36 Ways To Lower Your Energy Use This Summer

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Summer is coming! (Unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, in which case it’s time to get ready for winter) For many of us, summer is when power bills go through the roof.

I know – that’s not what you want to hear, but you know that it’s true.  Would you like to find out some ways to keep cool without the power bill rising faster than the heat outside?

Of course you do!

You do not need to go off-grid in order to lower your electricity use. Here are 36 tips for lowering your electricity use this summer.

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Don’t use an air conditioner. Electric floor and ceiling fans use half the energy.

Fans do not cool the room, though – they blow away the layer of hot air around your body. Therefore, when you leave the room, turn off the fan. If you leave a fan on when it is not actually moving the hot air away from a person, you are simply wasting electricity.

Make sure your ceiling fan is blowing down, not up. If it’s blowing up, then the warm air from the ceiling is being pushed back down, and that’s not good. When the fan is at full speed, stand directly under it – you should feel a solid wind.

If you must use an air conditioner, especially for those with health conditions, increasing the temperature by 2C (for example, from 26C to 28C) will reduce your energy consumption by about 10%. 10% is a lot.

Plant summer greenery like Morning Glory flowers outside of your house’s windows. These create a natural shade and keep the heat from entering, while evaporation from water inside the plants and their soil will also cool your walls.

Even potted plants and gardens, if close to the house, will prevent excessive temperature increases.

Trees are even better. But if you’re planting trees near your house, pay close attention to the mature root size and shape, choosing ones that go straight down. Sprawling roots can destroy your foundation, paths and driveway.

Use blinds inside your windows to block sunlight and heat. Better yet, install functional outdoor shutters outdoors to prevent the heat from reaching the windows. It’s an old idea that deserves a revisit.

In the morning and early evening, sprinkle water on gardens, balconies, concrete and asphalt. As the day warms, the water will evaporate and have a cooling effect.

Straw or rattan mats are cooler than carpets or wooden floors.

Solar control films are available to apply to windows. Just like the insulating film many people use in the winter, these insulate the window glass directly, reflecting away 78% of the sun’s heat and blocking up to 98% of UV rays.

Wear a hat. Your mom was right.

Bring back parasols. It has happened in Japan, so why not bring them back to North America?

Linen bedding, although definitely much more expensive, is the most comfortable, quick-drying and sweat-absorbent. An added benefit is that linen lasts a lifetime and “old linen” becomes increasingly soft and comfortable. If linen bedding is out of the price range, lightweight cotton is the next best option, allowing you to sleep more comfortably in the heat.

Sleep with ice packs under your pillow.

Turn down the coolness in your refrigerator. Put it at a medium setting. Second to air conditioners, refrigerators are the single biggest use of energy in the home.

Do not overload the refrigerator as that prevents food from cooling properly. They work best if air can circulate freely, so toss out those long-forgotten leftovers.

Organize your food so that the refrigerator is opened as infrequently as possible. I know, I’m starting to sound like your mom, aren’t I? Keep the refrigerator door closed!

Is it too obvious to point out that we should be turning off lights whenever possible? Unless you live in a dark basement apartment, there is little need for artificial lights in the daytime, and we generally manage quite well without them. Turning off lights unless absolutely needed will save about 5% of your energy consumption.

Turn off anything that isn’t being used and be aware of phantom loads. If you use a microwave or television, make sure it is properly turned off.

If you replace incandescent lights (are you still using those?) with fluorescent bulbs, maintaining the same luminance, you decrease consumption to about 1/5th of what you were using. LED lights will reduce consumption to about 1/7th of the original usage! We use only LED lights in our off-grid cabin and the energy use is minimal.

Use kitchen and bathroom fans with caution as they vent to the outdoors and may be drawing welcome cool air outside.

Crockpots, electric skillets, roaster ovens, toaster ovens, grills, griddles, outdoor barbecues and sandwich makers – there are many ways to cook without heating up the kitchen. Quick cooking methods like stir frying and boiling are also ideal – leave the simmered dishes for cooler months.

Cook in the morning or late in the evening whenever possible.

>Eat cool food. Salads, fresh vegetables and dip, cold cuts and bread are all delicious ways to eat while beating the heat, as are cold noodles like soba. Cook them in the morning, rinse well in several changes of cold water, drain well and cover, then store in the refrigerator. Serve with a delicious dipping sauce and chopped additions like cold meat and cheese.

Don’t forget seasonal favourites that have always been considered cooling – cucumber, tomato, watermelon, potato salad. Prepare the potatoes when the temperature is lower, or use canned potatoes.

When you do use the oven, don’t pre-heat unless you’re baking. In addition, cook multiple things at a time and check on your food by looking through the window.

Drink plenty of cool beverages. Try using that sun’s heat to brew up a batch of sun tea in your window. Or make barley tea by roasting whole barley in the oven and then boil it in water for a few minutes. Sweeten, cool and enjoy. Want more options than that? My friend Carissa has written a fabulous little book called Infused that contains 120 infused water recipes. (Yes, I have a copy!)

Hang dry your clothes. Even if you don’t have a backyard clothesline, a temporary rack in the bathroom or living room means no dryer heat.

The water heater is close to the air conditioner in energy consumption. Turn the heat down on it, and consider turning it off during hours when hot water on demand is not required.

