As historic heat waves hit Alabama and many other states across the U.S., most of us are staying inside to avoid temperatures approaching and in the triple digits. However, keeping cool when temperatures are this high can drive up utility costs. Try these eight energy-saving tips to manage your energy use now and throughout the summer.
Take advantage of summer’s long days. In the mornings and evenings, leave your lights off and open the blinds instead. Using natural light to illuminate your home is a simple way to reduce your energy use. Just remember to close the blinds and curtains in the afternoon or before leaving for work.
Invest in thermal curtains that keep out heat and light. The most effective thermal curtains have blackout technology, with at least two layers of woven fabric. Southern Living magazine recommends thermal curtains made of microfiber or polyester. Close your curtains during the hottest part of the day (noon to 4:30 p.m.) to keep the heat out.
We recommend setting your thermostat at 78 degrees during the day and turning on your ceiling fans to stay cool. (Keep in mind that ceiling fans cool you – they don’t cool the room.) If you prefer to set your thermostat at a lower temperature, follow the 20-degree rule.
Heating and cooling experts recommend setting your thermostat no lower than 20 degrees cooler than the temperature outside. For example, if it’s 94 degrees out, set your thermostat to 74 degrees. Following the 20-degree rule reduces stress on your air-conditioning unit. If your AC unit must cool your home more than 20 degrees, it will struggle to cool and dehumidify the air. Over time, this stress will shorten the life of the unit.
After removing food from the oven or after cooking on the stovetop, turn on the exhaust fan to remove hot air from the room. Turn it off after 15 minutes to ensure it doesn’t start removing air-conditioned air. (Be sure to clean the grease filter in the range hood, so it vents properly.)
Air conditioners use a lot of energy, especially when temperatures are above 90 degrees. Your AC must work even harder when the air filter is dirty and the vents are clogged with dust. Take a few minutes to clean the vents, open them completely and change the air filter to help your AC unit work more efficiently.
Your clothes dryer is another high-energy-use appliance. This season, give your dryer a break by hanging laundry outside to dry. Along with reducing energy use, reserving your dryer for rainy days can increase its lifespan.
Summer is a great time to try your new air fryer or Instant Pot, or pull out the George Foreman grill. Small appliances like these cook faster, use less energy and produce less heat.
Use large appliances, such as the washing machine and dishwasher, during the coolest parts of the day, such as in the morning or evening.
Want to discover more ways to take control of your energy use? Check out Alabama Power’s Warm Weather Tips page. Find out about Time Advantage Rates, get a Personalized Energy Checkup, sign up for High Bill Alerts or view your Daily Energy Usage Tracker.