Lower Your Power Bill Without Lowering Your Comfort

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

Lower your Power Bill without Lowering your Comfort


Do you spend about 170 dollars on your monthly power bill?  Well the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Energy Star have some simple and inexpensive tips that can lower that cost, especially during these crucial summer months.  In fact, you can save up to 20 percent on cooling costs monthly by just doing the following improvements to your home.


As a homeowner, begin by checking the homes’ outer walls, ceilings, windows, doors, and floors, which is called the “envelope” of the home.  Obvious indicators for where energy is being lost are things like poorly sealed gaps between the foundation, holes made for electrical or plumbing use, and cracks around door and window frames.  If such things are found, you can apply fairly inexpensive types of caulk and weather stripping in those appropriate areas.  For a more permanent fix, spray insulation foam in a can also helps in making your home more energy efficient.  Other areas to consider checking, but may require a specialist, are for missing insulation behind walls, electrical outlets, and attic spaces or for the proper installation of machines such as an air conditioning unit. 


Now that your homes’ envelope has been properly sealed and insulated, we can move on to maintaining your air conditioning unit.  An AC unit works by lowering the humidity level in your home, so keeping the unwanted summer air out and repairing those leaks is essential.


If you have a central air AC system, set the thermostat to “AUTO”, so that it is only running when it needs to.  Try setting the daytime temperature to 78 degrees for 8 hours to save up to 10 percent annually on your cooling bill.  You can also invest in a programmable thermostat, which will allow you to program specific temperatures at specific times on a weekly schedule.  For example, you can set the temperature to rise at 7:30 a.m. you leave for work and then set the temperature to lower at 5:30 p.m. when you return home.  This programmable thermostat is ideal for the recommended 8 hour period of 78 degrees.  Also, if the AC unit is 10 years or older, then by replacing the unit with a new one can save you up to 50 percent on the cooling bill. Although, if you cannot afford a new central air unit at this time or have a window AC unit, then maintaining it in good condition will allow it to run more efficiently.


 For all types of AC systems, leave all supply vents open and avoid having objects too close to the unit to prevent it from overheating.  Remember to check the air filters once a month, but if the filter is dirty, replace it with a new filter and clean it at least every 3 weeks.  Keep all exposed parts of the unit clean of debris; this can be done by spraying a garden hose or even using a leaf blower for a central air unit. 


If none of this applies to you, then just remember to use good, conscience decisions in the habits and behaviors of your energy usage.  You can also do research on related topics to further your knowledge on products, methods, and maintaining your energy needs.  For more information, you can visit www.energystar.gov or attend our energy saving programs this summer through the Warren and Franklin Extension Centers!