26 Energy Leaks Making You Pay More Than You Should

The rising summer heat also leads to rising energy use and growing utility bills. Understandably, you want relief from blazing temperatures so you crank up the AC. Furthermore, life’s busy, so it’s only natural that you want to toss the laundry into the dryer.

But before you succumb to these energy-suckers, check out these tips to beat the summer heat.

1. Install A Programmable Thermostat

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Why waste energy by cooling a house when nobody’s home? If you find it tricky to remember to adjust your AC whenever you’re leaving home, program your thermostat to do it for you. A programmable thermostat makes it a breeze to keep your home warmer when you’re away during the day or out of town.

2. Switch To ENERGY STAR LED Light Bulbs

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LEDs use much less energy than other types of light bulbs. Switch out your old bulbs with LEDs that feature the ENERGY STAR label. These bulbs typically cost more upfront, but they save you in the long run because they last much longer than incandescent and halogen lights.

3. Air Dry Laundry

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Take advantage of sunny, warm days to line dry clothes, sheets, and towels. You’ll save on energy, and running the dryer will not generate extra heat indoors. Use an indoor drying rack, over-the-door multi-hook, or shower rod on rainy days to air-dry laundry.

4. Open Windows In The Morning And Evening

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The biggest source of energy usage in most homes is air conditioning. Therefore, in the early morning and evening, when the air is cooler, open the windows and turn off the AC. Not running your HVAC constantly will reduce energy consumption and help prolong your unit’s lifespan. Plus, the fresh air from the open windows helps keep viruses at bay.

5. Unplug Devices When You Aren’t Using Them

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Have you heard the terms “phantom power” or “vampire devices?” It describes those devices and appliances that stay plugged in, sucking power, even when you’re not using them. Unplug electronics and small appliances when not in use. Use power strips to make the process easier. Simply shut off the strip to prevent phantom power loss.

6. Take Advantage Of Natural Light

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Let the sun shine inside and brighten your space by opening curtains and blinds to take advantage of natural light. If there’s enough natural light in a room, leave interior lights off to save energy. When you’re not in a room, don’t forget to close the curtains and pull the shades to keep the space cool.

7. Use Solar Lighting Outside

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Replace outdoor lights with solar options. Solar-powered lights soak up the sun during the day and store it for use at night instead of draining electricity. There are tons of styles available for gardens, walkways, hanging lights, outdoor sconces, gazebo chandeliers, and more.

8. Set Up A Home Energy Audit

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Talk with your utility company or learn how you can do a DIY home energy audit. These audits involve walking through your home, inside and outside, to identify any potential places where your home could be more energy-efficient.

Professionals use special tools to gauge how much energy your home is using in certain areas. This review accurately shows how much you could save (energy and money) when you make a few changes.

9. Keep Up With A/C Maintenance And Service

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Have a professional HVAC specialist service your unit twice a year, once before summer and once before winter. A thorough assessment, check-up, and cleaning of your AC ensures it’s in tip-top shape before it starts working overtime during the blazing summer months. Also, change your filters regularly and address any potential problems quickly to maintain the integrity of your system.

10. Set The A/C Higher 8 Hours A Day

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Setting your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees higher for approximately 8 hours a day saves energy and lowers your costs by about 10 percent. Before you leave for work, adjust the dial to make your home several degrees warmer and turn it down when you return home. If you have a programmable thermostat this is much easier to do.

If you’re heading out of town for an extended time, turn your unit off while you’re away. If you can control your thermostat from your smartphone, turn the AC up before you get home so it’s cool when you arrive.

11. Lower The Temperature On Your Water Heater

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Check the temperature setting on your water heater. If it’s cranked all the way up, it’s time to turn it down. Setting the temperature too high is not only potentially dangerous but also consumes more energy.

The recommended setting for water heaters is between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This range decreases the risk of scalding burns, saves energy, and reduces the amount of corrosion and mineral buildup in pipes.

12. Install Low-Flow Showerheads

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There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take a hot shower, but reducing your energy usage is still possible. A low-flow showerhead reduces the amount of water you use, which means less water to heat. Today’s modern low-flow showerheads have come a long way, so you won’t feel like you’re compromising on the quality of your shower experience.

