Tips to Cut Your Summer Utility Bills... Energy-Saving Tips to Cut Summer Cooling Bills

Summer is coming soon, and with many parts of the country already experiencing hot days, the U.S. Department of Energy is offering easy tips to save money and energy while keeping cool. By following a few common sense guidelines, you can cut your summer energy bills by 10 to 50 percent.
box fan A box fan can move cool air through your home. The energy-saving tips cover such topics as wisely using fans and air conditioning, landscaping for energy efficiency, shading your windows and weatherizing your home, as well as other low-cost tips to save energy.

Use Air Conditioning and Fans Wisely

  • Open windows and use portable or ceiling fans instead of operating your air conditioner.
  • Use a fan with your window air conditioner to spread the cool air through your home.
  • Use a programmable thermostat with your air conditioner to adjust the setting warmer at night or when no one is home.
  • Don't place lamps or televisions near your air conditioning thermostat. The heat from these appliances will cause the air conditioner to run longer.
  • Energy Star®
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label. If your air conditioner is old, the new energy efficient models can save you up to 50 percent on your cooling bills.
  • Consider installing a whole house fan or evaporative cooler if appropriate for your climate.

Low Cost Tips to Save Energy

Use compact fluorescent bulbs where ever possible.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents.
  • Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.
  • Use a microwave oven instead of a conventional electric range or oven.
  • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.
  • Plug home electronics, such as televisions and VCRs, into power strips and turn power strips off when equipment is not in use.
  • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater – 115 degrees is comfortable for most uses.
  • Take showers instead of baths to reduce hot water use.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
  • Use cold water to wash your clothes.
  • Landscape for Energy Efficiency

    shrub A shrub can shade a window or air conditioner in summer heat.
    • Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units, but do not block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses less electricity.
    • Grown on trellises, vines such as ivy or grapevines can shade windows or the whole side of a house.
    • Avoid landscaping with lots of unshaded rock, cement or asphalt on the south or west sides – it increases the temperature around the house and radiates heat to the house after the sun has set.
    • Trees whose leaves fall off in the winter, planted on the south and west sides, will keep your house cool in the summer and let the sun warm your home in the winter.
    • Just three trees, properly placed around a house, can save between $100 and $250 annually in cooling and heating costs. Daytime air temperatures can be 3 to 6 degrees cooler in tree-shaded neighborhoods.

    Shade Your Windows

    • Sunny windows can make your air conditioner work two to three times harder.
    • Install white window shades, drapes or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
    • awning Awnings can shade a window in summer heat.
    • Close curtains on south- and west- facing windows during the day.
    • Install awnings on south-facing windows. Because of the angle of the sun, trees, a trellis or a fence will best shade west-facing windows.
    • Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows.
    • If you want to replace your windows, consider the new double-pane windows with spectrally selective coatings.
    • When buying windows or appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR® label.
    • Weatherize