How Seniors Can Lower Energy Costs in the Summer
Summer is many peoples’ favorite time of year. It’s warm out, there’s a lot to do, and the weather is accommodating to all sorts of activities. It’s also one of the two most expensive seasons for energy costs, both in demand and price spikes. There’s plenty of reasons for this, but what matters to you, the consumer, is saving money while also keeping your home habitable. For seniors, this is even more true, since they’re at special risk of overheating and heat stroke. Luckily, if you’re creative and willing to rework a few things, seniors can cut their energy bills during the summer without sacrificing safety or too much comfort.
Efficiently Keep Your Home Cool
Two ways to cool your house down without breaking the bank has to do with the circulation of air. Replacing your HVAC’s air filter can help improve the quality of air and help the system work more efficiently. With your air conditioning system working harder to cool your home, it’ll use more energy to run. Replacing the filter can lower your AC energy use by five to 15 percent and should be done every one or two months during the summer (every three months for the rest of the year).
Replacing the filter can lower your AC energy use by five to 15 percent and should be done every one or two months during the summer.
Instead of using the air conditioning exclusively, you should also try using ceiling or standing fans in rooms of your house. This way, instead of cooling the entire house, you’re using a fraction of the energy to cool the room you’re in. If it’s a breezy day, not particularly hot, or nighttime, you can also open a door (keeping a screen door or cover to keep out bugs) to help circulate air throughout the house (though this can also let out the cold air you’ve built up).
Keep Cool Air In
As we mentioned above, keeping your house cool and comfortable is important to making summer enjoyable and giving you a safe place to cool down when it gets too hot. This can also make cooling your home a major portion of your electric bill during the summer months. Finding clever ways to lower this can stretch the little bit of air conditioning you use even further. One way to go about this is to make sure you’re not leaking cold air out of your house. A big culprit for this is your windows. Check to make sure they’re properly sealed to keep the cold air in and the hot air out.
Once you’ve done that, draw the shades or purchase some thermal curtains to keep hot sunlight out of your rooms.
You can take further steps to insulate your windows yourself to further maintain a cool inside temp. This can be anything from weather-stripping to bubble wrap! It just needs to insulate your windows. Once you’ve done that, draw the shades or purchase some thermal curtains to keep hot sunlight out of your rooms. It may darken the house a bit, but it’ll be cool, as well.
Do Chores Outside
As if you needed an excuse to grill on a beautiful summer day. Funny enough, though, utilizing an outdoor grill can help you to keep your home cooler in the summer. How? By removing a source of heat. Think about it — when we cook inside, we’re using heat, whether that’s on the stovetop or in the oven. When we open the oven door or cook dinner, we’re releasing hot air into our home, raising the temperature. This can counteract all the work we did before in keeping the cold air in our house. Instead, grill outside with some of our summer BBQ recipes or any of the summertime recipes we shared in Season 2 of Medicareful Yum!
You can go “old school” with your laundry chores by setting up a drying line outside.
Around 10 percent of the average home’s total energy costs comes from the washer and dryer. Instead, use the heat and sun outside to your advantage! You can go “old school” with your laundry chores by setting up a drying line outside, cutting your need to use the dryer during the summer substantially. While not every article of clothing works on a drying line, with the right tips, you can make a dent in your total energy usage with a drying line during the summer.
Switch Out Old Lights
A surprising way to cut down on energy costs and heat in your home is to switch out old incandescent lightbulbs for more efficient options. In fact, it’s hard to find a less efficient light source than incandescent lightbulbs (it’s a little better than fire) because only about 10 percent of energy used is to create light. The other 90 percent of energy (electricity in this case) is used to generate heat, which is why incandescent bulbs get so hot, reaching between 150°F and 250°F.
Not only do LED bulbs generate about half the amount of heat of incandescent bulbs, they also use around 75 percent less energy.
This summer, look to replace those old, inefficient bulbs with something a little better. LED, or light emitting diode, bulbs are one of the more readily available and affordable options out there. Not only do they generate about half the amount of heat of incandescent bulbs, they also use around 75 percent less energy. LED bulbs tend to last much longer than incandescent, generally as much as 10 years, which is another added savings in switching.
Senior Energy Discounts
As a senior, you may also get some breaks on your energy bills through a senior savings program. The specifics of these programs vary from company to company, but it may do anything from lower your monthly bill to giving you extra time to pay it each month. To find out if the company you get power from has a program like this, give them a call and ask.
The HHS offers a LIHEAP for qualifying citizens that can be used for a number of energy-saving measures.
Depending on your circumstances, you may also qualify for assistance through the government. The Department of Health & Human Services offers a Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for qualifying citizens that can be used towards energy bills, weatherization and energy-related home repairs, and energy crises. The US Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy offers a Weatherization Assistancce Program which can also be used to improve your home to save on energy bills.
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Summer is a lot of fun, but for a number of reasons, it can also raise our energy costs substantially. With these money-saving tips, you can cut your energy bill without compromising your summer comfort and fun. With that bill slashed, you can now focus on enjoying the warm weather and the outdoors!