The warm weather season is upon us, which can only mean one thing: Your electric bill is about to skyrocket. Whether you're running your air conditioner around the clock or spending more time indoors working from home, the price of being inside all the time can get expensive.
Fortunately, there are several simple steps you can take at home to lower the cost of your electric bill. From blackout curtains to smart power strips and more, scroll down for eight easy ways to save energy and money this spring and summer.
1. Hang blackout curtains.
If you aren't already privy to the power of blackout curtains, then now's the time to smarten up. Composed of thicker materials than traditional drapes, blackout curtains are designed to block out sunlight, so hanging them in your window can help keep your home cool against the hot summer sun and as a result, reduce the need to run your A/C nonstop.
2. Switch to LED light bulbs.
Like it or not, those cheap incandescent light bulbs you buy at the grocery store are costing you way more money in the long run. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, energy-efficient light bulbs, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), use up to 80 percent less energy than incandescent ones, so switching to LED light bulbs at home will quickly lower your electric bill.
3. Replace your A/C filter.
If you aren't replacing the air filter in your air conditioning unit regularly, you're doing it wrong. The function of an air filter is to trap airborne debris so it doesn't circulate throughout your home, and if it gets too dirty, your whole A/C has to work harder — and use more energy. Replace the air filter in your A/C at least once a year to ensure it runs smoothly without driving up your electric bill.
4. Use smart power strips to charge certain electronics.
Did you know that some electronic devices, especially ones with remote controls like printers and plasma TVs, never actually power off — they just sit in standby mode (and run up your energy bill) when not in use. Good news: Smart power strips are designed to cut off the electric current when devices go in standby mode, so using them to charge certain electronics at home will save energy and money.
5. Invest in a programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat is a many-splendored device. Not only does it allow you to program the temperature of your home according to the time of day without adjusting it manually, you can opt to set your thermostat at more cost-efficient levels when you're not home or sleeping, so you'll automatically save moolah.
6. Seal leaks in your doors and windows.
A little crack in your window can add up to big bucks during the warm weather season. Check your doors and windows for gaps, leaks, and openings and seal them up with weatherproof tape to prevent hot air from coming in from outside (and prompting you to turn up your A/C) and cool air from escaping.
7. Change your refrigerator and freezer temperature.
It might seem like NBD, but even the slightest adjustment to your fridge and freezer temperature can save you a bunch over time. If you keep the temps of your fridge and freezer lower than necessary, you'll just wind up driving up your energy use and bill. Instead, set your fridge to 38 degrees and your freezer to no less than 0 degrees — or the "colder" not "coldest" settings — to keep your food fresh or frozen without overspending.
8. Buy a smart dimmer switch.
Installing a smart dimmer switch at home will be a gift that keeps on giving. Along with letting you set the exact brightness in a room to suit your needs, a voice-or-app-enabled dimmer light switch allows you to turn your lights on and off from another room — or another state — so you won't accrue unnecessary charges on your electric bill.