Three Tips to Help You Go Green and Save Some Green This Summer

Everything is blooming, the pollen is slowly washing away, and the temperatures are steadily rising. Yes, summer is just around the corner. And that means one thing: the air conditioner will be on full blast, all day every day, and utility bills will be huge. Here are three ways you can save money on your electric bill this summer.

Don’t Be Lazy – Automate Your Air Conditioner. Almost every house and apartment has a programmable thermostat these days. In fact, every single place we’ve lived in for the past decade or more has had one. And how many times have we actually used that feature? Exactly once. The government’s Energy Star website estimates that the average family can save $180 per year by properly using their programmable thermostat.

Go with the Flow – the Air Flow. In the last tip I said that everywhere we had lived had a thermostat. There was one exception: we lived in Germany for three years, and over there we didn’t have any air conditioning at all. And before you say it’s because it never gets hot over there, that’s not the case. There are several weeks out of each year when temperatures hit the 90s.

So how did we combat the heat? We did like Germans do – we opened our windows at night to let in the cooler air, and closed them during the day to keep it in. We hung our laundry to dry on racks instead of running the dryer all the time. We turned off overhead lights that not only use electricity but also emit heat. And on the hottest days, we didn’t use our oven – we either grilled or used the stove top.

Be High Maintenance. According to the Department of Energy, changing out the filter is the single most important maintenance task for your air conditioner. Regularly changing it can lower your AC’s energy consumption by 5-15%. I personally use the cheapest filters out there but I change them once a month (I set a calendar reminder so I don’t forget). It’s also important to make sure the evaporator coil and the outdoor condenser unit are kept clean and clear of foliage or debris.

For these and other spring and summer energy saving tips, visit the Energy Department’s website. Your local cooperative extension office also has resources on conserving energy.

By Lila Quintiliani, AFC®
Military Saves Program Manager

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