Why are your electric bills so high in the summer? There are several factors that can cause an unusually high electric bill: your bill could be inaccurate, the price of electricity could have increased or your electricity usage could be higher.
Verify Your Bill
Look at your electricity bills from this time last year. Is your kilowatt-hour (kWh) usage similar to your current usage? If you did not live in your current home last year, find out the average summer electric bill for homes in your area. Keep in mind electricity usage of individual dwellings will vary based on the size of the home, energy-efficiency of the home and what kind of weather the home normally sees during this time of the year.
If your usage seems abnormally high when compared to last year, you can try verifying that your bill matches your meter reading. Find the current meter read on your bill and check your meter for your kWh usage. Your meter should read a little higher than the current meter read on your bill. If your meter is reading lower, your bill could be inaccurate. You can call your electricity provider to have them reevaluate your usage
Increasing Electricity PricesFor many areas, summer sparks higher energy demand, causing the market price to increase. If you are on a variable-rate plan, you may see your energy rate increase this season. Even on a fixed-rate plan, you may see increased electric rates if you’ve switched or renewed electricity plans in the last year.
Increased Energy UsageWe tend to use more electricity in the summer. The hotter it is outside, the more we stay inside using electronics and appliances, and the harder our ACs have to work to keep our homes at our preferred temperatures. These are a few reasons you could be using more energy this summer:
- The kids are home from school. School’s out for summer, and the kids are constantly looking for entertainment with TV, computers and other electronics. During the heat of the day, the whole family is likely to be home seeking refuge from the high temperatures – using lights, electronics, and most of all, air conditioning.
- High temperatures. On average, the hottest months are July and August. The larger the gap between the outside temperatures and inside temperatures, the harder your AC has to work to keep your home comfortably cool.
- Your pool is in constant use. Pools provide a great way to cool off and have fun in the summer, but your electric pool pump can use a lot of energy. On average, your pool pump can add about $80-$90 to your monthly energy bill if you keep it running 24 hours a day for the entire month.
How can I make my home more energy efficient in the summer?Those of us who have experienced extreme heat might be familiar with summer’s effects on our energy bills. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to lower your electricity bill this summer.
- Raise your thermostat. You could save up to 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bill by setting your temperature back 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours a day. In the summer, we recommend setting your thermostat to around 78 degrees when you’re home and as high as tolerable when you’re away or asleep. Try an experiment with your family and see how much you can comfortably raise the temperature in your home.
- Check your filters. Clean or change your air filters regularly to maintain proper airflow and keep your HVAC system working efficiently. Check out our guide on choosing the right air filter for your home.
- Clear space around your air vents. Make sure your vents aren’t blocked by furniture or other obstructions. Clearing the space around vents will help better circulate cool air.
- Get an AC tuneup. Call a professional to make sure your cooling system is in good health and working as efficiently as possible to make the most of your cooling dollar.
- Use energy-saving features on window units. Many window units are ENERGY STAR-rated and have special modes that conserve energy, but few people use them and instead keep the fan running all the time, even when the air conditioning component is off. All this does is create a constant energy drain. Use the energy saver modes or turn the fan to auto and shave a few cents off the electric bill.
- Light your home efficiently. Make the upgrade to LED bulbs. They use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Plus, they emit less heat, which means less work for you AC. Don’t forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room.
- Make your attic energy-efficient. Attics can reach well over 100 degrees and make it difficult for a central air unit to cool a home, leading to higher electric bills. Upgrade your attic insulation if needed and install an attic fan to give the central air a break.
- Seal your windows and doors. Don’t let the cool air escape and hot air enter through drafts in your doors or windows. Test your seals with this trick: put a dollar between the door or window and the seal, and close it. If you can easily pull the dollar out, it’s time to replace the seal. Install weather stripping or re-caulk the drafty areas.
- Save energy doing laundry. To keep costs down in your laundry room, wash and dry full loads and wash in cold water. If you can, hang your laundry to dry. This will save energy and reduce wear and tear on your clothes.
- Adjust your water heater temperature. The recommended temperature for most water heaters is 120F. Using this recommended setting will save energy and prevent safety hazards.
- Unplug unused electronics. Standby power accounts for an average household energy cost of $100 a year. Use surge protectors to easily switch these electronics off and prevent them from using standby power.
- Check your refrigerator efficiency. If your fridge is too cold, it could be costing you money. Check with the manufacturer to find the recommended temperature settings. Check to make sure your refrigerator is not letting out any cold air with the aforementioned dollar test.
- Keep your refrigerator full. Solids and liquids are easier to cool than air. Make sure not to overfill it so that you leave enough room for air circulation.
- Wear breathable clothing. Wear comfortable clothing fit for warm temperatures to lessen the need for AC.
- Close your drapes. Close drapes on west- and south-facing windows to prevent extra heat from getting into your home. Dark, thick drapes provide more insulation and defense from the sun’s heat.
- Plant trees and shrubs for shade. These take a while to grow, so this is something of a long-term strategy, but carefully placed shade trees and shrubs can assist your drapes in keeping warm sunlight from fighting your air conditioner. Plant trees on the east, west and northwest sides of the house for maximum shade protection, making sure not to plant them too close to your home.
- Use ceiling fans. Create airflow with ceiling fans to make yourself feel cooler. Remember to turn them off when you leave the room.
- Maintain your pool. Consider upgrading your pool pump to a more energy-efficient model to help you save on summer fun. Keep your pool filters clean so they can run efficiently.
- Use your oven sparingly. Your oven can produce a lot of heat and make your whole house hotter, causing your AC to work harder. Instead of using the oven, try recipes that use a slow cooker, microwave, toaster oven, electric pressure cooker or no appliances at all. Cool meals like pasta salads will help to keep you cool. Check out our energy efficient recipe ideas.
- Reduce your home’s humidity.The discomfort we feel in the summer is often due not just to hot temperatures, but also high humidity. Reduce the humidity in your home by using a dehumidifier, turning on your ventilation fans while cooking and showering and maintaining your outdoor water drainage.