CREDO Tip: 15 Ways to Save Energy and Money This Summer

People were cooler in the ’80s. Literally. The last time the global monthly temperature was below average was February 1985. Which means that if you were born after that date, you have not enjoyed a cooler-than-average month in your entire life.

Climate change is the most urgent existential problem facing our planet. That’s why we mobilize our millions of CREDO members to take action on climate justice issues and support groups like 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, and Earthjustice through our CREDO donations program.

Of course, we also try to do our part at home by conserving energy where we can to shrink our carbon footprint. As an added benefit, when we reduce our energy use, we can also save money on our energy bills. Here are 15 suggestions for saving energy and money this summer.

Use a programmable or smart thermostat.
Programmable and smart thermostats can help regulate energy use by offering pre-programmable settings depending on the time of day. The goal is to realize energy and cost savings without sacrificing comfort. You program in the desired temperature depending on the time of day. Some smart thermostats can also “learn” your heating and cooling habits and adjust the temperature in your home. Here’s a guide on how to use programmable thermostats properly.

Close your curtains.
Shut your curtains or blinds to keep out the heat during the day. Doing this can cut home heat gain by 45%, according to the Department of Energy. Curtains are not as effective as blinds, but even a medium-color curtain with white plastic on the back can cut heat gain by 33%.

Set your AC higher.
If you use air conditioning, set it at the highest temperature you can tolerate comfortably. You’ll save 10% a year on your cooling bill by setting your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees higher for eight hours each day. Also: AC will not cool a space faster if you crank it to the maximum when you get home. Dialing the thermostat down to 60 won’t get you to 70 any quicker. You’ll just waste extra energy and money.

Get a fan.
If you don’t have a ceiling fan at home, a floor fan will also do a great job of keeping you cool. If you use air conditioning, a good fan will allow you to raise your thermostat 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort, according to Energy.gov, though your personal results may vary.

Make a personal AC.
Put a bowl of ice in front of an electric fan. The fan will blow the cold air in your direction and keep you cool. This uses a lot less energy than air conditioning. And it really is a thing, we didn’t make it up! It actually does work, if only for a short while.

Close doors and vents.
Don’t waste energy cooling rooms you don’t spend time in. Close the doors to these rooms and shut the vents that supply them.

Check seals on windows and doors.
Make sure the seals around your windows and doors are in good shape and provide an air-proof seal. Check the weather stripping and the caulking around the doors and windows, the glazing (the substance that holds the panes of glass in place) and the threshold under each door. If any of these are damaged or are not tight, have them repaired.

Plant trees.
If you have a house, plant more trees, shrubs and bushes around the edges. They not only provide shade, but they also cool the air before it penetrates your walls and windows.

Line dry your clothes.
Clotheslines are making a comeback. And summer, of course, is the best time for line drying. The sun is available and you’ll keep radiant heat from the dryer out of your home. Also: Air dry your dishes if you have a dishwasher.

Turn off bathroom and kitchen fans.
To keep your bathroom and kitchen ventilation fans from pushing cooled air out of your house, you’ll want to turn them off about 10 minutes after their job is done.

Wash in cold water.
A whopping 90% of the power consumed by your washing machine is used to heat the water for warm-water washing, according to Energy Star. Switch to the cold-water setting and you’ll save energy. But look for a cold-water detergent next time you’re shopping. They actually are formulated to work better in cold water, and the claim is not just marketing.

Turn down your water heater.
Water heating accounts for 15% to 25% of energy consumption in the average home, says the Department of Energy. Turning down the temperature 10 degrees Fahrenheit on your hot water heater saves 3% to 5% on energy costs, so a drop from 140 degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees Fahrenheit saves you 6% to 10%.

Use solar lighting outdoors.
Outdoor solar lights have improved markedly from the dim, short-lived lights of years past. Bright LEDs have replaced conventional bulbs and better photovoltaic cells have boosted efficiency. LEDs create light without generating heat, so they run on far less energy and last longer. The lights are simple to install and virtually maintenance free and provide free light for your yard.

Keep your electronics away from your thermostat
Electronic devices, be they lamps or laptops, generate heat. If you place one of these near your thermostat, it registers the temperature of the room as hotter than it actually is. Consider clearing electronics away from your thermostat. And since all electronics generate heat, make sure you turn them off when not in use. Even better, unplug them!

Clear debris around your air conditioner.
Check the outside area around your air conditioner and make sure it is clear of any debris. Maintaining clean and clear vents ensures the best possible ventilation.

Finally, remember to check out CREDO Energy, the new progressive power in renewables. Sign up and you’ll help the environment by offsetting your home’s carbon footprint with clean, renewable energy credits.

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