Summer break can be a recipe for high electric bills if kids are home all day enjoying cool indoor air. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 9 percent of Americans’ household energy costs are dedicated to air conditioning alone, so try these tips to keep costs down when the temperature rises.
Avoid ‘phantom’ load
Get your family in the habit of turning electronics on and off via power strips. As electronics and appliances become more technology savvy, they often draw power even while turned off. A good indicator of this — called “phantom load” — is to check the device for a light that stays on all the time.
Phantom load will add a few watt-hours to energy consumption, but a few watt-hours on each of your many electronic devices adds up. To avoid this silent power draw, unplug the device or invest in a “smart” power strip, which allows certain electronics to continue using electricity while others can be completely shut down.
More people in the house plus doors hanging open from the last trip to play outside plus high temperatures equals an air-conditioning unit that has to work harder to keep the house cool. Be sure to adjust settings to maximize efficiency, such as using the “auto” function instead of keeping the fan running all the time.
Regular maintenance to keep your air conditioner or heat pump in good working order is a good idea, as is checking and changing the air filter every few months or if it’s dirty.
Also, set your thermostat as high as you can while maintaining your comfort level. — U.S. Department of Energy, Cooperative Research Network