Keep Cool

And Save Money This Summer

by Sean McGahy // July - August - September 2022

The summer season is a time for outings, vacations, and cookouts with the ones you love. However, it is also the time of year when your energy bills skyrocket. But the hotter months don’t mean that extreme energy costs have to burn a hole in your wallet. Here are nine ways to help you save your hard-earned cash this summer.

1. Replace A/C with running ceiling fans: I know some of you think this is crazy, especially in North Carolina’s sweltering summer heat. But once you realize that ceiling fans use only a tiny fraction of the energy that a central air conditioner does – approximately only 1.6% of it – you may want to give this cooling route a whirl. You’d have to run a ceiling fan for approximately 100 hours in order to use the same amount of energy you do to run your A/C for just one hour. While fans don’t actually lower the temperature in the room they are in, they can make that room feel up to eight degrees cooler than it actually is simply by circulating the air. This makes them efficient and cost-effective substitutes, saving you up to 40% on your energy bill.

2. Change your air filters: Dirty air filters restrict airflow through your air conditioner, and that costs you money. In fact, dirty air filters can increase your cooling expenses by up to 15% every month. HVAC specialists advise checking your air filter every month, and replacing it every three to four months as needed. Doing this will help you hold on to your cash at the end of the month, as well as in the long run if it helps you avoid having to prematurely replace your home’s cooling system.

3. Be strict with your thermostat: A surprising number of people don’t know how to set their thermostat properly. They either set it far too low to cool their homes faster, or they allow their home’s temperature to swing wildly by shutting their system off completely during inopportune times. The best way to set your thermostat is at your ideal temperature, and let your system do the work to get there. Setting it cooler will not get it there any faster. Likewise, do not turn your system off entirely when you leave. This will lead to longer and more expensive cooling cycles when you return. Instead, set your thermostat three to four degrees higher, which will shorten cooling times and save energy.

4. Disconnect devices that are not in use: Before you step out of your house, unplug the devices you won’t be using while you’re gone. Even though something might be in the “off” setting, many of these devices still use power while they are shut down. This is often referred to as “standby” or “vampire” power, and this will still accumulate and show up on your monthly electric bill. Having a few of these devices adds up fairly quickly.

5. Spend time outside: Summer is the best time of year to go outside and enjoy the fresh air. Warm temps offer a great opportunity to enjoy nature, take in a music festival, go to a restaurant and sit on the patio, or even head to a local park to enjoy a picnic. It’s also a perfect time to enjoy beach days or fishing trips, or take that trip abroad you’ve been dreaming about. The more time you spend outside, the less time you will spend inside, burning through electricity that will show up on your monthly bill.

6. Start a garden: Nature has a great way of protecting itself from harsh sunlight while also benefitting from this sunlight greatly. Trees and shrubs provide shade that blocks light and heat from reaching your home where it increases your indoor temperatures. A home positioned under shady trees and shrubs can keep it cool and increase your A/C unit’s efficiency by roughly 10%. Start a garden today, and within a few short years, you’ll be enjoying the benefits of natural shade.

7. Limit your water use: Did you know that 18% of the electricity used in the average home is dedicated to water heating? Creating hot water requires a pretty sizeable amount of energy, and that adds up quickly. Laundry cycles and long showers can be costly for this reason. Be sure to always fill your washing machine as much as you can to save hot water. Likewise, limit hot showers to just a few minutes.

8. Avoid peak hour consumption: Avoiding what the electric companies call “peak hours” is important when it comes to cutting costs. Peak hours are when demand on the grid is at its highest, and the limited supply mixed with the high demand makes prices skyrocket during these periods. Generally, these occur between the hours of 4:00 PM and 9:00 PM. By limiting your usage to early in the day or very late at night, you can avoid paying premium power prices.

9. Cover windows during the heat of the day: The sun pelts your home with a ton of energy every day, and this energy is often carried into your home through windows. When the temperature outside soars, your windows may be allowing this heat inside. Covering your windows may block out some of the light, but it will also block out a lot of the heat that could otherwise be sapping away the energy your air conditioner is using.

Sean McGahy

Owner of Zar Electric. Zar Electric, residential, commercial, and pool electricians, is always “On the job, doin’ the job, gettin’ the job done right!”