It’s hot! With temperatures close to 100 degrees, there’s no doubt that summer has begun in Austin, Texas. And since summer in Austin lasts through September, it pays to look at options to create a more energy efficient home and saving on your electric bills.
Before you experience the shock of your next electric bill, know that you DO have options for getting your energy expense under control. There are a lot of ways, big and small, to save money on energy bills and every little bit counts. Personally, I think the most effective energy-saving step you could make is to pack up and leave town for a month but if you can’t do that here are a handful of inexpensive suggestions encouraged by Austin Energy.
1. If you have central air conditioning, don’t close vents in unused rooms. This could increase pressure and cause leaks in your ducts.
2. Shade outside air conditioning units. A/C units shaded by trees or other means work more efficiently and use up to 10% less electricity.
3. Clean your AC’s condenser/evaporator coils at the beginning of the season. Clean coils lower your energy costs, extend the unit’s life and provide cleaner air to breathe. The fin coils on the outside AC can actually be washed with a hose.
4. Get your AC checked. Dust on AC coils reduces the cooling effect as air passes over the coils, causing the unit to run longer than necessary.
5. Keep debris and high grass away from the condenser. These obstacles block the airflow to the unit which makes the condenser work harder and run longer.
6. Manage temperature settings. Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher in the summer. Each degree cooler than 78 increases your energy use by 6-8%. For example, setting your thermostat at 72 in the summer could increase energy use by up to 40%.
7. Repair ductwork. Ducts in the average home leak 25-30% of air conditioning. Austin Energy will do a duct test for a reasonable $50 to see if your air conditioning ducts are leaking.
We’re fortunate to live in a city that is committed to Green Living and Energy Efficiency. There’s a wealth of information available to you to help take control of your electric bills. A good place to start is at http://www.austinenergy.com for information including rebates and loans to help you cope with the summer heat in Texas.