Easy ways to cut your summer energy bills

The quickest way to lower your energy costs is to conserve.

Here are some simple things you can do that will help you save energy this summer:

Give your stove a rest. A microwave oven uses two-thirds less energy than your stove to cook and heat food. Other energy-savers: grilling outdoors or enjoying cold, healthy soups and salads as the main course.

Load the dishwasher. It uses less water — and less energy to heat the water — than washing dishes by hand. Deselect the “heated dry” option to let your dishes air dry, and you’ll save even more. 

Keep the refrigerator full. A full fridge uses less energy than a partly empty one because the cold food prevents it from warming up too fast every time you open the door.

Inch up your thermostat. If you dress in light clothing and turn on your ceiling fans while the air conditioning is running, you’ll be comfortable at 78 degrees. You’ll save between 1% and 3% on your cooling bill for every degree you move your thermostat higher than 72. By running your air conditioner and ceiling fan together your house will feel 4 degrees cooler. 

Remember to turn ceiling fans off when you leave a room. Fans cool people, not the air.

Run the dishwasher and pool pump, and do the laundry after dark. It’s most expensive to use electricity when everyone else is using it. 

Turn on the dishwasher, washing machine and clothes dryer only when they’re completely full.

Unplug the refrigerator in your garage. A half-empty, out-of-date refrigerator trying to keep items cold in a hot, uninsulated garage is one of your home’s biggest energy hogs.

Replace air conditioner filters every month in the summer.

Move lamps, the TV or any other heat-emitting electric appliance away from your thermostat. The heat can trick the thermostat into “thinking” it’s hotter in the house than it is. In response, it will make the house colder than it should.

Lower the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees. That will save you money — and it’s safer than a higher setting because 120 degree water won’t scald anyone.

Install a programmable thermostat. It’s truly one of the best ways to save energy, and not just in the summer. The catch: It doesn’t save energy if you don’t program it. Tell it to raise the temperature of your home by at least seven degrees when everyone leaves the house for the day, and four degrees at bedtime.