You don’t have to know much about upstate South Carolina to know how hot and humid it gets in August. Most of us probably feel like we know a little too much about the oppressive late-summer heat and swampy humidity around here.
What you might not know is that rising temperatures don’t necessarily have to result in higher electricity bills. There are simple ways to keep your home cooler throughout the month without touching your thermostat and other changes you can make that will translate to long-term cost-savings, even if you’re relying on your air conditioning more than usual.
Here are some things to consider:
First, keep in mind that cooling your home is responsible for up to half of your annual energy expense, so every action you take to ensure your unit runs less often or as efficiently as possible will add up to real savings.
The recommended thermostat setting in the summer is 78 degrees. Now, I know for many that might sound too high. My wife isn’t comfortable if the setting is above 76, so that’s where we’ve agreed to keep ours set. The important thing is to come to an agreement with your household members about what will be the lowest allowable setting of the thermostat in your home. That way, everyone is aware how low is too low, and when it’s best to step away from the thermostat and power up a fan instead.
On that note, fans of all types— especially ceiling fans—are great at keeping you cool because they create a wind chill effect. But once you leave the room, switch them off. They don’t do much to lower the room temperature and won’t be worth the energy spent if you’re not around.
During the day, be sure to keep your blinds and drapes closed to keep out direct sunlight. And if you’re in the market for new window dressings, keep in mind drapes that are medium-colored with white backing can reduce heat gains by up to 33%.
You should also save some of your chores for nighttime. Your air conditioner will work much harder if your dryer and dishwasher are running at the hottest times of the day and adding that extra heat to your space.
If you’re a heavy user of your air conditioner, you can still make changes to other aspects of your home to save energy overall. Perhaps August is the right time to replace your traditional lightbulbs with light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs). These types of bulbs use 25 to 80% less electricity and last up to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs. You should also make it a habit to turn off lights and electronic devices when they’re not in use.