How to cut utility bills is obvious in the winter, but in the summer not so much.
You can’t turn on the wood-burning fireplace, throw on blankets and sweaters, and sip on bottomless cups of instant hot chocolate.
So what’s a sweating, sunburned homeowner in Michigan to do?
Here are five simple questions that will help you cut utility bills this summer.
- I am out of town this weekend. Does that create any opportunities to save money?
Yes, weekend warrior. Yes. As you pack your bags to hit the road for the weekend, consider a quick stop at your thermostat. That’s right, you don’t have to leave the air conditioner running while you’re gone. Ideally you can set it to 85 degrees, according to the Consumer Energy Center. The air conditioner and home for that matter will be just fine.
“Set your thermostat to automatically shut off the AC when you’re away,” writes U.S. News & World Report. “To keep the sun from heating your rooms, close the blinds.”
- I just finished a load of laundry that rivals most minor league baseball teams. Should I just throw it all in the dryer, even if it takes a few cycles?
Absolutely not, Mr. Clean. Think natural. Take your pile of assorted Old Navy v-necks and walk out the door. If you have an outdoor clothes line, great. If not, create your own version of one. Sure, it will take a little longer to dry, but the savings from cutting your utility bills will be worth it, and your clothes will have that fresh natural scent.
- I have a cool ceiling fan that came with the house, and a vintage box fan, and one of those oscillating fans, and one of those cheap handheld fans that barely sprays you with mist. Can these do anything for me?
Okay, you’re a fan collector. Wonderful. I am not a fan. Seriously, fans can come in handy, though, as a way to cut utility bills. Your first option is turning on the fans and opening up the windows to cool down the house without the air conditioner on.
Another option is to use ceiling fans in conjunction with air conditioning, but remember to turn off the fan when you leave the room. “If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort,” according to Energy Star.
- When I get home from work, I want to be done with watering flowers for the evening. Is it okay to water when I want?
It is best to be flexible in your watering schedule. Watering plants during the warm and sunny part of the day will maximize the water you lose to evaporation. Then your water bill goes up. So alter your spray and your time of day to reduce evaporation. Then cut your utility bill.
“You can reduce water loss from evaporation by using a coarse, low-pressure spray and by watering during cool and quiet evenings or early in the mornings,” writes Joe Julian, a Colorado State University Cooperative Extension agent.
- The previous homeowner installed some rolled batt fiberglass insulation in the attic. Will that suffice with the AC on all the time?
It is good that you have some form of insulation in your attic, but fiberglass batts isn’t the best option for your energy savings and comfort. If your attic isn’t air sealed, the cool air in your home won’t stay that long, making the air conditioner run constantly to continue cooling the air. This could mean much higher electricity bills during the warm summer months.
“Foam insulation in your attic is a great investment for homeowners,” said Eric Garcia, General Manager at RetroFoam of Michigan. “Not only does it insulate but also expands to fill every crack and crevice in the attic, providing an air seal to keep your home more cool in the summer and warm in the winter.”
What ways have you found to cut utility bills in the summer?