10 ways to save money on electricity during the summer heat of CT

Temperatures are soaring near the 90s this weekend in Connecticut, so it’s worth making sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your energy consumption low and your electric bill down.

You may not be able to do anything about the weather, there is still plenty you can do in your home, starting with keeping the thermostat between 72 degrees and 76 degrees.

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There’s a lot of basic maintenance that homeowners can do themselves to help their air conditioners run longer and run more efficiently, said Cindy Rossler, HVAC sales manager for ARS Rescue Rooter Houston.

One way to tell if you’re spending too much on electricity is the 10 percent rule: Your monthly utility bill should be no more than 10 percent of your home’s square footage. For a 2,500-square-foot home, that’s no more than $250 a month. If it’s more than that, find any of these ways to make your home more energy efficient.

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Electric thermostat.

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1. Change HVAC filters regularly.

Roesler recommends a monthly swap; If this is not possible, try to do it every three months. A dirty filter inefficiency can increase your electric bill by 10 percent and, in the worst case, cause the fan motor to fail. (This is important, because your oven is the “brains” of your HVAC system, she said.)

2. Keep the outdoor air conditioning unit out in the open, and if you leave it outside, stay away from bushes or fences that can suffocate the unit and obstruct its ventilation system.

3. If leaves, pine needles, or other debris get into the unit, spray it with a garden hose using the pressure nozzle. Debris can limit the amount of air flowing into the coils, so keep outside coils clean and remove debris.

4. For those who keep air conditioning units in the attic, use algae tablets in the unit’s drain pan to prevent algae growth and keep drains from clogging, Rossler said.

5. Consider installing a programmable thermostat.

You can set it to specific temperatures at specific times; Warmer when you’re not at home, for example. The high-tech versions use geo-fencing to detect when you’re at home and when you’re not. They can start cooling the house when you’re on your way home so it’s the temperature you want it to be when you get there.

6. Maintaining tight seals on windows and doors can keep the incoming air cool and the air hot, thus saving money on your electric bill. Don’t forget to turn off your heater, said Roessler, because it can suck in cold air, too.

7. Use foam protectors under the socket switch boards. While the vents don’t let in a lot of hot air, they do let some in, and covering them is easy.

ceiling fan.
ceiling fan.

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8. Americans are divided on ceiling fans: we either love them or we hate them.

However, you can’t deny that air continues to flow in your home until you feel cooler. Another smart move to keep air flowing throughout your home is to keep bedroom doors open. Privacy-enthusiastic teens aren’t likely to agree, so parents may need to negotiate this.

9. Your air conditioning unit should last 10 to 12 years – longer if you take good care of it.

One thing that is sure to help them last longer is to install the compressor guard, also known as a “hard start kit”. This kit helps them use less power draw each time they start. This alone can extend the life of an air conditioner compressor by two to four years.

10. If it’s time to buy a new air conditioner, make sure you get the right one.

The first element is getting the right size for your home. Another issue is the unit’s SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating, which rates a unit’s cooling capacity on its energy input. (In Texas, you’ll need a SEER rating of at least 14.) You’ll also need to research whether you want a two-stage, two-stage, or variable speed unit.

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