Reduce Your Summer Electric Bills
Are your summer electric bills out-of-control? While many homeowners look forward to summer, no one is excited to receive that first June utility bill in the mail. As we all know, cooling your home in the hottest months of the year can get expensive. It’s time to take back control of your electric bills.
In this article, we’ll review some practical ways you can lower your summer cooling costs and live more efficiently. From improving your air conditioner’s efficiency to planting shade trees, here’s how you can cool down without blowing your budget.
How can I lower my AC bill?
Here are just a few ways you can lower your AC bill heading into our Albuquerque summer:
Get an AC checkup
Aiming for an energy-efficient summer? Start in the spring. Our seasonal AC checkup is a game changer for your home—and your upcoming utility bills.
Here’s how it works. When our technician arrives for your checkup, they’ll start by inspecting the air conditioner for any critical issues that might lead to a breakdown. As part of their comprehensive, 40-point inspection, they’ll review the entire system—indoors and outdoors—for problems. Next, they’ll clean the coils and remove dust and debris that can keep the air conditioner from operating efficiently. This will pay the most dividends over the summer.
There’s a few other things our technicians do that can make a huge difference. For instance, they’ll calibrate your air conditioner and your thermostat, ensuring both are working in-sync and cooling your home effectively and efficiently. And, of course, we’ll also take the time to talk to you, answer your questions, and provide you with anything you need to know about energy savings, efficiency upgrades, or programmable thermostats (more on this below).
Ready to book your AC checkup? Click the button below and fill out the form to get started.
SCHEDULE AN AC CHECKUP
Make your home more efficient
Once you’ve accounted for your air conditioner through our seasonal checkup, it’s time to turn attention to your home. Many homes here in Albuquerque and Santa Fe are relatively inefficient: they don’t have enough attic insulation, feature single-pane windows, or have significant air leaks around window frames and doors. In combination, these inefficiencies could be adding up to major energy waste—and a major burden on your wallet!
Your air ducts are the key to your home’s energy-efficiency. They transport cooled air from the AC blower to the individual rooms of your home. This is often an imperfect journey: gaps, cracks, and pinholes in your ducts can lead to costly air leaks. A good percentage of that cooled air never even makes it to your living room!
Have our team seal and insulate your home’s ducts. This process can save anywhere from 20 to 30% of the cooled or heated air that would have otherwise been lost in your attic. That means less work for your air conditioner, and lower energy bills for you. Over multiple summers, air duct sealing can pay for itself, and then some.
Block out the light
The more sunlight that pours into your home, the more heat energy is coming in through your doors and windows. There are two ways to address this problem. First, you can block light from the inside by closing blinds and curtains. If you don’t currently have curtains, look into sun-blocking or “blackout” curtains that block at least 90% of incoming sunlight.
Your blinds and curtains are only part of the battle. After all, that light is still hitting the window glass, heating it up. To really make an impact on your home’s cooling bills, plant some shade trees outside of your home, strategically positioned to block the afternoon sun from hitting the sides of your house. On their own, shade trees can reduce your summer electric bills by up to 20%!
Shade trees are relatively inexpensive, which makes this a cost-effective way to save on your energy bills that also has the added benefit of beautifying your yard.
Adjust your thermostat
“Don’t turn down your thermostat” might sound like pretty basic advice for lowering air conditioning costs. But, there’s actually a lot to thermostats and setting a “schedule” for cooling. Here’s what you need to know:
Go up a few degrees at a time
Obviously, what’s “comfortable” ultimately comes down to personal preference. However, most homeowners keep their homes at about 78 degrees. That’s the temperature the U.S. Department of Energy recommends, since it has the best balance between comfort and energy savings.
If you’ve been used to keeping your home at lower temperatures (say, 71 degrees), gradually work your way up to 78 over the course of a week or two. Your body will eventually adjust to the higher temperature. Meanwhile, you’ll be saving money with every incremental step: for every degree you go up, your cooling bills will be about 3% lower.
This obviously applies to times when you’re home. If you’re planning on being away from your house, set your thermostat a few degrees higher, like 81 or 82. Just don’t turn the AC off entirely: cooling down a heated home when you return from work in the evening actually requires more energy at peak hours.
Save with a smart thermostat
If you don’t have one already, you should consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. Also known as “programmable” thermostats, these devices help you save energy (and money) in multiple ways.
First, they eliminate the inevitable human error that comes with traditional thermostats. Every homeowner, at one point or another, has done the thing where they’ve left the thermostat turned down and drove off to work, or left the thermostat on while on vacation. With a smart thermostat, you can automate temperature changes to fit your schedule. Or, if worse-comes-to-worse, you can get on the app and adjust your thermostat from just about anywhere.
As a final note, many utility companies—including PNM here in Albuquerque and Santa Fe—offer special programs to homeowners with smart thermostats. In exchange for a rebate, the utility can take over your thermostat on high-demand days and automate temperature changes to reduce peak demand. For example, they’ll cool down your home earlier in the day, and then let your home “ride out” that cooling through the high-demand hours of the late afternoon.
See our other energy-saving tips
Looking for more ways to save on your home’s utility bills? Check out these other energy-savings tips from our team:
Watch your electrical use
More than half the energy your home uses in the summer goes toward keeping things cool. But, that still leaves a ton of other ways you can cut down your electric bills. Here’s just a few things to look at:
Use peak hours to your advantage
PNM, along with many other utility companies, offers peak hour pricing. In exchange for a lower overall rate, you agree to be charged a higher rate during peak hours (3 p.m. – 6 p.m.). This “peak” corresponds to the time that most people are getting home, cooking dinner, turning down the AC, and turning on computers and TVs. If you’re willing to amend your schedule—or already have an unconventional schedule where you’re out of the house during that time, anyway—you can save some serious money.
Even if you’re home during peak hours, it might make sense to enroll in this savings program. To get around peak hours pricing, consider:
- Making no-cook dinners, such as salads and wraps, or preparing food the night before that just needs to be reheated in the microwave.
- Using that time to get out of the house on a walk, leaving computers, televisions, and other appliances turned off.
- Using a programmable thermostat to lower the temperature of your home in advance of peak hours, and then scaling back your air conditioner use during the peak hours period.
To learn more about peak hours eligibility here in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, check out the PNM website.
Replace inefficient appliances
You don’t necessarily need to rush out to the hardware store to replace all of your home’s appliances. But, if you’re still rolling with older, inefficient appliances that are more than two decades old, it might be time to start thinking about replacing them.
Today’s refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers are more energy-efficient than ever before. They require far less energy to run, which can make a big difference if you’re running your dishwasher every night. When starting your shopping, look for appliances with the Energy Star label on them—this tells you that they’re among the most-efficient models available.
Upgrade your water heater
There’s probably one major appliance you’re overlooking: your water heater. As it turns out, continually heating water for use at the tap or showerhead requires a decent amount of energy. That may not necessarily be electricity, if you have a gas water heater, but—either way—you’re still paying for it.
If you’re ready to replace your water heater, consider upgrading to a tankless water heater, instead. These systems have several advantages over their traditional, tank cousins. Perhaps most notably, they can provide busy homes and families with limitless hot water—a gamechanger if you’re constantly running out on hectic weekday mornings. They’re also about 30% more energy-efficient than standard water heaters.
That might not seem like much, but it can really add up throughout the years. For most homeowners, the energy savings they get from their tankless system are more than enough to justify the slightly higher price tag for these systems.
At Wagner, we love helping local homeowners save money and live more comfortably. From our comprehensive AC checkups to our water heater replacement services, we’re here for you and everything your home needs. When you need an expert, you need Wagner!