Ways to cut down energy bill during summer months


by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Chief Photojournalist SCOTT GUEST

Bio | Email | Follow: @JessicaV_KVUE


Posted on May 21, 2012 at 7:27 AM

Updated Monday, May 21 at 8:18 AM

AUSTIN -- Hot summer months are nearly here. Central Texas temperatures are creeping into the 90s this week. When they hit triple digits, energy bills will spike.

Some Austin Energy customers see their bills double over the summer months. To lower monthly expenses Austin Energy recommends customers take a number of proactive measures, including:

  • Inspect and repair ducts if needed. Many older homes in Austin leak a third of their cooling and heating into the attic.
  • Install 12 to 13 inches of attic insulation. Many homes in Austin built before 1975 have little or no attic insulation. The average home only has 4 inches.
  • Weather strip your home.
  • Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher. Every degree you go lower can increase your electric bill by 3 to 4 percent.
  • When leaving your home for an extended period of time, set your thermostat at 82 degrees. This way the unit doesn’t have to work so hard when you return. A/C also helps remove humidity from your home, making it feel more comfortable.
  • Take advantage of ceiling fans. Fans blowing directly on you will make you feel about four degrees cooler.
  • Install solar screens and keep blinds closed.
  • Avoid phantom loads by unplugging devices or using a smart power strip which automatically shuts off power to devices that are using energy while in standby mode.
  • Tune up your A/C and change air filters every month. Dirty filters make your unit work much harder.
  • Use large appliances like washing machines and dishwashers in the early morning and late evening.
  • Use Energy Star products.
  • Cook with a microwave or grill.
  • Set your water heater at 120 degrees.
  • Use low-flow shower heads and aerators for your faucets.
  • Plant a shade tree on the west side of your house to reduce indoor temperatures by as much as 20 degrees.