While about 80 percent of people across the globe have access to electricity, Canadians and Americans consume more than any other nation to the tune of about 12,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per household per year. This is 20 times more electricity than the average Nigerian household and about twice as much as a typical European home.
Air conditioning, the leading cause of high electric bills in the summer, is to blame for much of this energy consumption. North America collectively spends about $22 billion per year and releases four tons of carbon dioxide just to keep cool.
Here’s how to restore your wallet and promote electrical safety by reducing the number of blown circuits that occur when you attempt to run too many electrical devices at once.
Perform Preventative Maintenance
You change the oil in your car occasionally to keep it running well. The same care and preventative maintenance should be granted to your A/C. This includes changing the air filter at the start of the season to promote good airflow and hiring an HVAC technician to perform other important maintenance.
Clean your Air Ducts
Not just for health reasons, but also efficiency reasons. Dust, debris and other blockages can build up over time restricting the airflow through your HVAC system ducts. This causes the unit to have to work harder to achieve the desired temperature. You should clean your air ducts every three years. If you haven’t cleaned them recently, it could be affecting your electric bill.
Set Your Programmable Thermostat Wisely
If you don’t have one, invest in a programmable thermostat this summer, preferably one that has Wi-Fi connectivity so you can adjust it from anywhere. While you’re at home, set the thermostat to 78 degrees F (26 degrees C) and dress for the season to stay comfortable. Even a few degrees below this ideal setting – say, 72 degrees F (22 degrees C) – can increase your cooling bills by up to 47 percent.
Then, program setbacks up to 85 degrees F (30 degrees C) while you’re away at work all day to save up to 15 percent on your energy bills every month. By also programming a recovery period timed for when you leave work, you’ll arrive to a comfortable home. In this way, you save energy without sacrificing comfort.
Run the Ceiling Fan
If you’re afraid 78 degrees F (26 degrees C) is a little too warm, run the ceiling fan to create a wind chill effect and make the room feel as though it’s 74 degrees F (23 degrees C). Ceiling fans consume only a fraction of what your air conditioner needs to run. Still, to maximize energy savings, turn off the fan no one’s in the room.
Reduce Exterior Heat Gain
Hot air leaks into your home through gaps and cracks in the walls, ceiling and floor. The most cost-effective way to counter this is to apply weather-stripping and caulk around windows and doors, wiring and plumbing penetrations, exhaust vents, and ductwork.
Another way to reduce heat gain from outside is to block the sun. Solar heat gain is a huge issue in the summer, so close the blinds and draw the shades, especially over south- and west-facing windows, to help keep your home cooler. Strategically planted trees can also provide shade in the afternoon when you need it most.
Reduce Interior Heat Gain
Heat can also generate inside your home. Lighten the load on your air conditioner by only using heat-generating appliances such as the dishwasher, dryer, stove and oven during cooler times of day.
Now is also a good time to switch out incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent lights or light-emitting diodes. CFLs and LEDs consume less energy, give off less heat, and last years longer to help you save energy for decades to come.
Replace Your Air Conditioner
If your unit is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it, especially if it starts acting up. Instead of paying for a repair, you can put that money toward a new air conditioner that runs more efficiently, operates more safely and keeps your home more comfortable. Combine the new unit with the rest of these tips to save 20 to 50 percent on your cooling bills this summer and restore these funds back to your wallet!
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