Energy tips can trim summer cooling bills

By Brandy Hodge

Summer is upon us. The largest part of your energy bill is your heating and cooling systems. With the rising costs of living, here are a few tips that can save your wallet during the summer months.

Air conditioner: According to the Department of Energy, setting your thermostat at 78 degrees in the summer can save you up to 10% in energy costs each year. Every degree of extra cooling will increase energy usage 6 to 8%. Regular maintenance of the unit is required to function efficiently.

Having a professional check your unit or checking the unit yourself by examining the coils, fins, evaporative cooler and heat pump can save big money on costly repairs. Replacing your air filter is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can ensure your unit runs smoothly and efficiently. Replacing a dirty filter can lower your unit’s usage up to 15%.

Cooking: Cooking with a conventional oven can add unwanted heat to your home forcing your air conditioner to work harder. Use a microwave, slow cooker, or air fryer to keep the kitchen cool. Outdoor grilling is another option to keep unwanted heat indoors.

Fans: Running a fan is much cheaper than running your air conditioner. A fan is cheap and effective, especially one with an Energy Star rating. Fans can circulate air and cool down rooms. Fans do not produce cold air. Ceiling fans are another great option. Ceiling fans can raise your thermostat four degrees. This can lower your electricity bills without sacrificing overall comfort.

Laundry: Washing machines and clothes dryers generate a lot of heat indoors. Use cold water for everyday laundry and only use hot water for extra dirty loads. Wash full loads only. Air dry your clothes inside or on a clothes line outside. Be sure to clean your lint filter on your dryer after each load.

Lighting: Replace incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. LED bulbs can be up to seven times more energy efficient than conventional lights, last 25 times longer and cut energy use by more than 80%.

Water: Use less water by taking shorter, cooler showers. Install low-flow shower heads as they use a third less water. Run the dishwasher only when its full. Fix leaky faucets. Thirty drops per minute equals 50 gallons a month. Install low-flow aerators on faucets. Fix running toilets and/or install high efficiency toilet to save 16,500 gallons of water per year.

Unplug: All electronics generate heat and use energy. If you are not using a device, unplug it. Check around your home to see what items are plugged in such as toasters, printers, hair dryers, etc. All the devices add up overtime on your total energy costs.

Summer months can lead to very high energy bills. Many utility companies offer payment arrangements for large past due balances. Each utility company has different guidelines; therefore, you must you’re your utility provider directly to learn what options may be available.

Brandy Hodge is Communications, Administration and Outreach manager at the Johnson County Department of Aging & Human Services