How to Lower Your Electric Bills in the Summer with 3 Expert Tips
There was a day in June this year when the high temperatures in our part of Northern California got up to 110 degrees—two days before summer even officially started. Simply put, where we live the summers are long. The hottest months, statistically speaking, are in late July and early August, but it’s not unheard of for us to record those impossibly high temperatures in June and September as well.
With so many hot days, homeowners in Northern California are often forced to run their AC excessively—and AC isn’t cheap. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but running your air conditioner too much can really hike up your electric bill. As a result, a lot of you folks tend to ask me how to lower your electric bills in the summer. One way to do it is to become immune to 110-degree temperatures, but since that’s not a physically plausible option, I usually give more practical advice.
There are easy ways to manage and maintain your HVAC system that will make a big dent in your cooling costs during long summers in Northern California. These involve your thermostat, ducts, insulation, windows, and annual maintenance. The end result is practically guaranteed: lower electric bills. Are there three more glorious words in the English language? Well, maybe “working air conditioner.” Here are my three expert tips on how to save money on your electric bill this summer.
Expert Tip #1: Lower Your Summer Electric Bill by Sealing up Leaky Ducts
The most important thing to remember when trying to figure out how to lower your summer electric bills is that you can probably be running your air conditioner less without living in a sweltering home. You just have to make sure your air conditioner is optimized. One of the chief ways to do this is to ensure that all of the cool air that your AC is generating is actually making it into your home. I’ve talked in the past about the importance of sealing and maintaining your home’s HVAC ducts, but it’s worth reiterating in the midst of this long summer.
Since your ducts bring the cool air from your AC into your home, running through your attic, basement, and walls, if they get holes, the cooled air from your unit might end up in those unused spaces, rather than in the rooms you spend your time in.
Basically, all kinds of things can cause leaks in your ducts, including small animals, age of your ductwork, and debris that gets in your HVAC system because of lack of proper cleaning and maintenance. Since your ducts bring the cool air from your AC into your home, running through your attic, basement, and walls, if they get holes, the cooled air from your unit might end up in those unused spaces, rather than in the rooms you spend your time in. When this happens, your air conditioner has to run for longer periods of time to keep up with your requested temperature, using unnecessary electricity to keep your house cool. A trained HVAC professional can find any problem areas in your leaky ducts and seal them, which in our climate is an investment worth making.
Expert Tip #2: Investing in Windows and Insulation Lowers Your Electric Bills
Leaky ducts are not the only reason that your AC unit might be working more than necessary: cool air may also be escaping through your walls, ceiling, and windows. Those parts of your home may not seem like they have much bearing on the efficiency of your HVAC system, but, trust me, they really do.
To lower your electric bill during the long summer, you want to ensure that things like updated insulation and energy efficient double pane windows are features of your home as they create a barrier between the hot air outside and your pleasant, conditioned air inside.
Upgrading to the best replacement windows for your unique Northern California home and adding insulation to existing walls are both important when it comes to making sure that cold air is not seeping out of your house. To lower your electric bill during the long summer, you want to ensure that things like updated insulation and energy efficient double pane windows are features of your home as they create a barrier between the hot air outside and your pleasant, conditioned air inside.
Basically, you don’t want air to be able to easily pass through walls and windows as it will force you to have to run your AC longer to compensate. Simply put, energy efficient windows save money—big time.
Expert Tip #3: Lower Your Electric Bills in Summer by Managing Your Thermostat
Another smart way to save money on your cooling bill this summer is to learn how to manage your thermostat better. Luckily for all of us, the U.S. Department of Energy has actually put out a set of guidelines for operating your thermostat more efficiently. Their advice includes:
- Set your thermostat as high as is comfortably possible. The less difference between the air outside and your air inside, the lower your bill will be.
- Keep your house warmer than usual when you’re out and about, and then lower it to about 78 degrees when you get home.
- Keep your thermostat, and the rest of your cooling system, running efficiently by having a trained HVAC professional perform regular maintenance on it. As I’ve talked about in the past, regular HVAC maintenance can help you beat the heat. Many HVAC professionals can set you up on a schedule for annual maintenance check-ups, so that you don’t have to take time out of your busy life to call for one.
The easiest way to tackle high electric bills in the summer, though, is to have a trained HVAC professional install a smart thermostat for your HVAC system. This technology allows you to control your thermostat from a smartphone or tablet so you can make sure it’s not running excessively when you’re out, or exceeding the amount of power you want to expend while you’re at home.
The easiest way to tackle high electric bills in the summer, though, is to have a trained HVAC professional install a smart thermostat for your HVAC system.
So, yes, in a place like Northern California where temperatures can climb to 110 degrees before summer has even officially started, the hot months can take a big chunk out of your bank account. There are, however, ways to beat the heat and lower your summer electric bills without suffering.
I personally recommend investing in a visit from a trained HVAC professional, one who can make sure your ducts are properly sealed, your insulation and windows are top-notch, and that you have a smart thermostat installed to make it as easy as possible to manage your system in an energy efficient way. You’re going to be hot during these long summer months, but you don’t have to also be steamed when your bill comes.
Lower your electric bill during this long Northern California summer. Contact the trained professionals at Bell Brothers to start now.
Image courtesy Unsplash user Annie Spratt