Air conditioned homes provide a refreshing escape from the summer's heat but if you’re not careful your energy bills may increase drastically during the hottest months of the year. Setting a reasonable temperature in your home requires a balance between comfort and your financial bottom line. The lower you set your thermostat in the summer, the higher your energy bills could be. But, you can shoot for a temperature that keeps you and your family comfortable and will save you money.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting thermostats to 78 degrees when you are home. This allows you to stay cool and avoid higher bills. But, what if 78 degrees is too hot for your comfort level? Here are some ideas to help you lower your energy bills this summer.
Although 78 degrees might sound unreasonably high, you can try an experiment where you set your thermostat to 81 degrees for a few hours to see how your family reacts. Over the next days, drop the temperature two or three degrees until you reach 71 degrees. After that, you can set the thermostat to what you determine is the average of your family’s comfort zone.
Nighttime is another great opportunity to conserve. When you go to sleep, your temperature lowers and heat radiates from your extremities. The National Institute of Health found the best sleep happens as the body reaches “thermoneutrality” when environmental temperatures are at 86 degrees uncovered or 60-66 degrees when covered up. To enjoy a good night’s sleep during the summer raise your thermostat to a warmer setting – around 80 degrees – and use lighter bedding and sleepwear. Using a ceiling fan will also help keep you cool. Even if you keep your home a few degrees colder, you can make choice about how you spend your money and the good news is you can take other steps to save without making yourself miserable during the hot summer months.
Turning up your thermostat when you’re gone is a great way to save energy. Set a higher inside temp that’s close to the outside temp. This slows down the flow of heat into your home and makes it easier for your A/C to work efficiently. If you set your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees above your normal setting while away, it could save as much as 10 percent.
High humidity can also turn a hot day into something much harder to endure because your sweat glands don’t work as efficiently when there is more moisture in the air. Sweat helps maintain your body temp. Air conditioners are good at reducing relative humidity, especially if your home is sealed well. Dehumidifiers can help achieve lower humidity levels if you want to save some of the burden on your air conditioner.
Also try installing a programmable thermostat to automatically raise the temperature when you leave the house. You can set it to start cooling your house before you are scheduled to get home. Remember, that for every degree you raise your thermostat, you can save up to three percent on cooling expenses. Set it and forget it. This can help reduce your energy expenses not only during summer months but year-round.
The location of your thermostat within your home can impact its performance and level of efficiency. Read all of the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent “ghost readings” or unnecessary cycling. To operate properly, a thermostat should be on an interior wall away from windows, doors, drafts, and direct heat sources like direct sunlight and light fixtures. It should also be located where natural room air currents (warm air rising, cool air sinking) occur. Furniture blocks air movement, so do not place any furniture in front of or below your thermostat.
Families are always looking for ways to lower their monthly expenses - especially energy bills, and by utilizing resources conservatively and making wise energy decisions today, we can become more energy efficient and save money too.
To find out more about how you can conserve energy and save money, visit www.westflorida.coop.