Energy-saving tips for a more efficient summer

June 29, 2016

Summer is finally here! While the long days, abundant sunshine and warm evenings make this many people's favorite time of the year, it can also be one of the most challenging periods in terms of energy efficiency. In the summer heat, homes lose cool air faster, air conditioners have to work harder and pool pumps and sprinklers are active more often, causing energy loads – and bills – to skyrocket.

Luckily, there are a number of simple habits homeowners can adopt to manage their summertime energy usage. Here are a few to get you started:  

Keep your kitchen cool
For many people, the stove is a staple for home cooking. However, even turning on the element for a few minutes can radiate heat throughout your kitchen, forcing your air conditioner to fight even harder. Instead of firing up the stove, try using you microwave whenever possible. Not only does it contain heat much better than a stove-top element, but it can cook food using two-thirds less energy, according to the California Energy Commission's Consumer Energy Center. 

Not only is it important to keep excess heat out of your kitchen, but you should also take steps to keep cool air where it belongs. Every time you open your refrigerator, cold air spills out, raising the temperature inside and triggering the cooling mechanism once again. To limit the amount of cold air that escapes when you go looking for food, the CEC recommends keeping your fridge stocked up. Full shelves hold in air better than empty ones, keeping the fridge from burning extra energy as it cools itself over and over.  

Use your thermostat wisely
When the heat starts to get oppressive, it's tempting to crank the air conditioning up higher than we need to. Try keeping your thermostat set above 75 degrees when you're home. According to the CEC, for every degree above 72 you set your thermostat, you can save 1 percent to 3 percent on your energy costs. 

If this still feels too warm, consider also using ceiling or whole-house fans to keep cool. Running a fan will allow you to set your thermostat up to 4 degrees warmer without any reduction in comfort, reported Energy.gov.

Using fans allows you to set your thermostat higher without sacrificing comfort. Using fans allows you to set your thermostat higher without sacrificing comfort.

Protect your windows
While south-facing windows might help reduce your heating bills during the winter, they can have the opposite effect when the summer sun beams down. Equip sun-blocking window coverings to keep sunny rooms cool during the day. Also make sure your windows and doors are properly sealed so you can keep the cool air inside. Use caulk to seal cracks and keep your temperatures down. 

These are just a few of the more basic strategies you can use to keep your home energy bills down during the summer. For more specific details about how you can boost your energy savings, consider an energy audit.