The cost of electricity often soars during the summer solely from heavier air conditioner usage. Luckily, you don't have to wait for this to ruin your monthly budget. There are numerous proactive steps you can take to lower your cooling bill now that June is here and summer is upon us.
I live in South Florida, so I know a thing or two about dealing with heat. I've even had days in the middle of the winter where the AC was necessary. You don't have to deal with the huge electricity bills from your power company as a result. Let me share some tips with you that can help you lower your bill during the heat.
Adapt & Live Warmer
My first tip for dealing with higher power bills during the summer comes from my experience living in Florida. I was born in South Carolina. Summers were hot but the rest of the year was mild and cool. I used to keep my house around 73° in SC. My first summer in Florida was saved by air conditioning, but I ended up with $400 - $500 per month electric bills.
The easiest solution to this problem can be a bit tough at first. You simply need to adapt your body to be comfortable living at a warmer temperature. You can do this slowly by adjusting the temperature up one degree at a time, or you can rip off the band-aid and jump straight to your target goal. If you can handle keeping your house at 77° or even 78°, you'll save a ton of money on cooling costs.
At first it can be really uncomfortable trying to adjust, but you will get there if you're determined. I can handle day temps close to 80° inside on my third summer living in Florida. I still struggle at night though and have my thermostat programmed to make it a couple degrees cooler at night to be more comfortable sleeping.
Windows & Doors
Besides trying to keep your house too cold, the #1 reason why you have high electricity bills during the summer are your windows and doors. Your house is fairly sealed up, but the windows and doors offer openings to the inside. This is where your cold air escapes and/or the heat enters in most cases.
If you're able to afford it, the best thing to do is to upgrade the windows and doors on your house to get high energy efficiency models. By being able to seal up these holes to the inside of your house, you'll drastically reduce your power bill.
Anyone living in a new house will likely not have this problem. However, when your house was built in the 80s or 90s and has the original windows, you're almost guaranteed to have an expensive cooling bill each summer.
Attic & Crawlspace Insulation
The other main parts of your home that allow for rapid temperature changes are the attic and crawlspace. These two areas should also be insulated to provide for the lowest possible cooling costs. In addition to helping keep your house cool in the summer, this will also help your home stay warm in the winter too.
When these areas are already insulated but your bills are still high, hire a licensed professional to examine your current insulation. Old insulation in attics and crawlspaces can sometimes be exposed to moisture and/or pests that can degrade their effectiveness over time. Insulation more than 30 years old may simply need to be replaced.
With both the attic and crawlspace properly insulated in addition to the windows and doors being energy efficient, you'll notice substantial savings on your overall power bill and cooling expenses.
Energy Efficient AC Systems
Some homes may be limited by your actual air conditioner. Older models may not be working properly anymore, and they're almost guaranteed to be less energy efficient than modern AC models. By replacing an older system, you may potentially see big money savings.
Even the most efficient AC system can still deliver high energy costs if it has to run all the time. When your air conditioner runs non-stop all summer long like many do here in Florida, this is an indication that the biggest issue lies elsewhere. In this scenario, look at your windows and doors first, then your insulation.
Proper maintenance of an air conditioner is also necessary to gain the full energy saving benefits of modern models. Something as simple as not changing your air filters as often as they need to be replaced can drastically increase energy costs and even cause harm to your AC system long-term.
Solar Power Systems
One of the final recommendations is great for the environment and your monthly power bill, but it's expensive upfront. Solar panel power systems at your home can cost a lot of money to buy them and have them properly installed. However, if you are in a position to afford the initial costs it can be an excellent long-term investment.
Tesla makes a solar powered roof tile system for anyone that doesn't want panels in their yard or even visible panels on the roof of their house. These systems can be very expensive though - $100k for a house is about the average. The good news is that this system is barely noticeable, and it can power your home and Tesla car long-term.
When you're considering investing in a solar panel system, the most important thing is to weigh the cost compared with the benefits. Calculate how much the solar system will save you in electricity costs each month. You can then use that amount to figure out how long it will take until you break even on the system. If you believe the system will still function beyond that time, it could be beneficial long-term to buy.
One final thing to consider about home solar panel systems is that they usually interconnect with your local electric grid. When you have generated excess power, you can choose to send this electricity into the power grid and get paid for it by your power company. That means that it's possible to receive a check from them each month instead of sending one to them!