How to Save on Electricity During the Summer

If your home is anything like mine in the summer you keep the air conditioner running constantly and your electricity bill is probably shooting through the roof. I have looked at some of the traditional tips for saving money on electricity and they all boil down to one thing: turn your thermostat up an suffer in the heat.

Well, here are some ways that I learned to keep my home cool during the summer months. How much you save on electricity will vary but the ideas are sound and you should see some savings.

Replace Your Incandescent Lights with LED Bulbs

A picture of an electric meter.
Lighting and cooling your home can be a great summer expense. Learn how to save money on electricity.

According to various sources, LED lights use between 15% and 20% of the amount of electricity that incandescent lights use and that means if you replace all your light builbs you’ll not only save money on electricity but your home will produce less heat when you turn on all your lights.

Of course, some light bulbs cannot yet be replaced by LEDs but you should start with the lights you use most often. You can even buy lower wattage bulbs because LEDs are simply brighter than incandescent bulbs.

Replacing traditional incandescent lighting with LED lighting reduces your electricity costs in two ways. I wish every tip that follows offered the same beenfit but that simply isn’t the case.

Clean Your Fan Blades

If you rely on fans to keep air circulating in your home the chances are good that you have never cleaned them. Most people do not clean their fan blades as they collect a lot of dust and become pretty icky. But here’s the thing: all that dust and dirt on the fan blades makes them less efficient and therefore they have to work harder to move air around.

Modern rotating fans are easily disassembled for cleaning. You can use a damp cloth to wipe them down but you may need to spray them with a general purpose household cleaning agent. This is very dirty work so I recommend that you lay some paper down in a well-ventillated area (such as your patio or porch) and clean the fan blades on that.

You’ll notice that your fan pushes more air after you clean it and you’ll be less likely to run it on HIGH for a while. Running a fan on a lower setting uses less electricity and produces less heat.

Ceiling fans and portable fans should be cleaned at least once a month. If you live in an area that collects a lot of dust and dirt then clean the fans twice a month. It’s tedious work but you’ll enjoy a cooler home and lower your electric bills while doing so.

Point floor Fans at the Ceiling During the Day

If you’re not at home during most of the day you can push your thermostat up a few degrees. Be mindful if you have pets because they still need to stay cool. But a thermostat setting of 75-78 degrees should be tolerable.

Now, one of the best things you can do is set a clean portable fan near the air conditioning vent and point it up toward the center of the ceiling. Turn the fan on LOW SPEED and leave it there during the day. The cold air that your air conditioner circulates will rapidly sink toward the floor, so the portable fan will push it up toward the ceiling where hot air tends to collect.

Be absolutely certain you use safe fans that are not likely to hurt your pets or children. You can also put small fans on table tops and they’ll still push cool air up toward the ceiling. All you need is is to keep the cool air circulating in your home throughout the day and you’ll notice that it’s not nearly as hot when you get home from work as it used to be.

Close Your Blinds and Curtains On Sun-facing Windows

Yes, we all love a great view but if you’re not home during the day you’ll save electricity by blocking the sunlight from unused rooms. You can let a little bit of sun in so that your pets are not completely in the dark but the more heat you block at windows the less electricity you’ll use cooling your home.

Use Your 2-Liter Soda Bottles as Ice Coolers

What do you do with those 2-liter bottles when you have finished guzzling all that cold soda? You probably throw them away. But you can save money simply by filling them with water and placing them in your freezer.

The more you stuff your freezer with solid contents (preferably solid food), the more electricity you save. Freezers work best when they are full because they have to cool less air. So freezing a couple of 2-liter bottles filled with water helps your freezer stay cool when you don’t have much food at home.

But here’s another way those 2-liter bottles can help. You can place a frozen bottle just behind a fan and make a low-cost air conditioner. The surface-to-volume ratio of the ice in the bottle means it will take a long time to melt.

You do want to be careful NOT to overfill these bottles when you freeze them because water expands when it is frozen. If there isn’t enough extra room inside the bottle when the water freezes it will burst the bottle and then you’ll have a mess on your hands when the ice melts.

If you have a cooler that holds 4-6 2-liter bottles you can pack it up with ice and leave it open near a warm spot in your house when you come home.

Place Light-colored Furniture Near Sun-facing Windows

Dark furniture absorbs more heat than light-colored furniture. If you cannot move your furniture around or if you don’t have any light-colored furniture consider buying some white table cloths and slip covers to use during the day. These coverings protect your furniture from normal wear-and-tear, thus extending the life span of your wooden surfaces and upholstery.

Plant Trees and Bushes in Front of Your Windows

You may love the view from your sun-facing windows but if they look into your neighbors’ yards or out into the street then you’re sacrificing privacy and electricity for that view. Blocking the sunlight with natural greenery helps to keep windows cool and preserves some of your privacy. You won’t have to keep the drapes and blinds closed as much as you would without the greenery.

An alternative to putting trees and bushes right in front of your window is to build a garden lattice there and top it off with a shady netting or screen. You may not be able to do that with all windows in your home but the largest sun-facing windows may be located in a great spot for a small arbor or garden trellis. These are much more attractive and easier to maintain than expensive awnings.

Whatever you choose to do to keep your home cooler in the summer, the key is to use less electricity in every way possible while maintaining a cool, comfortable environment for your family and your pets. Simply putting up with the heat is not healthy. You want to improve circulation, block unnecessary sunlight, and use more energy-efficient lighting and appliances.