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5 Energy-Saving Tips To Lower Your Summer Electricity Bills

We’re entering the heart of summer, so your air conditioner is probably running, putting your electricity bill top of mind. To that point, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that home electricity bills will tick up slightly this summer,* to an average of $173/month. Luckily, there are ways to beat the heat.

Read on for five summer energy-saving tips, plus details on programs that may save you even more money.

1. Set your thermostat correctly

One of the most effective ways to reduce your energy usage is to be smart about your thermostat settings. According to Energy Saver Tips from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), you could save as much as an estimated 10% on cooling (and heating) by setting your thermostat back 7°–10°F from its usual setting for 8 hours a day.

The best plan of action is to set your thermostat to keep your house warmer while you’re sleeping or out and about. To simplify the process, you can use a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust temperatures on set days and times.

2. Stay up-to-date on your HVAC maintenance

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), “space heating and air conditioning” was responsible for 52% of a home’s energy use in 2020. Given that, a key summer energy-saving tip is making sure your HVAC system is properly maintained.

Having it serviced in the spring can help ensure it’s running at top efficiency in the summer. Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends replacing your cooling system with a heat pump that’s certified by ENERGY STAR if:

  • It’s more than 12 years old; or
  • You’re ready to replace it

Despite their name, heat pumps can be ideal for cooling efficiently, too.

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You can also save energy on cooling by checking your system’s air filters every 30 to 90 days. A clean air filter will prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system, which could slow down air flow. A dirty air filter also means your HVAC system will have to work harder to keep you cool, wasting energy.

(For peak efficiency in the winter, don’t forget to have the system evaluated in the fall.)

3. Check your windows

Your windows can make a huge difference in your summer electricity bills. If there are air leaks, they let hot air inside during the summer, which both makes your HVAC system work less efficiently and wastes your money. Air leaks can be fixed by applying weatherstripping or air sealing with caulk.

You may also want to replace older windows with windows certified by the ENERGY STAR program. These windows have “invisible coatings that block solar heat.” As a result, ENERGY STAR-certified windows can reduce home energy bills by 12% on average nationally, according to the EPA. But if you’re not ready for a major home improvement, low-cost options like heat-blocking curtains can help, too.

In addition to sealing air leaks in your windows, you may want to look at improving insulation in your home. The EPA estimates that “homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs (or an average of 11% on total energy costs) by air sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces and basements.” 

4. Become a fan of fans

Did you know that the direction your fan turns can make a difference in cooling your home? In the summer, fans should turn in a counterclockwise direction for maximum energy savings. In the winter, reversing the direction can help warm air that’s risen to the ceiling come back down.

The DOE adds that if you cool your home using air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F and still stay comfortable. Best of all, it could save you up to 30% on your energy bills during the summer!

Water heating can account for 14–18% of a utility bill, with the average household spending up to $600/year on it alone. For energy savings, try lowering your water heater temperature from 140°F to 120°F. In addition to helping your electricity bill, it can reduce the risk of scalding and slow build-up in your pipes.

One electric company, Direct Energy, offers these tips for reducing costs:

  • Leave your water heater’s temperature setting at 120oFor less
  • Lower the temperature before going on a trip
  • Use cold water to wash your clothes
  • Install water-saving shower and sink fixtures
  • Add insulation to hot water pipes

How to get the most summer energy savings

In the end, the best route for keeping your summer electricity bills down is to aim for as many of these fixes as possible. According to the Department of Energy, tackling these four areas combined could result in 20–50% energy savings:

  • Thermostat programming
  • Cooling and heating maintenance
  • Insulation
  • Air sealing

How to get help paying for energy efficiency improvements

Making the most of some of these summer energy savings tips will involve upfront costs. Fortunately, there are assistance programs and tax credits you may qualify for to help.

As an example, the DOE helps low-income households reduce their energy costs through its Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Homeowners reportedly save $372 annually on average, or more, through the program. You can learn more about applying for WAP here.

Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has a Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. According to the Department of Energy, LIHEAP can help qualifying households “reduce the costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and minor energy-related home repairs.” You can learn more and see if you qualify by visiting the LIHEAP Clearinghouse website.

Depending on your state, territory, or Tribe, you may also qualify for a rebate for energy efficiency and appliance upgrades. You can learn more about the program on the Department of Energy’s Home Energy Rebates page.

Finally, if you’re thinking about a big home improvement, a Mr. Cooper home equity loan or cash-out refinance could potentially boost your budget. To learn more about your options, talk to one of our Mortgage Professionals at 833-685-2565 or get started online.

Summer heat isn’t going away, but by taking proactive steps, you can stay cool while saving some cool cash.

*June–August 2024

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