Summer in North Texas brings lots of fun—swimming, travel, endless sunny days. But, all that sunshine also results in extremely hot weather, which can lead to increased utility bills—and higher demand on the Texas electric grid. Consider taking steps now to help control your energy usage at home and work. You could lower your bills AND help conserve energy. That makes sense for you and for your neighbors!
In the winter, an electric furnace can cause a spike in electricity usage, leading to high bills. In some cases, it can take more energy to heat your home in winter than to cool it in the summer because the “comfortable” temperature setting for the thermostat is farther away from the average outside temperature.
So, what can you do to reduce usage?
Year-round savings tips
- Make the "smart" choice in thermostats.
Installing a "smart" thermostat can save you an estimated 10 percent per year. Designed to save you energy, a smart thermostat can learn your schedule and adjust your home’s temperature to save money and energy while you are away–while making sure it is a comfortable temperature in anticipation of your return.
- Reduce your hot water temperature.
Set your water heater to the "normal" setting or 120-degrees Fahrenheit. The exception would be if the owner's manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting. Also, wrapping your hot water heater in an insulation blanket may save you money, especially if you water heater is in the garage or an outdoor closet.
- Wash clothes in cold water.
An estimated 75 to 90 percent of all the energy used to wash a load of laundry comes from using hot water. Switching to colder water makes every load more efficient and could lower your electric or gas bill.
- Adjust your pool pump.
If you have a pool, be sure to run the pool pump no more than one hour per 10 degrees of daily average temperature. For example, if it’s 50 degrees, the pool pump should run for five hours. You should also set it to run during the early morning when it’s coldest outside. Also, be sure to set the freeze protection at 35 degrees.
- Put your fans to work while you are in the room.
A ceiling fan can create a wind chill, making the room seem as much as 4–6 degrees cooler. Set your fan to spin counterclockwise in the summer, but don't forget to turn off the fan when you leave the room.
Even in winter, ceiling fans can be used to help manage the interior climate. Ceiling fans should be clockwise in the winter, and the fan should run at the lowest speed. This pulls cool air up toward the ceiling, which in turn displaces the warm air that rises and collects near the ceiling.
- Seal up any leaks around windows and doors.
Check for and seal leaks around pipes, vents or electrical conduits that go through the wall, ceiling or floor. Look for leaks in bathrooms, underneath the kitchen sink, around pipes inside closets, etc. And don’t forget your outlet covers! Blocking the drafts and leaks around these sneaky areas will help you in hot AND cold weather!
- Check your insulation.
Insulation helps slow down the transfer of heat to cold and a lack of it allows heat to enter your home, increasing your bill. Talk with a professional in your area to determine if your current insulation is adequate.
- Service your HVAC system twice a year.
Make sure your HVAC has been tuned up so your cooling system will run as efficiently as possible. Don't forget to change your air filter per manufacturer recommendations! Leaky HVAC ducts and dirty filters put additional strain on your unit, resulting in higher usage.
- Put your blinds and curtains to work.
Move blinds and curtains to avoid direct sunlight coming into your home. Those rays really warm up your home if not blocked. Thermal drapes or blackout curtains make an even bigger difference!
In the winter, open curtains and blinds during the day to let sunlight in; close them at night to insulate against outside air.
Summer savings tips
- Turn up your thermostat, small changes can make a big difference.
If you are leaving home for more than 4 hours, set your thermostat 5–7 degrees higher. Adjusting your thermostat 2–3 degrees higher in the afternoon and early evening will also help. Make sure to not turn off your system, which can result in excess usage to cool your home when you return.
- Avoid using large appliances like ovens and washing machines during peak times.
Late afternoon and early evenings are the time when the most power is used during hot weather—and ovens and other large appliances can really heat up a room. Warm weather may also be a great time to consider hanging clothes outside to dry, taking advantage of those same sun rays.
- Consider lowering the number of hours you use your pool pump.
Running the pool pump early in the morning or overnight will help with high-demand times on the grid.
- Give yourself time to adjust to the warmer weather!
Research shows it can take our bodies up to two weeks to adjust to new environments, including temperature changes. You can do it—and save energy and money in the process!
Winter savings tips
- Turn down your thermostat, small changes can make a big difference.
Every degree above 68 degrees increases heating costs by up to 5 percent. Lower your thermostat 5-7 degrees when leaving home for more than 4 hours. However, if you have a heat pump, only reduce your thermostat setting 1-2 degrees when leaving home so the more energy intensive heating coils won't have to kick in to get the home back to 68 degrees when you return. Avoid using personal heaters as they can be unsafe and very costly.
- Check the flue on your fireplace.
Be sure to close the flue on your fireplace when not in use and avoid using electric fireplaces.
- Have your furnace professionally serviced.
A professional will make sure it is operating safely and efficiently. If you have a heat pump, make sure your outside unit is serviced as well.