When the mercury climbs, summer energy bills climb with them – primarily because we are using more water and air conditioning. U.S. News and World Report suggests eight easy ways to keep your energy bills in check:
Check the hot water heater – Most likely, it is set for 140 degrees. Turning it down to 120 degrees, sufficient for most water use, can save you 6 to 10 percent on your bill. But check your dishwasher’s manual first. Newer models may require 140 degree temps for optimal performance.
Don’t turn on the oven – Cooking meals with a toaster oven, electric skillet, slow cooker or microwave uses far less energy.
Turn off the ceiling fan when leaving home – Ceiling fans don’t really cool. They only circulate air. But they do use energy, so turn them off when you leave home and on again when you return.
Use electric fans – they use far less energy than electric air conditioning, and they may be all you need to keep cool, especially in the mornings and evenings.
Dust the fridge coils – when the coils underneath or behind the refrigerator are covered with dust, the appliance is working harder and costing you more money.
Check fridge and freezer temps – The ideal refrigerator temperature is between 37 and 40 degrees, and the ideal freezer reading is 5 degrees. Any colder, and you're wasting money. Also note that full refrigerators and freezers do not have to work as hard to stay cool.
Replace air filters – Clogged filters can lead to air conditioners and appliance break-downs. In any case, they make appliances work harder, using more energy and dollars.
Plant trees – Planted strategically near the house, trees will create more shade as they grow and help cool off your home. According to the U.S. Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research, shade from two 25-foot tall trees -- one on the west side and one on the east -- will save a typical house $57 a year in energy costs.