keep blinds and window coverings closed during the day or, at least, during the time of day when the sun directly shines on that window.
Replace your air filters
It’s one of those things we all know we should do but maybe aren’t as consistent as we should be. Not only can dirty filters shorten the life of your air conditioner, but those dirty filters can impede air flow. As a result, your air conditioner will have to work harder and use more electricity.
You may also want to invest in yearly maintenance inspections of your air conditioner. An inspection will ensure that your unit is running properly. If it isn’t, it may require more energy to cool your house and cause your electricity bills to soar.
Don’t bake or cook
Anytime you turn on the oven or the stove, you’re heating the kitchen up and your air conditioner has to work to cool things back off. If at all possible, avoid using either. Instead, do as much cooking as possible in your microwave, and if you have to use the oven to bake a cake, for example, use it in the evening. After you’re done, turn on the kitchen exhaust to draw out the hot air.