Curb Summertime Cooling Costs with Energy-Saving Tips
Customers can beat the heat while lowering monthly cooling bills
For Mississippians, hot and humid weather is a fact of life—but that doesn’t mean high cooling bills have to be. Through its Beat the Heat initiative, Starkville Utilities is helping customers gain more control over summertime energy expenses by sharing do-it-yourself tips that can lower bills without sacrificing comfort.
“Air conditioners not only make homes comfortable but also protect people from the health consequences of extreme heat,” said Edward Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities. “With summers getting hotter, this is a good time for customers to use Beat the Heat strategies throughout their homes to increase efficiency, lower bills and stay cool.”
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a typical family spends nearly $2,000 annually on home energy bills, but much of that is wasted through leaky windows and ducts, old appliances and inefficient heating and cooling systems.
These steps can help customers conserve energy and money during hot weather:
- Keep cold air in and hot air out. 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. Clean all areas to be caulked and remove any old caulk and paint with a putty knife or large screwdriver. Make sure the area is dry so you don’t seal in moisture.
- Use fans and other ventilation strategies. A ceiling fan allows you to raise thermostats about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. During summer months, ceiling fan blades should spin counterclockwise, creating a cool breeze and pushing air down. Turn off fans when you leave the room; fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect.
- 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 and keep doors shut to those rooms.
- Operate thermostats efficiently. Keep your house warmer than normal when you’re away and lower the thermostat only when you are home. Don’t set the thermostat at a colder-than-normal setting when you return—it won’t cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.
- Routinely replace AC filters. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your AC’s energy consumption by 5-15%. Clean or replace your filter(s) every month or two during the summer. Filters may need more frequent attention if the AC is in constant use, is subjected to dusty conditions or you have fur-bearing pets inside.
- Seal up window units: At the start of each cooling season, inspect the seal between the air conditioner and window frame to ensure the frame contacts the unit’s metal case. Moisture can damage this seal, allowing cool air to escape from your house.
- 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 such as chargers, TVs and computers when not in use. The DOE reports that so-called “standby power” accounts for 5-10% of residential energy use and could cost the average U.S. household as much as $100 a year.
- Lower water-heating costs. Water heating accounts for about 18% of home energy use. Although some manufacturers set water heaters at 140ºF, a setting of 120ºF is sufficient for most households and slows mineral buildup and corrosion in the water heater and pipes. Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes and consider air drying them. Washing and rinsing clothes with cold water can save around $200 annually.
Through its partnership with TVA, Starkville Utilities offers several energy-saving incentives and solutions for residential customers through the TVA EnergyRight program.
Customers also may visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s website at www.energy.gov 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.