As summer cranks up the heat, here are tips to lower your energy bill.

When it comes to energy bills, the blistering heat of summer can be your wallet’s worst enemy. The hottest months of the year bring beach days, cookouts, and baseball games, but those sizzlin’ summer temperatures also give your energy bill quite a workout. We can all agree that with every degree of comfort we feel in our home, there’s that recurring concern about how much it’s costing us—especially when we see the bill.

First Financial Security, Inc. money management, financial education, helpful hintsNo need to panic, though. There are some simple tips to lower your energy bills without sacrificing your comfort. Some can be done on a daily basis and some you can take into consideration when you’re making home improvements or purchasing new appliances. The BEST idea, however, is to visit your local energy provider’s website. They’ll publish tips and give details about rebates and programs they offer specifically for their patrons, such as Smart Metering. Right now, though, here are a few tips to help you beat the heat:

  1. Set your air conditioning thermostat to 78 degrees when you’re home and higher when you’re away at work. It’s estimated that, during the summer months, for every degree above 78 degrees that you set your thermostat, you could save approximately 6 to 8% per degree on your energy bill. Don’t love walking into a hot house? Install an automatic setback or programmable thermostat that starts your air conditioning system an hour before you arrive back home.
  1. Use your stove or oven in the morning or evening when the weather has cooled down. Pull out that crockpot recipe book or, better yet, heat up the grill and keep the heat out of the kitchen. Cooking inside adds extra heat indoors and makes your air conditioner work harder. The same goes for your dishwasher and clothes dryer.
  1. lower your energy bill, money management, financial educationHang your clothes to dry. Not only does the heat of the dryer add warmth to your home, it can also cause extra wear and tear on your clothes. You can line-dry many clothing items, which is much more efficient than tossing them around in hot air. For others, stop the dryer as soon as the laundry is dry and be sure to clean the lint trap after each load. A clean lint trap helps the air flow better and helps your clothes dry faster. So does drying laundry in consecutive loads, which allows you to take advantage of the already heated dryer.
  1. Keep your refrigerator full. A full refrigerator runs more efficiently than when it’s half full because food stays colder longer than air. Store gallon jugs of water in your refrigerator to take up extra room and keep the setting between 35 and 38 degrees. Clean the coils twice a year and you’ll improve its efficiency by 30 to 50%. And for goodness sake, stop opening the refrigerator door just to browse. Each time you do, cold air escapes and your hard-earned money flies out the door.
  1. Install Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL). Did you know that CFLs use 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last 10 times longer? Yes, they cost more upfront, but they more than pay for themselves in the form of lower electricity bills. Switching to CFLs in the five most frequently used fixtures in your house will save about $60 per year, according to Energy Star.

These are just a few tips that you can start using today, but if you’re planning to renovate your home or upgrade appliances, be sure to talk to your energy provider about incentives for specific improvements or modifications. When you shop for appliances, look for the Energy Star label, which means the appliance meets certain energy-efficiency guidelines that can lower your energy bill. In the meantime, enjoy the summer and stay cool!