Energy bills have substantially increased over time, and prices typically are much higher during the hotter months of the year. Arizona’s hottest temperatures extend from June through August and even into September, so be prepared and apply these five easy and low-maintenance steps to lower your energy usage.
Use AC More Wisely
Using your AC more wisely is the biggest energy saver for your home. Here’s how to cut costs.
According to Arizona Public Service (APS), for every degree you raise your thermostat, you will save two to three percent on your cooling costs. For example, if your AC is set to 78 degrees and you raise it to 81, you can save 5 to 6 percent off your bill. And if you want to turn up the thermostat more, turning on ceiling fans will help keep you cool. Remember, fans cool people and not rooms, so turn off ceiling fans when leaving parts of your home.
Your AC could also drain how much energy you use if it’s left on at unnecessary times. If you have a thermostat with an auto mode option -- or a smart thermostat – the AC will self-operate, and the motor will run only if needed. This is a wise strategy to use if you’re home. When you or your family are not home, turning the AC off completely will cut energy costs significantly.
Also, make sure the vents in your home are not blocked. It can trap heat and cause your AC to work harder. When the vents have nothing impeding air flow, costs will be lower because of the increase in efficiency. You can even keep your interior doors ajar to improve vent circulation and the home's air quality, saving you money.
The last piece of AC advice is to check and change your air filters. Dirt and dust will build up in air filters if not changed regularly. Clogged air filters won’t produce efficient air flow, making your electric bill more expensive. Experts recommend replacing your filter every 30 to 90 days to ensure smooth-running air flow within your home. Put reminders in your calendar or phone; yes, it’s that important.
Use Less Hot Water
Heating your water uses a substantial amount of energy and can jack up your energy bill. According to the Department of Energy, heating water comprises 20 percent of home energy use. The next time you’re doing laundry, wash your clothes with cold water. Using cold water (and avoiding the dryer) could also help prevent the heat from setting stains into your clothes. Using a drying rack or clothes line or laying out your clothes to dry can save you even more money.
If your home has a pool, like some of our lovely homes at Emblem at Talinn, you can save money with a variable speed pool pump or heater. Turn off your heater if you’re not using it for an extensive amount of time. A variable-speed pool pump is more efficient, lasts longer and runs cooler. According to APS, you can save up to 70 percent, as much as $340 a year, with a variable-speed pool pump.
And if you have an electric spa, you can save $1 a day, just by simply turning it off when you’re not using it. Covering the spa and turning down the spa’s water temperature will also help you save.
The biggest energy saver you can make for lighting is to switch to LEDs, which use 90 percent less energy. You can save around $55 over the lifetime of a single bulb. It also releases 90 percent less heat into your home, further reducing costs. To save even more money, always turn off your lights after leaving a room to reduce heat.
Utilize an Energy Audit and the Best Service Plan
Knowing what works best for your lifestyle with the appliances you have is essential to understanding where and when you can save the most money.
First, conducting a home energy audit will help you understand the performance of your home. You can hire an energy provider like APS or the Salt River Project (SRP) to conduct the report. They will first assess how much you paid for last year’s energy bill and examine your appliances to test efficiency and collect data, according to the Arizona homeowner site, Rosie on the House. Knowing the deficiencies that can cause higher energy costs will help you determine what kind of service rate plan is best for you.
The two main service plans are a fixed energy charge plan and a time-of-use plan. A fixed energy charge plan will make your energy rate the same, no matter what time or if the pricing rates change over time. A time-of-use plan will base your energy rate on the time of day. The peak-rate hours are between 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. So, using less energy during that period will help you save. Typically, the time-of-use plan will cost far less than a fixed energy charge plan.
For example, if you sign up for a time-of-use plan and have a pool, you can save up to $120 a year running a single-speed pool pump from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. instead of at night. Same with the AC; you can use a smart thermostat to “pre-cool” or “pre-heat” before 4 p.m. on weekdays. If you’re on a fixed rate plan, program your thermostat to adjust the temperature when you’re not home.
Unplug Appliances Not In-Use
Some appliances could be using energy even when they are off. The biggest energy leach to watch out for is your television set. When you turn off the TV, it still consumes energy when plugged in. To save even more on your energy bill, start unplugging your TV after you turn it off, if you don’t find it too inconvenient. Unplugging other appliances like coffee makers, toasters, video game consoles and printers when not in use can also help save money and reduce the amount of energy consumed.
Want to put these strategies to the test? Try them out with our available homes at sheahomes.com.