Beat the Heat This Summer with Energy-Saving Tips from Starkville Utilities
Following a few simple steps can help lower energy costs when temperatures rise
Air conditioners will soon kick into high gear across the city as summertime rolls into the area. Through its Beat the Heat initiative, Starkville Utilities is making customers aware of small steps they can take to manage their energy costs while staying cool during the hottest days of the year.
“Electricity costs tend to rise along with the temperatures, so now is the perfect time for customers to prepare their homes for energy savings,” said Terry Kemp, Starkville Utilities general manager. “By making a few adjustments to improve efficiency, customers can beat the heat and better manage cooling costs this summer.”
The most basic step is keeping thermostats set at 78°F. For every degree you raise your thermostat above 72°F, you can save up to 3% on your cooling expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Consider taking these other simple steps to increase home energy efficiency and lower cooling costs during hot weather:
- Operate thermostats efficiently. Keep your house warmer than normal when you’re away and lower the thermostat only when you are home. However, avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you return. This doesn’t cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.
- Use fans and other ventilation strategies. A ceiling fan allows you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. Turn off ceiling fans when you leave the room; fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect. When you shower or bathe, use the bathroom fan to remove heat and humidity. Your laundry room might also benefit from spot ventilation. Make sure bathroom and kitchen fans are vented to the outside, not just to the attic.
- Keep your cooling system running efficiently. Schedule regular maintenance. Vacuum return vents regularly to remove dust buildup and ensure that furniture and other objects do not block airflow.
- Keep cold air inside and hot air outside. Seal cracks and openings to prevent warm air from leaking into your home and cold air from escaping. Add caulk or weather-stripping to seal leaky doors and windows.
- Don't heat your home with appliances and lighting. On hot days, avoid using the oven; cook on the stove, use a microwave or grill outside. Install efficient lighting that runs cooler. Minimize activities that generate excess heat, such as running a computer, burning open flames, running a dishwasher, and using curling irons, hair dryers and other hot devices. Even stereos and TVs will add some heat to your home.
- Unplug electronics to prevent them from sucking up all your summer energy. Unplugging your chargers, TV, computer and other small electronics when not in use can save up to $100 a year, according to the Department of Energy.
- Close curtains, blinds and shades to block outdoor heat from radiating inside. Try to use light, reflective window coverings to deflect the sun’s rays. Close air conditioning vents in rooms that are not in use.
- Lower your water-heating costs. Water heating accounts for about 18% of home energy use. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes, and consider air drying both dishes and clothing. Washing and rinsing clothes with cold water can save around $200 annually. Also, take short showers instead of baths.
“Making small, everyday changes in power consumption can add up to year-round cost savings,” said Kemp. “Following some or all of our Beat the Heat tips can improve energy efficiency and reduce monthly energy bills.”
Customers may visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s website and select “Save Energy, Save Money” for information about improving home energy efficiency.
Starkville Utilities is a public utility serving 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville, Mississippi as well as Mississippi State University. Its mission is to supply safe, reliable, and cost-effective electric and water service of superior quality and value that improves the lives of its customers.