Creative Ways to Save on Energy Costs

We've all heard it before:  Close the vents in rooms you don't use, regularly replace your AC filters and vacuum the coils on your fridge.  But what if you're following all the conventional energy-saving tips and your summertime electricity bill is still astronomical?

Here's where we come in!  You know how much we at Health Care Family Credit Union love helping you save money.  So we've compiled a list of 10 creative ways to lower your electricity bill - even when the humidity is thicker than pancake mix.  And don't worry; you won't find any mention of refrigerator coils here!

1.)  Plant some trees and shrubs
Trees are a whole lot more than oxygen-breathing beauties; they're also your kep to trimming your electricity bill.
Take a good look at your home's exterior walls.  If there are lots of west-facing windows, you're likely getting loads of sunlight each afternoon that's heating your home and forcing your AC unit to work harder.  By planting trees and shrubs in front of some of these windows, you'll lower your energy usage in a clean - and green - way.

2.)  Go solar
Getting your home's electricity through solar panels is wonderful - and also incredibly expensive.  If you'd love to go green on your home's energy but can't afford solar, consider leasing the panels instead of buying them.  You'll be given a set monthly fee, which makes budgeting easier, with no surprises during high-energy times of year.  Also, according to Jonathan Bass of SolarCity, the monthly payment for leasing solar panels is often 15% less than the local utility rate.

3.)  Rethink your roof
Is your roof dressed in black for 90-degree weather?  No wonder your home is so warm!  Consider installing a sunlight-reflecting "cool roof" or adding an approved coating to your roof that will deflect heat.  Both can reduce your roof's temperature by up to 60 degrees, which can then trim your AC use by as much as 20%.

4.)  Keep your cool
Large, heat-generating appliances can warm up a room quickly.  Consider running your washing machine and dishwasher at night or in the early morning when it's cooler outside.

5.)  Lighten up
Lighting generally eats up 25% of residential electricity bills.  Listen to what your dad always told you and shut the lights in a room when you walk out.  Also, consider leaving lights off completely if it's sunny out and your windows are open.  Lastly, switch to CFL and LED bulbs.  By swapping out just five heat-generating incandescent light bulbs in a high-traffic area in your home, you can save $65 a year on energy costs.

6.)  Fix leaky windows and doors
If your home isn't a new build, you likely have leaking windows and doors.  Caulking regularly shrinks.  Structural walls of houses tend to shift with time.

To check if your doors and windows are leaking air, thus making your AC put in extra effort to keep you cool, run the match test.  Shut off your AC, and close all doors and windows.  Light a match and hold it near the windows and exterior doors of your house.  You'll see an air flow if the flame moves, meaning there are leaks.

And, if you've got air leaks, you can easily reseal your windows by weather-stripping the problem areas.  Your leaky door may need a door sweep replacement.  Just peel off the old one and bring it to a home improvement shop so they can help you find a new one that fits your door.

Sealing leaks is easy, economical and can cut your energy costs by 30%

7.)  Get smart!
We live in the age of the smart ... everything!  By installing a smart thermostat, your home will be programmed to cool off at exactly the times you need.  Best of all, you can control the settings even when you're away from home.  Let your AC cool off people, not empty rooms.

8.)  Pull out the plug
Did you know that up to 75% of energy consumption by home electronics happens when they're turned off?  Save money by pulling out the plugs when you're done with your electronics, both big and small.  Think toaster, coffee maker and even entertainment center.  Why pay for something you aren't using?

9.)  Fire up the grill
If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen!  An oven that's cranked up to the standard 350 degrees and a flaming stove-top will both make your AC unit work harder.  But who wants to stand over a hot stove on a beautiful summer day anyways?  Step outside for a cold picnic supper or make good use of your grill for dinner prep.  You'll keep the heat out and enjoy the glorious sunshine at the same time!

10.)  Laundry smarts
An incredible 90% of the energy used when doing laundry comes from heating the water.  When possible, choose the cold setting on your washing machine to reduce your energy consumption.  The next big culprit in electricity use in the laundry process is the dryer, consider sticking some tennis balls in there to make the dryer more efficient and help it finish its job faster.