Take quick showers instead of baths and consider lowering the temperature of your showers. If your home is warm, a cool shower can be very refreshing.

Even better – install low-flow shower heads for those short, cooler showers.

Clean around the home with cold water instead of hot wherever possible.

The Japanese believe that creating a soothing, relaxing environment helps you feel cooler. Install Japanese wind chimes or set up a small fish tank in your home.

A tenugui, originally simply a facecloth used by 18th century actors, is a thin linen or cotton hand towel which is used as a headband, to wipe away sweat, or as a sunshade. Carrying a thin towel or handkerchief is a practical tradition for dealing with heat, as are small hand fans.

And, finally, the easiest, healthiest and all around best way to save energy with your television is to unplug it and all of its accessories and remove them from your home.

It is definitely possible to use less power even when it's hot outside. Check out these 36 ideas for lowering your power bill in the summer.

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Please feel free to share anything on this site, in full or in part, with the following requirements: 1) all links MUST be left intact except by written permission 2) the excerpt or reprint MUST link back to the referring page, 3) the following author bio MUST be included: Marie has homesteaded in the city, in an off-grid cabin in the deep woods, and now in a 130-year old house in a village near her hometown. She is the author of A Cabin Full of Food, available on Amazon and loves to interact with her community on Facebook.

Ruby Ring - last year

Love this! I stumbled it on stumbleupon. This is a really creative list. I especially love the parasol idea. I want a parasol!

Secondary Roads - last year

Great ideas. Based on your previous writings I've changed my shower protocol. I now turn on water long enough to get wet. Soap and scrub down. Water back on long enough to rinse off soap. Out of shower and dry off.

Lee MacArthur - last year

I'm a fan of leaving windows open all night long to flood the house with cooler air and closing it in the morning to trap the air. On super hot evenings, I would take out a spray bottle, dampen my sheets, turn on the fan and climb under for a wonderfully cool sleep.

Sailorchronos - last year

I always make use of our clothesline in the summer. There's nothing like the smell of fresh-air dried laundry. Thanks for the tip about solar window films. We use that plastic shrink-film in the winter but I didn't realize there was a summer equivalent.

Danielle Pientka - last year

Great ideas! We have solar panels which help a lot in the summer, but I try to be conscious of how much energy we use because we can still go "over," even when the sun is shining bright.

Elaina Newton - last year

So many great tips! My favorite is the last one regarding the television, haha. No cable or satellite for us, but we do use our television for watching movies and playing video games. Of course, keeping it off and reading a book is a much more energy efficient option. 🙂

Carolyn McBride - last year

Such wonderful wisdom, as always. We tried an air conditioner last summer and found it didn't cool down more than one room, so we're going with window fans this summer, have windows on the shaded side of the house open, window fans on the sunny side exhausting the air already in the house. It worked really well when we did it years ago. We cook a lot on the barbecue and in the crock pot during the summer too. why heat the house if you don't have to, right? Great post. Thanks for the reminders.

Just Plain Marie - last year

It's a lot of work keeping within your production. We watch our panels constantly because going over isn't an option. 😀 In the summer it isn't a problem, but it's definitely an issue in December and January.

Inside The Fox Den - last year

Great tips! Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday, hope to see you again next week!

Kim - last year

Wow, this is a lot of really great information! I plan to bookmark this and implement these ideas this summer. Thanks for the info!! #HomeMattersParty

Amy - last year

These are great suggestions! I'll be speaking with my husband to try a few of these. We already don't have TV, but I've been looking for alternatives to the central air, which I loathe. Goes straight to my bones.

Tanya @ Moms Small V - last year

These are great tips, I think thermal blackout curtains helps us keep it cool inside the house (and keep it warmer in the winter). We have them in some of the bedrooms and our huge sliding door in the kitchen. When we are not eating, I keep the kitchen one closed so it stays cooler.

A Busy Bees Life - last year

I love linen bedding, they are the best. Never thought about sleeping with ice packs under my pillow. These are some really helpful tips that will come in handy for any family.

Wendy - last year

All great suggestions – though giving up AC isn't an option here in Arizona when it gets to 120. 🙂 Keeping the blinds closed is huge!

Whiskey Tango Foxtro - last year

We live in Florida, and our energy bill is insane during the summer. These are some tips I will certainly be utilizing within these next few months!

Taylor Speikers - last year

These are great tips – we definitely need to start hang drying our clothes! What a great way to reduce electricity use!

The Resourceful Mama - last year

Great tips! My son just brought me a Morning Glory plant he planted at school. I'm looking forward to planting it in my flower bed.

Cara W - last year

You really shared some very helpful tips! During the summer time is when our energy bill really goes up. It's frustrating, but what can we do? It gets over 100 degrees in our area…yikes! I definitely try to keep the window blinds down because it does not bring in the heat. We use ceiling fans as well. I love your tip about minimally stocking the fridge. Good idea!

ac5398 - last year

Thank you for the solar film tip. Great ideas!

grammomsblog - last year

I've used an 'emergency blanket' from the dollarstore cut-to-size on windows to keep the sun out (reflective side out) but I can still see through it. I adhere it with two sided tape, also from the dollarstore. Small investment = big savings.

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