Thursday, August 15, 2013

5 Tips to Reduce Energy Costs During the Summer

According to the energy department, half of the household’s total energy usage goes towards cooling and heating costs. The BLS reports that for the past five years, the price of electricity in Boston has exceeded that of the nation during the summer. It’s going to be one hot and expensive summer folks.

Excessive heat warning have been issued for the Greater Boston Area through out the summer, with heat index values ranging from 105 to 109. Simply, the heat index value measures how hot it feels. People are cautioned to not do any strenuous activities outside as a combination of hot temperature and high humidity can create very dangerous situations.

105 to 109 degrees isn’t exactly beach weather and going out for cold treats can only last so long. So for those days when the weather isn't friendly, the best option might be to stay home. So aside from your basic energy-conserving tips (shutting anything off when not in use), here are some additional tips:

Use your AC efficiently: Air conditioners work more efficient went kept cool and make sure to keep the filter clean. Also by keeping the temperature at a moderate temperature, you’ll save more money. Air conditioners remove humidity so you’ll feel cooler even at a moderate temperature. If you don’t have one and plan on buying an AC, make sure to buy one with an Energy Star label to ensure efficiency. Visit Energy Star for tips and buying guidance on air conditioners.

Ceiling Fan: Ceiling fans are very cost-efficient and a great way to keep yourself cool on a moderately hot day. However, is it important to note that ceiling fans only keep you cool where it is running and does not cool the home’s air. If you have a ceiling fan and an AC, you can use it as a combo. The wind chill effect created by the ceiling fan will actually circulate the cool air from the AC. This allows you to increase the temperature on the AC without losing much cool air, reducing energy costs.

Keeping the heat out: Allowing sunlight into your home brings unwanted summer heat and makes it harder to keep it cooler in doors. An important tip is to close windows and cover your windows (shades, blinds, drapes, etc.) early to block out the sun. Don’t wait until it gets hot. These simple steps will make your homes a lot cooler even without an air conditioner, while saving money.

Daylighting: Summer days mean longer days. Daylighting is a great way to save energy during the day, by reducing the use of artificial light and maximizing use of natural light. Daylighting depends on the climate and the design of the home. North-facing windows are the most effective for source of light while preventing summer heat. South-facing windows when properly shaded can provide the same benefits. East and west-facing windows are good source of light but admit a lot of heat.

Use your water efficiently: During summer days, lowering the temperature on your water heater will reduce your energy costs as it accounts for 13%. If you’re using a dishwasher, make sure it is fully loaded to maximize and reduce the amount of water. Lastly, make sure to take cold showers!

For additional tips, check out NSTAR’s energy saving tips during the summer.

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