Summer Energy Tips | Sonoma Clean Power

Summer Energy Tips

For staying cool while still saving energy

With the weather heating up, many of us will be using more electricity. Taking small steps to conserve and reduce wasted energy can make a big difference. Here are some tips to help lower your electric usage this summer.

Tips for inside your home

1. Use fans before turning on the A/C

Before turning on your air conditioning system, try cooling down by using fans. Fans use significantly less energy than air conditioning systems and can be an effective way to keep you comfortable during the hotter months. Remember to switch your fan off when leaving the room, as fans help keep you cool, but do not cool the air itself.

2. Routinely replace or clean your A/C filter

If you don’t remember the last time you changed your air conditioner's filter, now might be a good time to consider it. Old filters can cause your system to run longer and less efficiently. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by up to 15% (1).

3. Seal air leaks

Seal cracks and openings in windows, doors, and vents to keep cool air in and prevent warm air from leaking into your home. Reducing the amount of air leaking in and out of your home is a cost-effective way to cut heating and cooling costs, improve durability, increase comfort, and create a healthier indoor environment (2).

4. Keep blinds and curtains closed

Installing window coverings throughout your home that let light in but keep the heat out can help reduce cooling costs. Open windows at night when its cooler, then close them along with your blinds or curtains in the morning to keep cool air inside all day.

5. Avoid using the oven on hot days

Try grilling outside or use smaller appliances such as a microwave, pressure cooker, or toaster oven, which release less heat in your home and require less energy than a stove or oven.

6. Help your refrigerator work better, not harder

Keep liquids and foods in covered containers or sealed storage bags in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder. Make sure the condenser coils underneath or on the back of your fridge are clean so they aren’t consuming more energy than they need. Preventing the build-up of dust and dirt on these coils will improve your refrigerator’s efficiency and may even help its lifespan.

7. Use ventilation fans if you have them

Turning on the ventilation fan in the bathroom when you shower or take a bath, and in the kitchen when you are cooking indoors will help get rid of excess heat and humidity in your home. It will also take some load off your A/C system.

8. Use cold water instead of hot water

Behind heating and cooling, heating water is the second largest use of energy in American households (3). When doing laundry, wash with cold water whenever possible. If you usually rinse off dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, make sure to use cold water. To avoid wasting hot water, try taking shorter showers, install low-flow showerheads and faucets, and turn off the sink while brushing your teeth, shaving, washing your hands, or washing dishes.

9. Move appliances away from your thermostat

Avoid placing appliances or objects which may radiate heat, such as TVs or lamps, near the thermostat. If the thermostat senses heat, it can cause your air conditioner to run longer than necessary.

10. Reset your thermostat

During summer months, set your thermostats 2-3 degrees higher than your typical setting when you are home. When your home is unoccupied, raise your thermostat above 80 degrees or turn it off entirely if you plan to be away. Resist setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. This will not cool your home any faster and can result in unnecessary cooling expenses by lowering the temperature too much (4). The smaller the difference between the temperature outside and the temperature in your home, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.

Tips for outside

1. Choose native plants for landscaping

Plants that are native to your area often require less water and less maintenance to grow happily. Reducing your water use will help you save energy too. Consider substituting lawns with local shrubs and trees, or drought-tolerant plants.

2. Water during the right time of day

To limit the amount of water lost to evaporation, water your outdoor plants early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Drip irrigation is also a good way to ensure your plants get the water they need while minimizing waste.

3. Upgrade your outdoor lighting to solar or LEDs

Once you install solar-powered lights, charging them is free, thanks to the sun! Another energy-efficient option is to replace incandescent lighting in your yard with light-emitting diode (LED) lights, which last longer and use far less energy.