13. Use Ceiling Fans

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Set the AC warmer and use ceiling fans to keep cool. Keep this little tidbit in mind, though: ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. So if you leave a room with no plans to return immediately, don’t forget to turn off the fan.

14. Enjoy Some Grill Time

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Give your appliances a break and enjoy some backyard barbecues or dinners on the grill with family and friends. You’ll save energy by not running your appliances as much. Plus, you won’t generate extra heat inside from the oven or stove, which could make you crank up the AC.

15. Seal Gaps And Cracks

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Grab a caulk gun and seal around the window and door frames and any cracks you find on your home’s exterior. Use weatherstripping on the moveable parts of windows and doors.

You want the cool air to stay inside and the heat to stay out. For larger gaps, try a foam sealant. If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper in the flue remains tightly closed when not in use.

16. Turn On Bathroom Exhaust Fans

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Get moisture and hot, steamy air out of your bathroom during a bath or shower using an exhaust fan. It prevents heat and humidity from building up inside your home. It’s also a good idea to get the moisture out as soon as possible to prevent mildew and mold issues.

17. Don’t Forget To Turn Out The Lights

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Switch off all lights when you leave a room and encourage other members of the household to do the same. Use light switch extenders for children or anyone who has difficulty reaching the switch. If you prefer to have a light on when you return home, use a smart bulb and set a timer.

18. Use Blackout Curtains

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There are basically two types of curtains. The first has a single layer that is merely decorative, provides privacy, and filters minimal light. The second has an additional layer that blocks out almost all light. Use blackout curtains in windows where the sun gets most intense. They prevent the sun from raising your home’s interior temperature and forcing you to use too much AC.

19. Wash Clothes In Cold Water

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Choose a laundry detergent that works well in cold water and wash linens and clothing using the cold water setting. This isn’t always possible; for example, you need to wash sheets in hot water to kill dust mites. But if you switch to cold water whenever you can, you’ll help reduce your energy usage.

20. Thaw Frozen Food Before Cooking

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Cooking frozen food takes a lot longer, which means it uses a lot more energy. Thaw frozen food in the fridge overnight instead to reduce cooking time. It takes only minimal planning, basically knowing what you want to eat the next day so you can put it in the refrigerator the day before. The bonus advantage is you won’t have to wait as long for dinner to be ready.

21. Check Your Refrigerator And Freezer Settings

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Maintaining the proper temperature in your refrigerator and freezer is critical for food safety. But don’t overdo it because then you waste energy unnecessarily. Aim to keep your fridge at 40 degrees and your freezer at 5 degrees. Also, check the rubber seals around the doors to ensure they are intact.

22. Wait Until The Dishwasher Is Full Before Using It

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Don’t run the dishwasher until it’s full. If you just need one or two items washed, hand wash them instead. Otherwise, wait until you have a full load to do the dishes.

23. Cook More Servings

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Cooking large batches of food at once can limit the amount of time you use appliances. Cook in bulk, portion out servings, and store them in the freezer for future meals. This tip saves energy and can also be a big time saver.

24. Close Interior Doors When Not Using Rooms

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If nobody is in a room, you may think cooling it is a waste of energy. However, shutting all of the doors in your home can actually impede your HVAC’s energy efficiency and the air quality in your home. Instead, leave interior doors open as much as possible to allow for proper airflow and efficient cooling of your house.

25. Use The Microwave Instead Of The Oven

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Cooking in the microwave uses significantly less energy than in the oven. It’s true that certain foods taste better when you make them in the oven, but the microwave still does the trick when it comes to many meals. Therefore, when possible, prepare dishes in the micro to reduce energy consumption. It’s also a lot faster, so there’s another positive.

26. Assess Your Appliances

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If your appliances are older or not functioning well, they could be using more energy than you think. Assess how your oven, refrigerator, washing machine, and other devices are working and consider their ages. If it’s time to upgrade your appliances, choose those with an ENERGY STAR rating to improve efficiency and reduce energy consumption in your home.