Summer’s no time to be a slouch about conserving energy. When the mercury rises, it can be tempting to crank up the A/C. But we can slash our energy bills, reduce greenhouse gases, and lower the likelihood of summer blackouts by being conscious of our energy use.
Summer’s actually one of the best seasons to save. Here are 10 seriously easy ways to cut your energy use, while upping your enjoyment of the season.
1 Dress like you’re on vacay. Why the heck are you wearing khakis and socks at home?! The less you wear, the higher you can set your thermostat (aim for 25°C), and the more energy you can save. So get out the shorts/tees/tanks and or sundresses!
2 Get grilling. Barbecuing outdoors avoids heating up your kitchen (which often causes us to blast the AC).
3 Take your entertaining outdoors, too. Why dine indoors (and use extra lighting and AC), when you could dine al fresco?
4 Join the fan club. A ceiling fan saves you mucho dinero by maximizing air circulation. Paired with open windows or screen doors, fans allow you to restrict energy-guzzling AC to just the hottest days. Check out Dyson’s new bladeless-technology fan. At last: tabletop and floor fans chic enough for even the most discerning homes!
5 Garden strategically. Plant deciduous trees and shrubs against the south and west sides of your home. In summer, the leafy foliage shades against solar heat, while in winter, bare branches let warm sunlight stream into your home. As shade trees grow, so do your energy savings. According to the US Department of Energy, three big shade trees will chop as much as $250 off your annual energy bill.
6 Add a storm door. Today’s airtight, all-season doors don’t require storm doors. But consider adding one anyway. Why? Having the option means you can open your home to cross-breezes. If all you’ve got is an all-season door, air conditioning is your default.
7 Improve the energy-efficiency of your central air conditioning system by booking a start-of-the-season tune-up and maintenance session.
8 Or if you’ve got a window air-conditioning unit, improve its energy-efficiency by cleaning the filter. Once a season is mandatory. Got furry pets? Opt for weekly maintenance.
9 Trade the old for the new(ish). If you have an ancient in-window air conditioning unit, upgrade to a new (or even just new-ish) model. According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, the efficiency of in-window room air conditioners improved 47% between the 1970s and the 1990s. So whether you upgrade to a brand-new, Energy-Star rated unit, or even a not-so-new Craigslist find, you’ll still improve the efficiency of your hand-me-down unit by half.
10. Dry your laundry outdoors. Line drying uses zero energy, your laundry smells fantastic, and putting up and taking down laundry provides exercise (swimsuit season is here, after all). Win-win-win!
11 Flaunt sexy beach hair. Skip the energy-using blow dryer, flat iron or curling iron. Just wash and go: the warm summer breeze will take care of the rest. (Sticklers can apply styling product and “scrunch” it in, first.)
12 Set your outdoor security lights on motion-sensor settings. That way they come on only when needed. This makes them greater deterrents and lesser energy thieves!
13 Draw curtains and shades. Even if you enjoy the view during your morning cuppa, draw your shades before leaving for the day, to protect against solar heat. (If you have cats or dogs that enjoy the view, this isn’t an option, but easy-to-install window film is!)
14 Mow it old school. Why use a gas- or electricity-sucking power mower when you could push a quiet, zero-energy-using reel mower? Today’s models don’t even need blade-sharpening.
15 Get unplugged. Even when turned off, many appliances suck small amounts of energy that can really add up. So get your home electronics – computers, TVs, stereo system, wifi, PVR, DVD player, anything you don’t need to have on 24-7 – onto power bars and turn them off at night, and especially when you leave on summer vacation.