With the arrival of the first official day of summer and temperatures in the mid to upper 90s, Danville Utilities encourages customers to take some simple steps to stay comfortable in their home and keep energy costs in check.
Small conservation efforts or changes in behavior can add up to big savings, said Meagan Baker, key accounts manager for Danville Utilities.
“Last week, we began to experience near record high temperatures, and that trend is going to continue this week,” Baker said. “Customers will see higher bills as they increase their electricity consumption to stay cool, but simple steps can help them take control of their energy usage.”
Danville Utilities offers five tips at little to no cost for customers:
• Close outside doors – Keeping outside doors open when going in and out wastes energy and makes air conditioning systems work harder. Many residents also enjoy leaving their main door open to allow sunlight in if they have a screen or storm door closed, but this is not recommended on a very hot day. Although the natural light is pleasant, heat from the sun will make the home much warmer and cause the air conditioning system to work harder.
• Use fans – Room and ceiling fans use much less energy than a central air conditioning system and help to make rooms feel cooler. If possible, locate fans on the upper level of the building and open windows on a lower level. In a one-story house or apartment, close the windows near the fan and open windows far from the fan, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Turn the fans off when leaving the room.
• Use window coverings – Keeping drapes and shades or blinds closed during the day helps keep unwanted heat out of the home. Solar screens or mesh-like window screens can intercept up to 70 percent of solar energy before it gets into the house, and are particularly effective on the east- and west-facing windows, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Window films are another option. They are transparent, metalized sheets that reflect heat before it can be transmitted through the glass.
• Turn up the thermostat – Air conditioning accounts for around 50 percent of an electric bill. Set the thermostat to 78 degrees when home and higher when away. For every degree over 72, customers can save 3 percent per degree on cooling costs.
• Cook with a microwave – Four minutes in the microwave will generate much less heat and use much less energy than 30 minutes in the oven. If you must cook using the stove and oven, cook in the evening. After cooking, turn on the kitchen exhaust.
Baker said customers will receive an insert in their next utility bill that offers more information on how to reduce summer cooling costs.
For customers who wish to invest in energy-saving appliances and services, Danville Utilities offers Home$ave, a rebate program that offers cash rebates to customers who purchase qualifying new energy efficient products and services for their home.
For more details on what equipment and services qualify for Home$ave rebates and to get a rebate application, visit www.danvillehomesave.com. In addition, a rebate program hotline has been established. The number is 888-599-0450.
More Summer Energy Saving Tips:
Install a programmable thermostat
If you often forget to turn up the thermostat before leaving for the day, purchase an inexpensive programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat can be set to automatically turn the temperature up or down according to your schedule.
Time your window air conditioner
Use a timer to turn on the air conditioner half an hour before you get home, rather than running it while you are gone. Keep the filters clean. If possible, locate the unit in a window that is most central to the area you are cooling and on the shadiest side of your home.
Replace air conditioner filters
Dirty filters restrict airflow and can cause the system to run longer and less efficient, increasing energy use. Replace filters monthly for maximum benefit.
Turn the water heater off before leaving town
There’s no need to heat unused water. Plus, once turned back on, most models will reheat the water to the set temperature in about an hour. When at home, decreasing the water heater temperature from 140 degrees to 120 can help save up to $85 per year. A setting of 120 degrees is sufficient for most household needs.
Become a grill master
Using the oven on a hot summer day forces your air-conditioning unit to work harder, which can lead to higher utility bills. Choose to grill outdoors instead and enjoy energy savings with your burgers and hot dogs.