How to save on your energy bill for the winter and summer months!
Remember when getting mail was fun? Bills didn’t make you wanna leave the mailbox contents, and slowly walk away. Hoping the scary energy bill wouldn’t notice your acknowledgement?
Yeah, me too.
Getting the mail as a child was such an adventure, you never knew what surprises would be waiting in the ole tin box.
Fast forward to adulthood where mortgages, vehicle payments and never ending utility bills seem to be hiding their usage until the most inconvenient time, only to pop in with a lovely “HERE I AM” bill amount.
I find myself searching frantically once that summer cooling bill comes in, or during winter when those freezing temperature drops make me wonder if the extra blanket would have been better than cranking the heat setting up.
Well, if you are hoping to find some ways to cut costs in a practical manner, you found the right place! I LOVE saving money, as most people do, but I love ideas that disguise my penny-pinching ways to visitors.
You know, ways that I can keep the house cool without just turning the a/c off in the middle of July, only to find a surprise visitor to show up.
When I first started living on my own, it was acceptable to just have a warmer house, open windows and let the fans work their best.
But when I had our first baby, I wanted to have a different approach. Cause a 78 or 80 degree house is not the best conditions for a baby since they are WAY more susceptible to heat exhaustion, and can’t tell you when their head hurts or they are cranky.
So to avoid the uncomfortable, I started googling for ways to save on energy bills. Because who doesn’t like to save money AND make strides to mindful consumption?
Here you are in a similar situation, and I want to simplify the process by sharing 10 energy saving tips you can do to help reduce that high power bill. Let’s get started.
Energy saving tips for winter
The top three areas homes lose energy the most are the windows, according to Live Oaks Agency the top places you are loosing engery are:
1) cracks in the windows and doors (38%)
2) basement walls (20%)
3) windows (16%)
Now I know percentages can be kinda hard to see the relevance or what that means for you. So let me help you break down what that means for your power bill so you can started on reducing energy consumption.
Doors and windows account for a whopping 38% of potential energy lose!
Let’s tackle the cracks in the window and doors theory.
First we will cover the door use because it’s the biggest problem, but easiest fix.
While you may be notice the tiny ⅛ of an inch crack around the door, (unless you are looking for it) the test for cracks is to look at the bottom of your door and see if any lights comes through.
Well, you have air coming in/going out that is part of your temperature controlled area. When I got my first rental as an adult, the backdoor had a HUGE crack, like a good ½ inch. Air was always coming in from outside, causing my electric bill to rise.
So how do fix door cracks? Home improvement stores sell door sealers that come in a roll, with sticky adhesive on one side and a foam side.
Amazon is a great place (of course) to get some energy efficient tools like these Self Adhesive Weather Strips for Doors.
When you open your door you want to look on the threshold and see if any missing pieces are creating the air holes that let in the light.
From earlier we did this look you do want to wash before you add the adhesive because dirt does collect and makes for a not so great merriment.
But once you have the door sealed in you have just saved a great percentage on your electric bill.
Moving on to Windows is the similar concept. But it can get a little bit more in depth with storm windows plastic sealers that are temporary or doing simple weather stripping like we did with the door.
More on this in a second.
Basement walls (and ceilings) can be 20% of energy loss
Now, I moved from Michigan to the south giving me a pretty rounded view of extreme cold and heat and the climate differences.
However, I grew up with a basement that held out a wood burner which helped reduce the amount of cold that came in through the walls.
One surprising thing I have learned in the south is basements are NOT common. The rain, soil and I really do know what other reasons, make basements bad ideas.
While it is said that 3 feet down in the ground is a constant temperature, not all basements are that deep.
Before you skip over this section, thinking it has no application to you, just hold on. Basement’s lose heat not just from walls, but also through the ceiling which makes your household floors that much colder.
