Homeowner Tips to Beat the Heat While Saving Energy

squirrel+on+window+ledge+mtoddAs things start to heat up in central Texas it’s a good time to start thinking about ways to cool down while keeping an eye on saving money and conserving energy.

Following are some tips that can lead you on the road to saving money and saving the planet without sacrificing comfort.

Let your air conditioner rest while you are at work: Did you know that your air conditioner represents about half of your electric bill during the summer? Turning off your A/C system when you leave the house makes the unit work twice as hard to cool your home back down. But many of us forget to turn the thermostat up when we leave the house. Why keep the air conditioner at a lower temperature in the heat of the summer when no one is home? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homes in the U. S. that have air conditioning units use about 5 percent of all electricity produced in the country at a cost to homeowners of more than $11 billion.  Each home with an air conditioner releases into the air an average of two tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Other ways you can beat the heat and save money when the A/C is running:

  • Have regular, professional maintenance performed on your A/C system at least once a year, especially prior to summer when the unit works the hardest and you need it the most
  • Change your A/C filter once a month. A good way to remember is to change it when you receive your electric bill
  • Make sure your outside A/C unit has plenty of breathing space.  Avoid enclosing or covering the unit and keep plants and other vegetation at least 18 inches away
  • Do a visual inspection of A/C ducts to make sure they are sealed properly and not leaking
  • Contact your utility to ask about an energy audit for your home

Decrease hidden costs that are underwater: What we tend to forget is that electric water heaters are a major energy consuming device in our home. In fact, statistics show that electric water heaters can account for 14 to 25 percent of your electric bill. Some quick tips to save and conserve are:

  • Reduce shower time
  • Check for leaky faucets and pipes inside and outside
  • Limit running water when washing the dishes or brushing your teeth
  • Lower the water temperature
  • Insulate your water heater tank and hot water pipes

How about turning off your electric water heater when you don’t need it? Monitor and control your water heater’s electrical use with new energy management products such as the one offered by CPS Energy in San Antonio to set personalized profiles that reduce your electricity usage without any loss of comfort. Some even allow you to manage and monitor your usage from any computer, tablet or smartphone.

Dip into the pool not your wallet: Saving energy and still maintaining a comfortable swimming pool temperature can be as easy as using a smaller, higher efficiency pump and by operating it less. In a study of 120 pools by the Center for Energy Conservation at Florida Atlantic University, some pool owners saved as much as 75 percent of their original pumping bill when they implemented energy conservation measures. You can do the same by taking into account the following:

  • The larger the pump, the greater your operation and maintenance costs – so you’ll want to use the smallest size pump possible for your swimming pool.
  • Pool pumps often run much longer than necessary. Reduce the operating time of your pool filter and automatic cleaning sweep to only four or five hours.
  • Make sure the intake grates are always debris-free.

What we’ve learned is that homeowners who monitor and manage their major energy consuming devices such as heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters and pool pumps save 15-20% on their electric bill.  Some energy management programs provide the ability for you to take control of your energy usage based on your lifestyle and realize the potential of double-digit reduction in energy use without any loss of comfort, which ultimately will lead to greater savings on your utility bill and reduced impact on the environment.