How I'm Fighting High Summer Energy Bills

by J. Freeman


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The steps I took to reducing my summer energy bills were quite practical and easy for anyone to follow. Most of us have bad energy-using habits at home that add up eventually. The trick is to practice these following procedures and to use common sense during times of possible energy shortages.

Step One: A Cool Home Starts with the Inhabitants

I found that I could manage my energy costs the best in my sunny southern Californian home by first thinking of my habits. I dressed in very light, thin, and breathable clothes, drank more fluids than normal, and reduced my consumption of alcohol and caffeine (these two dehydrate you!).

Solution: By adopting better habits, I didn't feel like I needed two fans in a room, have my air conditioner on an arctic chill setting, or generally feel miserable during the worst of the heat waves.

Step Two: Beat the Heat, Not Your Wallet

To properly put it, our homes are no use to us while we're not there; so why treat them like there's constantly someone inside that has to enjoy the comfort of 70 degree temperature?

I hadn't realized how much I saved on my cooling bill until the end of last summer. Before I kept the air conditioner on 70 degrees all day during the worst heat waves, hoping that I could enjoy the luxury of coming home from work to an oasis of cool air. That luxury, however, cost me quite a pretty penny. If I had known before that having the air conditioner on at 70 as opposed to 78 almost doubles your cooling bill, I would have definitely just waited for my house to cool down when I came home.

Solution: While you're away keep, your air conditioner on either 80 or 85. Then, when you come home, put it on 78. Every degree counts!

Step Three: Let There Be Light ... Cheaper, Energy-Efficient Light

A bold statement by Energy Star estimates that the act of every household in the US changing one light fixture to a fluorescent bulb is equivalent to taking one million cars off the road. Do I have your attention?

The more I learned about fluorescent lighting, the more I was swayed to change every fixture in my house to one. This is an even more practical move for the summer considering these bulbs burn cooler than incandescent bulbs.

Solution: Invest in fluorescent lighting. They last the life of about eight incandescent bulbs, use 66% less energy, and cost between $3 to $13 each. What more could I ask for?

Step Four: Think of Your Home as a Cave, Not a Greenhouse

Simply put, draw the shades during the day. By allowing sunlight in through the glass of a closed window, heat is let into your house but not allowed out. Imagine your home as cool dark cave and not a greenhouse that makes you feel like your baking.

Solution: Invest in shades, curtains, and drapes for every room in your home. White works the best too because it's the most reflective while still looking stylish.

Lowering your summer energy bill doesn't necessarily mean making yourself feel uncomfortable during the changing temperatures; I learned the hard way to change my energy consumption habits, but you don't have to!

There are many other smaller tasks you can do to eliminate excesses energy costs during the summer. The preceding steps are just an essential starting point.

Take the Next Step:

  • Dress appropriately for the heat. Make sure that you're well hydrated.
  • Check air conditioner product reviews at Cheapism.com before making a purchasing decision.
  • Subscribe to our weekly "Surviving Tough Times" newsletter by sending an email. This free html newsletter will provide ways to survive in this challenging economy. Each issue features nine articles to help you stretch your dollar!
  • Check out these Energy Saving Tools from Gaiam.

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