Energy costs continue to climb. It seems that every summer we pay more on our monthly electric bill than we did the year before. In my city, the utility company has already sent notice that rates will rise even more as the summer begins. The summer will arrive soon, so my wife and I have begun implementing strategies that so far have helped us reduce our electric use and bill. We hope these measures will allow us to maintain a manageable bill throughout the summer.
Set the air conditioner a little higher
In Florida, summers can get brutally hot. We may see high 90s every day. In 2011, we ran the air conditioner almost non-stop from mid spring until mid fall, and we hardly ever turned it off. This resulted in electric bills of approximately $300 for the summer months. We decided early this year to set the air conditioner two degrees higher than we did last year.
So far our plan has worked well for the spring. Spring temperatures in our town average in the high 70s to mid 80s, so we do not need the constant cooling during this time. We set this temperature to 78 or even 79 for spring months, and we wear light-colored T-shirts and shorts when inside the house. We had bills closer to $160 rather than $250 that we paid in spring 2011 by doing this.
Opening the windows
We open windows during the fall and spring seasons and let the nice gentle breeze blow through the house rather than running the air conditioner constantly. We even have some winter days with perfect temperatures for opening the windows. If the air is a little too cool, we can always put on a long-sleeve shirt or light sweater and stay just as comfortable. This reduces energy use and lowers our electric bill. In February, March, and April, we saved well over $100 per month just by turning off the air conditioner and opening the windows during the day. We may not get to open them so much during the hot summer, but we will any chance that we get - at least in the mornings and evenings.
Running ceiling fans
I really like ceiling fans. We have one in nearly every room, and we run them all night while we sleep. Doing so lets us set the air conditioner up another degree. Regardless of temperature, I like the air circulating throughout the house. Even a cool room feels stale to me without the fans. We turn the fans down to low power in the cool seasons and medium power in the summer. Running them higher in the summer moves the air more and gives us a constant breeze. We can then set the air conditioner two degrees higher so it does not run as hard to keep us cool. We may save over $50 on our bill by using the fans more and the air conditioner less.
Turn things off or unplug when not in use
This step seems so easy to do that it might not need discussion. However, we have often left things such as the television or computer running thinking that we would return to them very soon. We then get sidetracked into a new activity and forget what we left running. We may leave some lights on without even realizing it. We have started making sure that we turn off what we stop using so it stops drawing power.
We fail in this area the most. We leave things plugged in even though we will not use them for a long time. For instance, we use the DVD player sparingly but leave it plugged in. Many electronics continue to draw a small amount of electricity even when turned off. These may have memories or LCD clocks on them that need constant power. However, unplugging appliances that we use only occasionally will help us reduce overall energy consumption and lower the monthly bill.
How much we can save
Living in Florida, we may see typical electric bills exceeding $250 per month. Those can climb even higher during the summer when we run the air conditioner much more. By reducing the air conditioner use, running ceiling fans more, and controlling the use of our lights and smaller appliances, we can reduce the total amount of electricity that we use and lower our monthly bill.
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