Save Your Green While Living Green
In certain parts of Colorado, summer temps can climb into the 90s. This means your air conditioner is working overtime, and of course, the busier the A/C, the higher the electric bill. We’ve put together some tips to help you lower your bills and make the heat more (financially) bearable.
Use less energy.
This is the biggest way to save on energy costs anywhere, and we know it’s trickier than it sounds. But if you live in certain parts of Colorado, you’re being penalized in a big way for clogging the grid.
Since 2010, Colorado’s Xcel Energy customers have had tiered energy rates, which means that customers who use larger amounts of energy in the summer months, when the grid is already stressed, are penalized with higher rates on every kilowatt over 500 kilowatts per month that they consume. (For reference, the average Xcel Energy customer uses 659 kilowatts per month during June, July, and August.)
It works like this: Xcel bills your first 500 kilowatts of energy at a lower rate, so if you are very conservative with your energy use, you may actually save money under the tiered system. But anything over 500 kilowatts is billed at an inflated rate, to discourage heavy users from overburdening the grid. So check your statements and keep your usage in check. Otherwise, it could add up fast!
Pretend that your A/C has two modes: 78 degrees and off.
Each degree below 78 will increase your energy consumption by about four percent. That means, if you set your A/C at 75 rather than 78, you’re increasing your energy bill by about 12 percent.
On warm days, don’t use your A/C. Open windows and doors to catch cross-breezes. Turn on fans rather than your A/C. A stand-alone fan uses about 100 watts of energy, and a ceiling fan uses between 15-95 watts, as opposed to 3,500 watts for central A/C and 500-1,000 watts for a window unit. A ceiling fan can cool a room between three and eight degrees.
Purchase energy-efficient appliances.
If it’s time to purchase a new central A/C system or window unit, opt for an energy efficient model. In fact, if it’s time to update any of your appliances—a refrigerator, a washing machine, a hot water heater, an oven, etc., purchase an energy-efficient model.
Make your current appliances more energy-efficient.
Is your fridge set at below 37 degrees? If so, bump it back up. Are you air filters filthy? Change them at least every three months, and your A/C will run more efficiently. Do you really need a 150-degree shower when it’s 85 degrees out? Set your water heater temp lower (to about 120 degrees), and notice the change in your bill.
Make intentional choices.
Replace any vintage light-bulbs with LED bulbs. Grill outside, to avoid heating up the house with the oven. Run your dishwasher and washing machine at night, to avoid racking up high peak-hour rates. Wash your clothes in cold water, since heating water uses more energy than actually running your washing machine. Turns off fans and lights when you leave a room.
Unplug your devices.
Routinely unplug any device with an LED screen, clock or light, since a fancy coffee-maker or toaster, a microwave, a TV, cable-box, or anything else that has a light or clock will use electricity even when it’s off. If you’re not using that extra mini-fridge, unplug, drain, and store it.
Get an attic or whole house fan.
An attic or whole house fan may cool your house or attic up to 10 degrees and help you save 10 percent on A/C. And a house fan can be run by solar panels, making it even more energy-efficient. In some cases, a large fan may eliminate the need for A/C altogether. But for an attic fan to work properly, your attic must be well-insulated.
Do a home energy self-audit.
The federal government’s Home Energy Saver site lets you enter specific details about your location and your home and appliances, and estimates how much you could be saving with specific energy-efficient upgrades.
Get a professional energy audit.
You may qualify for a free home energy audit. Even if you don’t, it may be worthwhile to have a trained energy auditor visit your home, check out your bills and insulation, and give you some expert tips on making your house more energy-efficient.
Line dry your clothes.
You’ll save about $0.50 a load.
Install solar panels.
If you live in an area that gets plenty of sun, you could save about $50,000 in electricity costs over several decades.
Considering making energy-efficient upgrades on your home? Make sure your investment is protected by checking in your local Farm Bureau insurance agent about the homeowners coverage you have and the homeowners coverage you should have.