When people hear that a big storm is coming into their town, it’s a common phenomenon for grocery stores to see a deluge of customers, heading straight for nonperishable necessities. It’s human nature to try and be prepared, but many people don’t even consider getting prepped for the hot days of summer and the high home energy bills that come with it. By making some adjustments to a house, a homeowner can see a significant dip in their monthly bill compared to the last year’s.
An important first step is to make sure that the main culprit of the high bill, the air conditioner, is running as efficiently as possible. Make sure that it is not leaking fluid and consider getting it serviced. If the unit isn’t running at full capacity, it could be staying on for longer amounts of time, meaning higher usage and a higher bill.
If your air conditioner is in good condition, there are several extra steps that you can take to combat the heat, at least indoors.
The first way that a house can be outfitted against the weather is with the sealing of windows and outside doors. Sal Vaglica, a writer for This Old House Magazine, recommends that window weatherproofing can be maximized by “pressing adhesive-backed closed-cell foam on the bottom of the sash.” He also advises to secure loose sashes by applying a “strip of V-channel weather-stripping in the groove the sash slides in” and then to secure that with finish nails. For doors, he recommends placing foam strips around the frame of the door (Vaglica, 2017). This keeps drafts of hot air from entering a home and forces the cold “bought” air to stay inside.
Gary Foreman, a Fox Business writer, also has a few suggestions for reducing summer bills. While he recommends applying window tint, which some window-tint manufacturer’s claim can reduce bills by up to 30%, a less permanent and perhaps more visually appealing solution would be to simply close curtains during sunny days. Although the sunlight naturally brightens up the room, it brings with it a lot of heat, and that works against the efforts of an A/C unit.
The second tip Foreman gives is to try and reduce the amount of cooking that is occurring indoors. During the winter, the heat that radiated from the kitchen oven was a pleasant feeling, creating a cozy ambiance. The same cannot be said of the oven in the summer time. The heat that the oven creates spills into the home, negating the efforts of the air conditioner. Foreman recommends utilizing alternative cooking appliances, like an outside grill. On rainy days, tabletop grills and slow cookers create much less heat than an oven and still get food cooked.
A third solution arrives in formatting of your water heater to handle the summer temps. If a water heater is in the living area of a house, the Fox Business writer recommends the purchase of an insulated blanket, which can be found at “any local home center.” The blanket can be wrapped around the heater, and it keeps any hot air “from escaping, [which reduces] the amount of time the water heater runs, which will save [the homeowner] money. In addition, the blanket prevents hot air from being released into the room. It’s a twofer! (Foreman, 2016)”
Lastly, homeowners should make sure that they are replacing their air conditioning filters monthly. Foreman also suggests clearing “away any bushes that could be blocking airflow” to the air conditioner.
The quickest way to see a drop in a power bill, however, is to raise the thermostat up a degree or two. Although it isn’t necessarily comfortable, it might be less stress inducing than seeing a large bill at the end of the month can be.
If you’re not sure which of these tips can be applied to your home, Orange County REMC offers free Energy Audits to its members. An energy adviser will drive out to your home for free, and perform several tests, including a blower door test, and complete an inspection report. A detailed report will be delivered on the changes that can be fulfilled to make your home more energy efficient. Call (812) 865-2229 or toll free at (888) 337-5900 to schedule an Energy Audit, or visit Orange County REMC’s website to learn more.
Foreman, G. (2016, January 11). Renter’s Tips for Reducing Summer Cooling Bills. Retrieved from Fox Business: https://www.foxbusiness.com/features/renters-tips-for-reducing-summer-cooling-bills
Vaglica, S. (2017, August). Button Up Your House For Fall. Retrieved from ThisOldHouse.com: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/button-your-house-fall