Summer is just around the corner, and that means, in some areas, air conditioners. In my house it also means more people home from school every day, so electronics like the TV are being used more, and, sometimes, more lights are being left on in rooms that are not in use. Energy bills rise often rise in the summer, and that can be a real budget buster.
If you want to save money on your energy bills this summer, you might try some of the following:
Outside the Home
You can actually improve the energy efficiency of your home by the way you landscape your yard. Some moves, such as choosing native plants, will help you save on watering costs. However, you can also improve your home’s energy efficiency by planting a tree near the window to provide shade, or bushes in front of lower windows.
You can also put awnings over windows, or change the tilt of a patio umbrella to help shade the windows. It may cost money initially, but over the years, these actions can help you save money on energy bills. If you are really feeling extreme, you can actually paint your roof white to deflect some of the sun’s heat from your home.
Inside the House
There are some things you can do inside the house to help keep the heat out as well. Plugging air leaks around doors, windows and electrical outlets also help keep heat out and cool air in — it’s not just for improving your home’s ability to hold in heat during the winter. Extra insulation in the walls and energy efficient windows all help in the summer as well as the winter. It’s a great way to save on utilities year round.
You can also improve matters by closing the blinds. It will keep the sun from beating in and warming up the house. If you want a little natural light, you can leave the blinds open part way, or you can take a couple of minutes to close the blinds where the sun shines in during the morning, and then switch in the evening.
If you have a downstairs, you can spend more time downstairs during the summer. That way, you won’t need to crank your air conditioner so high. Turn the air conditioner off at night, and open the windows to let in the cooler night air. Once you get up in the morning, close the windows and run fans instead of the air conditioner, and you are more likely to last longer in the day without turning on the conditioner.
And, of course, try to use your electrical devices as little as possible during the day. We also try to be vigilant about turning off lights in rooms that aren’t in use. In many of our rooms, which are quite open, we don’t need to turn on lights even when the blinds are closed; there is usually enough light to play by. If we want to do something that requires light, we do it at the kitchen table in the morning, since the back yard is shaded in the morning, and we can leave the big sliding glass door uncovered during those hours.
With a little planning, it’s possible to keep the house reasonably cool without using a great deal of power, ensuring that we spend a little less during the summer.