As we struggle to stay cool in the hot summer weather, we are reminded again about the high costs of electricity. In most areas of the country, summer electricity prices are highest as a result of demand for electricity. Since our consumption of electricity is often the highest in the hot weather, summer electricity bills can really skyrocket. A monthly electricity bill in the summer for a modest sized home can be anywhere from $150 to $500 or higher than non-summer months. Air conditioning, refrigeration and lighting are the heaviest users of electricity. . Of course the growing number of electronic devices, some of which are on all the time, can add to increased usage as well.
Here are some tips to help manage your home electricity bill:
1. Upgrade old, out-dated air conditioners and refrigerators to high efficiency models. Look for the Energy Star label and learn about what rebates or incentives might be available through your local utility. Some will even pay to take away your second refrigerator. A great resource for available energy efficiency incentives in your area is at http://dsireusa.org/
2. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFL) or LEDs. Although lighting does not constitute a significant portion of the total electric load, a little know fact is that traditional incandescent light bulbs convert less than 20% of the electricity they consume into useful light. The remaining electricity is turned to wasted heat which requires even more electricity use by your air conditioner to remove that heat from your house.
3. Perform a home energy audit. Check to see if a local contractor or your utility offers this audit for a small fee. There are also tools online to guide you through the process. Check your local electric and/or gas utility website to see what tools they offer online.
4. Practice passive solar design. It sounds fancy but it includes some common sense steps to maximize the heating potential of the sun. In the summer, when we don’t want the heat, block direct sunlight from the south facing windows and be sure to lower the blinds when you leave the house for long periods. When you are home, make use of natural light from windows which have indirect sunlight and turn off as many lights as you can.