Hot summer weather can also mean skyrocketing energy bills. Thankfully, there are many easy ways to save money and reduce your carbon emissions while still staying cool. Whether you’re interested in quick, low-cost solutions or ready to invest in renewable energy, there are steps anyone can take to conserve energy this summer.
Make use of natural light
Making use of natural light limits your need for artificial lighting during the day and reduces your energy consumption.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Letting in light from north- and south-facing windows is particularly beneficial, as they produce less glare and unwanted heat gain than east- and west-facing windows. (1)
Check your AC unit and fans
One easy way to make sure your air conditioning unit and fans are running efficiently and expending less energy is to regularly clean and maintain them.
Dirty air filters can obstruct airflow and make your cooling system less efficient. In fact, the DOE reports that replacing dirty or clogged air filters can decrease your air conditioner’s energy use by up to 15%. (2)
Conducting heating and cooling system inspections twice a year and regularly replacing your air filters will help reduce your energy usage.
Another way to reduce cooling costs is to use fans throughout your house, as they create a wind chill effect that circulates air and keeps your family more comfortable. You can also check that your ceiling fan is rotating counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter to optimize airflow. (3) The counterclockwise rotation forces cool air down when you want to keep cool, while the clockwise rotation draws cool air up to stay warm.
Most ceiling fans have a switch on the motor underneath the fan blades that allows you to easily change settings.
Lower your water temperature
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that most households keep their water heater thermostats at 120 F year-round to conserve energy, prevent scalding and reduce corrosion and mineral buildup in pipes and water heaters. (4)
Keeping your water heater at 120 F is easier in the hot summer months when your family might not want very hot water for showers anyway. Plus, it can reduce the cost of heating water for tasks like running the dishwasher or washing machine.
Seal cracks in your home
Cool air can escape through small crevices in your home, making your air conditioner work harder to keep your home cool and raising your energy bills. In the winter, hot air escapes to the same effect.
One easy way to prevent air leaks is to caulk and weatherstrip windows, doors and openings for plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring. You can also use a foam sealant to seal larger cracks or gaps around windows or baseboards.
You can have an HVAC or weatherization expert conduct an energy efficiency audit on your home to identify areas that are leaking air and seal them.
Dry clothes on a line
Summer is the best time of year to dry your clothes on a line instead of using your dryer. Not only do dryers generate heat in your home, increasing the need for air conditioning, but they use a significant amount of energy in the process. (5)
If you do use your dryer, make sure to regularly clean the lint filter, use lower heat settings and only run full loads.
Make use of solar energy
A home solar panel system can reduce your energy bill and dependence on traditional energy sources. Some homeowners with solar save thousands of dollars in energy bills over the lifespan of their solar panels*.
Although solar panels can pay for themselves over time, purchasing a renewable energy system is still a large upfront investment. If you’re not quite ready to commit to a solar energy system, you can still lower your energy bill with smaller solar enhancements like solar landscape lighting, tube lighting, water heaters and carports.
Solar landscape lighting
If you’re new to solar, solar landscape lighting is a great place to start. Most home improvement stores sell a variety of landscape lighting with small solar panels on top that capture and store solar energy for use at night.
You can purchase solar landscaping lighting to illuminate walkways, driveways, patios and other outdoor spaces around your home for a relatively low upfront cost. Plus, you’ll decrease your energy consumption and potentially save money.
Solar tube lighting
Solar tube lighting is a low-tech, affordable way to maximize indoor lighting while lowering energy costs. Solar tubes are available at most home improvement stores and consist of a dome, reflective tubing and diffuser. The dome captures sunlight that travels through the reflective tubing and through the diffuser, which naturally illuminates the room during the day.
Solar water heater
Solar water heaters use direct sunlight to heat collector panels and warm your household’s water supply. Unlike solar panels, which convert sunlight to electricity, solar water heaters are low-tech and simply channel the sun’s heat in an optimal way to heat water.
According to the DOE, a solar water heater can decrease your water heating costs by up to 80%. (6)
A solar carport doubles as both covered parking for your vehicle and a solar energy system. Although solar carports are more expensive than small solar solutions like landscape lighting and tube lighting, they can easily pay for themselves through energy savings over time.
That being said, a rooftop solar panel system is easier to install and generally cheaper per watt than a solar carport. You can speak with an ADT solar representative to learn more about installing solar panels and how much you can save.
Frequently asked questions
To avoid expending unnecessary energy while you’re away on vacation, set your thermostat up (if it’s hot outside), close your blinds, unplug appliances and electronics and turn off all lights. (7)
Conserving energy does not necessarily mean you have to sacrifice comfort. Weatherstripping and sealing cracks in your home, regularly changing your AC unit filters, making use of natural light and using solar energy are just some of the ways you can conserve energy in the summer months while staying cool. You can also use a programmable thermostat (also known as a smart thermostat) to schedule thermostat settings during the day.
Swapping traditional incandescent light bulbs for LED light bulbs can save the average household $225 in electricity bills annually. (8) LED light bulbs last 25 times as long as incandescent bulbs and use up to 90% less electricity. (9)
Even if you aren’t purchasing new, energy star certified appliances, you can use less energy while cooking by using small cooking appliances and microwaves when possible, boiling water with a kettle instead of on the stove, using cold water from the tap and covering pots while cooking. (10)