Five summer energy savers

Allecia Vermillion

Summer brings its own set of seasonal challenges to avoid sky-high utility bills. Common sense dictates keeping your air conditioning set to the highest temperature you can tolerate comfortably. Additionally, replacing older appliances and air conditioning units with Energy Star-certified versions can cut your utility bills considerably. And as the thermometer creeps upward, these small changes can help your household stay cool and on budget this summer.

Use fans to make the most of your air conditioning

If you have a programmable thermostat, you can cut down on needless air conditioning by raising the temperature when nobody is home. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests using fans in conjunction with air conditioning to spread cooled air through your house more effectively. Fans don’t require much power and can help you ease up on power-hungry air conditioners. Additionally, relocate any lamps or TV sets that are near your air conditioner’s thermostat. Since these items generate heat, they can fool your air conditioner into running longer than necessary.

Stick to push-button cooking

Use your microwave rather than your oven; it uses two-thirds less energy than the stove, according to the California Energy Commission. And unlike ovens, microwaves don’t emit noticeable heat. If you are preparing small items that require oven heating, consider whether they will fit in your toaster oven instead.

Clean up your appliances’ act

Cleaning or replacing your appliances’ filters, vents or coils helps them circulate air more efficiently. When members of the national Service and Conservation Corps perform home energy audits, they suggest cleaning air conditioning filters monthly, and replacing when needed. The coils on your refrigerator or freezer should be cleaned once a year, and emptying the clothes dryer’s lint screen before each load will keep your appliances from using extra energy.

Air-dry dishes

The good news: According to the California Energy Commission, running a full dishwasher is more efficient than washing dishes by hand. And running your dishwasher fully loaded cuts down on energy use. Bonus points for letting your dishes air-dry.