Climbing temperatures in the Texas Summer spur air conditioning systems to work harder. And when they work harder, the electric bill soars. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average monthly home energy bill in Texas for 2016 was $127.10.
You can do something about it to ease the sting. Here are four ways to quickly lower home energy bills to save money.
- Request an energy audit
An energy assessment involves an auditor coming to your home to review its energy use. The auditor goes into every room to conduct tests and find ways to improve energy efficiency. You may find someone who can perform a free audit. The Department of Energy website has helpful information about energy audits, finding an auditor, and what to do to prepare for an assessment.
- Ensure the Air Conditioner Runs Efficiently
No, you don’t have to put the thermostat on 85 degrees to lower your bill. Nowadays, smart thermostats can automatically adjust the temperature based on whether someone is in a room. Some older thermostats can be programmed to change the temperature during the day when no one is home.
Inspect the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit every month by checking the filters. The dirtier the filters, the harder the cooling system churns out air. Change the filters monthly or every other month.
Although a ceiling fan requires energy, it uses less energy than an AC unit. Turn on ceiling fans rather than turn up the air conditioning. Try to keep blinds and curtains closed during the hotter months. The more sunlight that gets in the house, the more energy the AC unit will need.
- Lower Water Heater Usage
You might not take hot showers in the summer like you do in the winter, but the water heater can still eat up the home energy bill. You can save money by setting the water heater at 120 degrees F. Some water heaters default to 140 degrees F, which risks scalding.
The Department of Energy says a home can save $36 to $61 yearly when reducing the water heater thermostat max temperature to 120 degrees. The organization states that this temperature is hot enough for dishwashers to do their jobs to remove bacteria and debris.
Most washing machines come with three settings: cold, warm, and hot. When doing laundry, try to use the cold setting most often. About 90 percent of the energy used by washing machines goes to heating the water. Washing clothes in cold water is still an efficient way to launder. Also, only run the washer when you have a full load to save more than 3,000 gallons of water every year.
- Cut the Power on Unused Appliances
The coffeemaker, microwave, computers, lamps, and other appliances draw power 24/7 regardless if they’re in use. When a lamp is turned off, it still sips on power just from being plugged in. Here’s a tip: use a power strip for appliances. Then all you have to do is plug in the power strip when you need to use any of the appliances. Instead of unplugging each one, you unplug one item.
Follow these four tips and you should get a pleasant surprise on your home energy bills in the months ahead. The great thing about these tips is they work almost year-round especially in Texas with its milder winters.
If you’re looking at new homes in San Marcos, check out the TRACE community. Both builders include energy efficient equipment and features to help save money. Next time you stop by a model home or meet with a builder, ask about their energy-saving features and options.