Summer is nearly here. Graduation parties and end-of-school programs fill our calendars, and we are ready for some pool time, vacation plans, and maybe a few evenings on the golf course or at a Nationals game. But summer isn’t all fun and games. The hot, sweat-inducing humidity leads to higher electric bills as we try to keep cool and comfortable.  Yuck!

Recently, California just became the first state to require solar panels on every new home starting in 2020. While solar power is expensive to install, it’s projected that an average consumer could save about $80/mo on electric bills. It’s not likely that Northern Virginia will follow California’s lead any time soon, but solar power is starting to gain attention in the area, despite the expense. Luckily, there are other options for you to help maintain control of your electric bill and keep your cool.

Check your home for leaks

Invest in a blower door test and full energy audit conducted by a qualified technician. During a blower door test, your home is depressurized, which can help the technician identify all the areas where your home is leaking. Leaks let the hot air in, and your air-conditioned are out. In order to maintain the set temperature in your home, your a/c (or your heater in the winter) has to work over-time, costing you money. Repairing as many leaks as possible will help your HVAC system run more efficiently and save you money.

Unplug unused appliances

If you leave appliances plugged in all the time, like the microwave, coffee-maker, small kitchen appliances, etc., you are actually using energy. While it’s small amounts, multiple appliances plugged in 24/7 adds up to unnecessary sum. Unplug them when not in use and save some moulah.

Have your HVAC system serviced regularly

You go to your doctor for an annual check up, in order to catch problems before they arise. Why not do the same with your HVAC system?  It’s recommended that you have a technician do a check-up twice per year…before you start your furnace in the fall, and before you start your A/C in the spring. There are two ways this ultimately saves you money:

  1. The technician can catch small problems and fix them before they become bigger, more expensive problems.
  2. The check-up will also reveal if your system is working optimally. Small repairs or adjustments can ensure peak efficiency is maintained, which will save energy costs.

Another task you need to be diligent about is changing your filters according to manufacturer guidelines. A dirty or clogged filter will translate to increased energy consumption. You can lower your bill by 5%-15% simply by keeping your filters clean.

Don’t use the oven in the summer

Using your oven to prepare meals raises the temperature in your home, causing your A/C to work harder to keep up. So instead of using the oven, make use of smaller appliances, such as a toaster oven, crock pot or InstantPot. Better yet, keep the heat outside and use your grill. Early homesteaders had the right idea with their “summer kitchens”!

Cover your windows

Big picture windows and patio doors are lovely for letting natural light into your home…but they wreak havoc on your utility bills if they happen to face west or south. Windows facing these directions let in the most intense heat of the day, and can raise the temperature in your home to the point where the A/C has trouble keeping up. Using blinds and curtains can help keep out the most intense heat. Look for curtains or shades with white backing to reflect rather than absorb the suns rays.

Outside your home, you can also make use of awning or solar screens to block or diffuse the most intense sun rays and shade your windows and doors. For long term shade, you can plant a nice shade tree that will provide natural shade for your home. It will take awhile for the tree to grow, but it will add value and beauty to your landscape while also providing future shade.

Adjust your thermostat

Even if you like your home cold, a small 1 or 2 degree adjustment can save you significant money in the long run. You will hardly notice the difference in the temperature. Use a programmable thermostat, so you can raise the temperature (or lower it in the winter) when you are typically out of the house or sleeping. It’s amazing how much energy you can save by even small adjustments.

Don’t like programming your thermostat? The new Nest thermostat is a popular piece of  smart home technology that actually learns from your habits. Just spend a day or two adjusting the temps when you are home and before you leave or go to bed. Nest learns these habits and programs your thermostat for you.

Add insulation

Many older homes lack adequate insulation or the insulation that was installed years ago is no longer doing the job. Adding an insulation layer in the attic can go a long way to keep heat out and prevent heat loss in the winter. You can also blow in insulation into exterior walls to keep the heat and cold outside. This can be a pricey endeavor, depending on how big your home is, but it will not only save you energy costs, it will also increase the value of your home when you sell.

These are just a few of the ways you can help save on your energy bills going into the heat of the summer. We are here to help! We maintain a list of preferred contractors that will do good work at a reasonable price. As always, if you or someone you know need help selling or finding a dream home in 2018, please do not hesitate to call us. Contact Jason at 703-298-7037 or Jason@JasonAndBonnie.com.