Clark Howard

9 tips for staying cool without heating up your energy bill

As record-breaking temperatures continue to bake much of the country this summer, you may be feeling the heat in your electricity bill too. With Americans spending huge amounts of money to cool their homes, it’s important to cut energy consumption to save cash. Luckily, you don’t have to compromise your comfort to do that.  

Check out these 9 tricks for reducing energy use this summer and beyond

Keep up with maintenance
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Americans waste $200 to $400 on energy every year thanks to drafts, air leaks around openings and outdated cooling systems. While most home owners can’t afford a complete overhaul of their old HVAC, low-cost maintenance like changing air filters monthly, placing draft dodgers or snakes at leaking doors and sealing cooling ducts can reduce energy use by 20%.
Close up
The sun’s blazing rays will heat rooms quickly, so it’s important to close blinds and shades during the day. You should also close vents and doors to rooms that aren’t used often when running your cooling system. This ensures the air conditioner cools the areas needed, so less energy is wasted.
Clean up in cold water
Though some clothes suggest warm or hot water for washing, you can reduce your monthly heating bill and save energy by turning all cycles to cold. Even taking cold showers will help lower your energy use and provide nice relief from the hot weather.
Hang dry
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the savings that come with hang drying your clothes. Hang drying also help maintain longevity as drying clothes regularly breaks down fibers. If time is of the essence and you have to use the dryer, however, dry one load after the other to reduce warm up and dry times. Don’t forget to clean lint screens to ensure it runs efficiently.
Swap out light bulbs
Turning off lights as you leave a room isn’t the only way to reduce energy use. By simply swapping out incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), you’re looking at cutting energy use throughout your home. CFLs use about 75% less energy than incandescent ones and last six to 15 times as long, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Plug in to power strips
All the gadgets you have plugged in throughout your home like computers, TVs and even mobile chargers continue to use energy even in the off mode. Commonly referred to as “ energy vampires ,” the best defense against wasted electricity use from these devices to use a power strip. This is because you can turn off the power strip off and completely cut off energy consumption.
Turn down the water heater
Some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140ºF, but most households usually only require them to be set at 120ºF. According to, consumers are wasting approximately $400 annually per household on this increased temperature. Simply turn down the water heater thermostat to 120ºF and switch it to the lowest setting or completely off when you go away for a few days to cut energy costs further.
Power down cable boxes
A recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found hat set-top cable boxes consume $3 billion in electricity per year in the United States. What’s more, 66%of that power is wasted when no one is watching TV and shows are not being recorded. Save money by powering down your cable box when not in use.  For those who don’t want to wait for that reboot delay, simply set an inexpensive lamp timer that switches the power to the cable box off when you leave for work in the morning and powers it back up before you arrive home in the evening. 
Get with the program
Install a programmable thermostat to control temperatures throughout the day and night so you don’t waste energy cooling your home when no one is there. Experts estimate that a programmable thermostat saves consumers an average of $180 a year on electricity costs. You can find these tech tools at stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot starting for as little as $25.
Comments on this article