Here in Austin, Texas, we know when spring hits it’s only a matter of days before the sweltering heat follows. However, for many of you north of the Panhandle, the first day of summer is the turning point for increased temperatures and added energy costs. But, what if we told you a way to counterbalance the cost that comes from the expensive dog days of summer?
It’s possible – and all from the comfort of your own home!
In the “Money Smart” segment of Green Your Home, we break down your property into three categories – Inside Zone, Systems Zone and Outside Zone – and teach readers ways to cut costs while conserving energy and resources in each. As we step into the season of sunshine, we’ve tightened those tips to give you our top nine simple strategies for saving money this summer.
1. Open up those windows. If you live in a location that stays relatively mild in the summer, maybe Denver, Colo., or Southern California, open your windows once the sun goes down and get some of that cooler air circulating through your home. Window fans are a great way to help cool the house without upping the AC.
2. Power down power strips. Electronics account for 15 percent of an average household’s energy bill, and surprisingly power used by electronics in standby mode can be blamed for typically 5-10 percent of that. If your part of the world is just too hot for ventilation, even at night, counter that energy use with power strips. TVs, computers, media players and chargers can all steal energy, even when they’re turned off. If they’re not in use, switch off the power strip and save money.
3. Gentlemen… start your grills! If you want to keep energy costs down, stay away from that oven. Air conditioning makes up almost half of the average home’s energy bill. Cooking your meat and veggies outside will help keep your Inside Zone cool and efficient.
1. Chip away at your bills. Sit down with your energy and utility bills and figure out possible ways to reduce them. Do you recycle more than you throw away? Get yourself a smaller trash bin and knock a few dollars off your bill every month. Have any energy efficient systems already in place? Make sure you’re seeing the appropriate rebates in your monthly statements.
2. Audit yourself. The average home can lose up to 20 percent of its cooled air when it’s not insulated correctly. So, if you’re looking for smaller improvements to make around the house, get an energy audit. This can help find where cool air is escaping so you can seal up those gaps.
3. Upgrade your thermostat. Do you ever finish an eight-hour workday only to come home and realize your AC has been working hard to keep your furniture at a comfy 70 degrees the entire time you were gone? A programmable thermostat, which can cost as little as $30, can save you up to $150 annually.
1. Water in the dark. Evaporation can consume up to 30% of the water used to irrigate. Save water wherever you can. In the summer, losing water to evaporation can do a world of harm to your water bill. Early in the morning, (and we mean early!) and at night, long after the sun goes down, are the best times to get that lawn green.
2. Go native. It may be too late in the year for some to consider this, but xeriscaping is becoming the new, hot trend for people looking to save money on landscape irrigation. And this doesn’t mean filling up your lawn with weeds. Check out your local botanical gardens for xeriscaping tips and turn your lawn into a beautiful scene of native plants and trees.
3. Plant trees. Shade. Clean air. Curb appeal. We can’t say enough about the importance of trees… so we won’t tell you anymore. Except this: Plant them. You won’t regret it.
Anything we’ve forgotten? Share your summer tips for saving hundreds of dollars when it’s 100 degrees outside.