According to the National Weather Service, the average high temperature last summer in Las Vegas was 99 degrees in June, 104 degrees in July, 102 in August and 94 in September—but that’s only half the story. There’s also the number of days which reached at least 100 degrees in each month: 15 in June, 25 in July, 24 in August and 6 in September—that’s a grand total of 70 days last summer when the temperature hit or broke the 100-degree mark.
For the average Las Vegan, whether you live in an apartment or a house, that means a big jump in your electric bill during the summer months. That’s especially true for homes that are poorly insulated and don’t take common-sense energy saving measures to reduce costs.
Here are some unique ways to lower your electric bill during the sweltering summer months:
Use the microwave instead of an electric stove: Heating a frozen dinner can take up to 50 minutes in your electric stove, but only 5 or 10 if you use the microwave. That’s 40 minutes of electricity savings for every use, savings that can add up.
Buy and install window shades: There’s a reason your grandparents had awnings and window shades—they keep the heat out. Install window shades in all windows, but especially those which get a lot of sun.
Install ceiling fans: Ceiling fans are extremely efficient at cooling rooms in your house. Although they don’t necessarily eliminate the need for air conditioners, especially in the hot months of the summer, they will allow you to use air conditioners less often, and to set them to a lower temperature.
Close air conditioner vents in rooms you’re not using: If there are rooms in your house you don’t use, or use very infrequently, close air conditioner vents in those rooms to save money.
Install a programmable thermostat: A programmable thermostat is a device that lets users adjust temperature settings based on factors like time of day or day of the week. You can program your thermostat to only cool (or heat) your home when it’s occupied.
Wash dishes by hand: If you’re willing to get some savings in exchange for a little elbow grease, get in to the habit of washing dishes by hand. The real cost of using a dishwasher isn’t for the electricity to run the machine—it’s for the cost of heating up the water. To save money when you wash dishes by hand, fill the basin with hot water to wash, then rinse dishes with cold water. If you do use the dishwasher, wait until it’s full to minimize the number of uses.
Stock up foods in the refrigerator: The more crowded your refrigerator shelves, the less energy you lose every time you open the door. That means your refrigerator doesn’t have to work as hard to keep food cool, and you save money on your electric bill.
Use appliances during off-peak hours: Generally, peak hours (when electricity is more expensive) are from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. If you’re planning to wash your clothes or use your dishwasher, do it in off-peak hours.
Maximize washer and dryer efficiency: When you wash your clothes, choose the warm water setting instead of the hot. Always choose the cold water setting for rinsing clothes. Don’t use the dryer until you have a full load to dry, use the moisture-sensing setting, and clean the lint trap after each use for maximum efficiency.
Limit the number of hours you use pool filters: If you own a pool, your pool filter is one of the biggest electricity drains in your home. Whenever possible, limit use of the pool filter to 4 or 5 hours a day. Do the same if you use an automatic cleaning sweep for the pool. If you plan to install pool lights, choose LED lights, which last longer and require much less electricity than incandescent bulbs.
Unplug appliances when you’re not using them: Most people aren’t aware that appliances which are plugged in use electricity, even when they’re not turned on. To save money, unplug all electronic devices and chargers—including computers, printers—when you’re not using them.
Replace air conditioner filters: A dirty air filter will make your air conditioner less efficient because it needs to work harder to push out cooled air. Check filters at least once a week, clean them when they’re dirty, and replace them periodically.
Protect doors and windows from the heat: Weather-stripping, sealing and caulking all of your doors and windows, and installing foam gaskets behind outlet covers, will keep more cool air in and more hot air out. The cost for these items is small compared to the energy savings you’ll realize.
Buy ENERGY STAR® lamps, fixtures and appliances: ENERGY STAR® certified table lamps and light fixtures will save you on your electric bill. Replace any incandescent bulbs for lights you plan to have on more than 2 hours a day. You should also consider an ENERGY STAR® refrigerator.
Use LED lights: LED lights produce significantly less heat than incandescent bulbs, which means they require less electricity, which saves money. The next time you purchase light bulbs, choose LED.
Lower Your Water Heater Temperature: Warmer climate means less work for your water heater and less temperature loss in your plumbing. By lowering your water heater temperature to an optimum level you can still have plenty of hot water but at a lower expense.
Plant Trees: Trees not only provide asthetic value and privacy, but proper placement in front of sun exposed windows can drastically reduce heat transfer into your home reducing cooling efforts and the need to close windows to block the sun.
Reducing your summer electric bill takes some common-sense planning and, in some cases, a willingness to give up some conveniences in exchange for significant cost savings. Fortunately, there are experienced electricians who can help.
Penny Electric is a family owned and operated electrician serving the Las Vegas, Henderson, Summerlin, Green Valley, Boulder City and surrounding Southern Nevada communities. To learn more about our energy-saving solutions, contact us today.