Recent record heat along with the current heat wave in Philadelphia have local residents using a lot more electricity. How do you stay cool and keep your electric bill from going out of control? Here are some simple and practical ways to help you do both.
Arrange an HVAC inspection to make sure your air-conditioning system is operating at its best. Leaking air ducts, low coolant levels and clogged water vents all drive down the best performance you can get from your system. Inspections usually cost $50 to $100 but that can be made back and more with electricity savings during the summer cooling season.
Run your dishwasher at night. This appliance vents hot steam during its drying cycle. Steam is full of hot water which means your air conditioning system runs that much longer to keep you cool. Washing machines, dryers and ovens all generate heat in your home during hot summer hours. Run these appliances at night when the outside temperatures go down making it easier for your AC to keep you cool.
Clean your air filters monthly for central air and individual window or wall units. Dirty filters block air flow thus decreasing the best of the cool air your system can deliver to you during the day.
Make sure you have and use a programmable thermostat. Set the thermostat at low cool during the day when you are at work or out for the day which allows your system to continue to keep the air in your home relatively dry and therefore cooler. Then set the thermostat to go down about an hour or so before you come home in the afternoon or evening. According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Star program, such timings could cut the average residential electric bill by $180 a year, according to Energy Star.gov.
Replace your incandescent light bulbs. Switching from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents can cut home electric bills as they use less electricity and generate a lot less heat than standard bulbs. Savings average $35 per bulb change out in electricity savings over the projected 10-year life of the bulb. PECO may offer discounts on such products.
Keep your blinds closed. Without shades or curtains to limit the sunlight, rooms heat up fast making your AC work harder. This is particularly true of south, southwest and west facing windows. Use room and ceiling fans to help out your AC. The idea is to spread that good cold AC air around quickly and evenly in your home. If it feels a little too cool then lower the AC setting which will increase your savings. Make sure you turn the fans off when you are not in the room.
Unplug those little black boxes attached to your electronics. Home electronic devices have small transformers which use electricity when they are plugged in and even though you are not using the device. These ‘electricity vampires’ can account for as much as 10% of your electricity use, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Use multiple outlet power strips to plug in as many as these devices as possible and then hit the off switch on the outlet strip when not in use.
Call PECO and ask if they offer time-of-use plans. This means shifting the heavier use of your PECO electricity from peak hours, 7:00AM to 7:00PM to mid evening through early morning. Be aware most time of use plans require users to pay more during peak hours as an incentive to stick to off peak time of day use.
Stay cool and manage your electricity costs, it’s worth the effort.
To learn about the Energy Star Program: http://www.energystar.gov/, click on “Save Energy At Home”
To learn about these and more ways to save on your electric bill check out PECO’s web site:http://www.pecosmartideas.com/