You already know this in Texas. This summer is hot and getting hotter, and when the temperature goes up, your power usage tends to follow as you adjust the air conditioner to keep from baking.
However, we’ve got some tips for staying cool this summer – not just in Texas – while keeping your electricity usage under control.
Use your ceiling fans
“Ceiling fans create a wind chill effect, allowing you to adjust thermostat settings by 4-7 degrees F (up to 30% savings!) and still remain comfortable,” according to Richard Ciresi, franchise owner of Aire Serv, a heating and air conditioning installation and repair company. However, you need to make sure that the fan is flowing in the right direction. It should turn counterclockwise during the summer to push the cool air down. Another way to tell if it’s spinning in the right direction is to just stand under it and see if you feel the cool air. (Note: in the winter, you should turn the fan clockwise to help circulate the heat.)
”However, you should turn fans off when you leave the room, since fans don’t cool the room, they only cool you when you’re in the room,” Ciresi explains.
Turn the water heater down
Did you know that your water heater can bump up your energy costs? “Hot water can burn up as much as 18% of your energy budget,” Ciresi says. Most people probably set the water heater temperature to 140 degrees, but he recommends that you set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and promises that you’ll still have plenty of hot water.
Check the thermostat
“If your programmable thermostat is allowing the temperature in your home to rise while you’re at work, it is most likely trying to recover during the hottest part of the day,” Ciresi says. And this can increase your utility bill. During hot weather in particular, he says you should set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature and then just leave the thermostat alone. “Additionally, this constant change in temperature is not good for furnishings, art, or musical instruments,” he says.
Energy efficient lighting upgrades can also lighten your energy bills. “Lighting accounts for up to 12% of your energy budget, and those old school incandescents give off 90% of their energy as heat, taking a toll on the AC,” Ciresi explains. “Replace those bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) that use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer) or LEDs that use 80% less energy and last 25 times longer, for substantial savings.”
Know your humidity level
“High humidity levels – above 50% – actually make you feel warmer than the air temperature,” Ciresi says. High humidity can also contribute to mold. On the other hand, lower humidity levels can allow you to be comfortable at temperatures that are slightly higher – even up to 78 degrees. “Being comfortable at these higher temperatures will be a big savings on energy costs.”
So how would you know if your humidity level is too high? “Check for a source like a leaking basement, roof, or plumbing fixture,” Ciresi says. “You may need to a call an air conditioning professional who can determine the cause and provide a solution.”
Look to Mother Nature
Your landscaping can also help you reduce energy costs. “Trees and shrubs can help shield your house from the sun during the summer months, ultimately reducing your energy costs.” For the best results, plant deciduous trees and shrubs (which means they’ll lose their leaves in the fall). “Contact your area landscaping specialist to uncover ways to efficiently place them,” Ciresi says.
Even if you follow all the above tips, conditions can be unbearable. Make sure you’re getting the most bang – and best rates – for your electricity bucks if you live in a state such as Texas with energy choice. Enter your ZIP code above to find low rates from trusted providers.
Check out our #TexasCool page for fun facts and opinions about the Lone Star State. And Texas residents shouldn’t forget to enter our weekly contest, where one winner will receive $300 to go toward summer electricity bills. Check out our official contest rules and our daily Top 5 lists on the #TexasCool page.