Summer days are longer and the kids are home from school, so that means your air conditioner is being used more, and it’s easy to increase the amount of energy you use every day. This can cause a big increase in your average electric bill, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By being more conscious of how you use the air conditioner, coming up with outdoor activities that require little or no energy, and making some changes around the house, you can lower your energy costs during the long days of summer. Consider the following energy efficiency tips to save money and have an energy efficient summer.

1. Try to keep your air conditioner off as much as possible.

Running your air conditioner is one of the biggest household energy expenses at any time of year, but it’s especially bad in the summer. Many experts in the prepaid electricity industry note that usage skyrockets because of  air condition use. You can cut down on those bills if you keep it off most of the time and make a few simple adaptations to your usage patterns. First, you can use fans more frequently, while keeping the windows closed and the curtains shut so your house will be cooler when the sun’s at its hottest. When it’s cooler outside, you can open the windows and try to create a cross breeze. If you have a two-story house, you can also spend more time downstairs or create a family center in the basement where it is cooler. Go outside for a few fun activities in the summer sun, including swimming and picnics. You can also go out to air-conditioned places like the movies, the mall, and other fun venues. Make sure you encourage your whole family to wear light clothing that they’ll stay cool. If your family is staying inside wearing sweatshirts in the summer because the air is too cold with air conditioning, you are simply wasting energy. Instead, use the air conditioning less and wear clothing appropriate to the season. When you are using your A/C try to keep it at 78° for optimal energy efficiency.

2. Make sure your air conditioner is energy efficient.

When you are using the air conditioner, make sure it’s running efficiently. It’s a good idea to look into this before the heat of summer is upon you. Check your home insulation and seals to make sure the cool air stays in and the hot air stays out. Change the air filter when it’s dirty to prevent the air conditioner from running longer and wasting energy. You might need to look into buying a newer, more energy-efficient air conditioner if you have an outdated model. Plus, do chores that cause heat, like drying clothes and using the oven, at night when it’s cooler so the air conditioner doesn’t have to work as much to keep the house cool.

3. Cut down on indoor cooking.

Use the grill for most of your cooking during the summer months. Grilling is a great summer activity and can expand your cuisine from winter comfort foods. You can grill meats and even many of the side dishes, including corn, vegetables and toasting buns. You can even cook some foods in baking dishes and pots on the grill, like baked beans and berry cobbler for dessert. If you decide to cook some items inside, try to keep it to only simple side dishes and do the bulk of the cooking on the grill. Another option is to make more lettuce salads and cold summer dishes like chicken salad and tuna salad that don’t require cooking. Cutting down on cooking inside will also prevent the house from getting as hot, so it can cut down on costs to keep the house cool. If you need grilling ideas, checkout this post on cheap and easy grilling recipes.

4. Take a break from electronics.

Kids and adults spend endless hours on the computer, on smartphones, watching TV, playing video games, and using countless additional electronic devices. But summer is the perfect time to enjoy some electronics-free fun. There are endless indoor and outdoor activities for kids and adults that can save on energy costs, including bike rides, reading, putting on a play, playing dress-up, playing board games and with toys, playing with water guns and water balloons, exploring the outdoors, fishing, camping, going on day trips, and more. Try to get the neighbors involved as well, so the activities can be more social. By engaging in more of these activities, you can save energy by not using electronics all day, plus you can unplug them during that time to prevent wasting energy through the standby functions.

5. Cut down on hot water use.

During the summer, it’s hot anyway, so it’s not so hard to cut down on hot water and save money on water-heating costs. Encourage your family to take cooler showers, which can be refreshing after a hot day in the sun. Practice shorter showers, no baths, and turning the water off when brushing teeth and shaving. Use cold water to wash the car and water the plants.

6. Cut down on the costs of your pool.

Pools take energy to run the filtration pumps, plus extra if you heat them and run lights at night. To cut down on energy usage here, consider going to a community pool instead, using a friend’s or neighbor’s pool, or going to the ocean or other natural bodies of water. If you want to continue to or start to use a pool at home, there are a few tricks that can help you save money. Use a cover on the pool when it’s not in use to cut down on cleaning, to prevent evaporation, and to keep the water warmer. Consider investing in a solar heating system if you need to heat the water. Also, specific filters, such as sand multi-layer filtration systems, can help you save money in energy costs by not using as much hot water.

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