A poorly insulated subfloor can cause those cold winter hardwood floors to be a bit harsh for bare feet. While I am NOT an expert on construction or flooring, by any means, I know the power of insulation. Do with that what you will.
Window (specifically) account for 16% of energy loss
Going into greater detail on preparing windows for winter, you need to be aware that glass isnt a great insulator. While it can track sunlight and makes it great for greenhouse, windows are subject to temperature changes.
Ever notice how much colder the window is on windy, winter days?
If you lived in an old farmhouse (like I did) in the harsh winters, you could sometimes hear the window whistling through the cracks which was always the indication it was time to add in winter energy savers like storm windows or plastic sheeting.
We used plastic sheeting that works, but was also a fun treat when spring finally arrived and justified cutting the plastic and opening the windows.
This method is pretty inexpensive and super easy to install, though perhaps not the prettiest when compared to storm windows.
However, you only need a hairdryer to shrink/seal the plastic to the window, whereas storm windows need more installation help.
If you are wondering what I am trying to describe, here is a 10 Window Shrink Film Insulator Kit so you can get an good idea.
Now that we covered how to save on heating, let’s move to saving on your ac bill because while the methods are similar, there are some additional tips worth mentioning.
Let’s recap first, winter energy saver tips include
- Seal doors
- Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic
- Insulate flooring/subflooring to avoid heating loss
Energy saving tips for summer
Summer heat is something I did not understand on quite the same level, until I moved to the south.
Hello to the benefits of the night life that includes fires, grill outs and no bugs after dark!
To combat the head I quickly learned the value of three things; consistent thermostat temperatures, fans, blinds and cooking outside.
Energy saving tips for air conditioners
Because when temperatures hit 110 your air conditioner is only capable of knocking your house down about 20 degrees without putting serious stress on your unit.
Trane Company suggests for every degree above 72 degrees, you can expect a 3% increase in your power bill.
The Direct Energy along with most havoc companies, will concur that 78 is the ideal temperature to rest your unit on.
Additional cooling methods for the summer
If you are trying to cool your house to 60 degrees when it’s 100+ outside, you may need to consider some alternatives to help your unit along.
Try these simple ways to cut down your power bill:
- Adding an oscillating fan to distribute air and keep you cool since it can be pointed in your direction
- Keep blinds closed, with slates facing down, not up. This keeps the sunlight deflected rather than printed up so the sun can still come in.
- Take your cooking outside- with grills, gas stoves, crockpots or whatever you have. Avoid turning on any heat producing elements like your stove, crockpot or cooking appliance during the 10-4pm time frame according to energy start. Because heat is given off from those appliances, making your house that much warmer.
Pro tip: Angle blinds so light continues to deflect down to the ground, instead the other way, causing light (and heat) to come in between the blinds.
Best energy saving tips for summer include:
- Keep thermostat on 78
- Turn on the fans- ceiling or stand alone
- Close blinds facing down, not up
- Take cooking outside as much as possible
Energy saving tips for the home
There are a few ways to save on your power bill throughout the year too, not just seasonal! You can do some small changes that will accumulate over time, helping to reduce energy consumption. Here is a general list of things to try:
- Swap to LED bulbs and save $75-$100 annually according to USAtoday
- Keep furniture away from vents to keep airflow open
- Add curtains to windows, even combine blinds and curtains to reduce heat and drafts
- Use rice warmers for stubborn drafts like back doors, basement doors, windows etc…
Implementing these tips before the peak of winter or summer months will keep your energy usage lower, resulting in mindful consumer habits.
Don’t feel like you have to be freezing or sweating in your own home just to save money, when energy saving hacks can be used.
I know for a while when I moved out on my own, I would suffer modern conviences like heat or ac, unless someone was coming over.
However, there is no need to forgo modern indulgences if you can make simple shifts like cooking outside, or keeping blinds closed during peak heat hours, that will stack up quickly.
P.S. Keep singing into the fan no matter how old you get! It’s the little things in life that make you smile.