Every summer, people around the world see their utility bills rise as they turn on air conditioners and start watering lawns. It isn’t hard to see why costs go up, but it only takes a few small steps to save a lot of money each summer. Here are five ideas to get you started.
Open the Windows
The easiest way to save money without much work is to turn off the air conditioner and open the windows. The whole process takes just a few minutes and gives you a 100% energy savings on air conditioning.
If you live in a small apartment your savings will be less than a big, old house with bad insulation, but the impact to your energy bills will be immediate and noticeable either way.
When I lived in an old house, our electricity bill was often 50% higher or more in the summer. In my old apartment, my bills were up by at least 20% when the weather was hot. Looking back, I could have pocketed the money by opening the windows and putting a lighter blanket on my bed at night instead of cooling the whole house.
You can also turn on fans to help even more at a much lower cost than AC.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
If you live somewhere hot and humid, turning off the air might be unbearable. I understand, I have been to the South in the summer and understand how much air conditioning makes a difference.
In that case, you can install a programmable thermostat to make sure the air is only on when it needs to be on. They start at less than $40, so even in a rental it could be worth your money to install a new thermostat out of your own pocket, just make sure to ask the landlord first.
With a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the temperature to be cooler when you are awake and home. There is no need to keep the house as cool when you are off at work, in class, or sleeping.
Just make sure to take advantage of the settings and don’t offset your savings by cranking it up when you are home.
Install Low Flow Shower Heads
While most of us prefer a long, hot, high pressure shower, it can get expensive for both water and, more importantly, energy.
According to the Nebraska energy office, a family of four will save about $100 per year from installing a low flow shower head just on the hot water costs.
You are also saving about 5,475 gallon per year per person. That is about 22,000 gallons for a family of four. If you live where I do, that will save you between $57 and $228 per year depending on how much water you use each month.
All in, you will save between $157 and $328 per year from installing a low flow shower head for your family, or between $40 and $60 per year if you live alone.
Your lawn is another big water sucker. I live in a condo, so I don’t have to worry about it. If you live in a house with a yard, however, lawns get thirst and expensive fast.
A typical lawn will take about 75,000 gallons of water per year. Trimming your watering cycle 30% saves as much water as that low flow shower head for a family of four.
If you need a refresher, that can be over $300 in water. Does your lawn really need to be that green?
This one isn’t “around the house,” but it holds a soft spot in my heart. While I have a long commute every day, if I lived closer to the office I would certainly bike as often as possible. When I lived about 7 miles from the office, I usually biked 2-3 days a week when the weather was nice.
I was curious how much money I would save if I didn’t have to drive, and found a handy car vs. bike calculator. It turns out a typical person would save over $1,000,000 (yes, $1 million) in their lifetime if they skipped owning a car all together.
Your Best Summer Money Saving Tips
What are your favorite money savings tips for the summer? Please share in the comments.
Image by Frederic Rivollier / flickr
6 thoughts on “5 Ways to Save Money and the Environment This Summer”
I really love being able to keep our windows open when we can. Hopefully it’s not TOO hot of a summer!
We have our windows open right now!
Down here in South Florida, sometimes no AC is not an option. On top of having to keep it on, it will run much longer than normal to counteract the summer swelter. The best thing to do during these times (and yes this could save up to $100 per month depending on your home) is to put the thermostat closer to 80 than 70 and make good use of fans. 78 is the “recommended” thermostat setting, because the difference between 78 and 77 could mean as much as 25% more energy usage. It’s a fine line. Some AC units are energy hogs, but you’d be hard pressed to find a fan that eats up more than a couple bucks a month in energy.
Unless you are going to keep it off, never turn off your AC. If anything, raise it up to 80+ before you leave and put it back down to your desired temperature once you get home. This helps control the amount of moisture in your home and keeps the AC from running more than it has to.
I hear that. I’ve spent time around Fort Lauderdale and couldn’t imagine living without AC there. Here in Denver, it is dry so the heat doesn’t bother us as much.
Interesting that the difference between 77 and 78 could make such a big difference.
Good points! I would add lower water temperature and use a cold water wash.
That’s a good one. Changing your hot water heater temperature just a degree or two can save big money on your gas bill.
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