Summer in Central Texas means cranking up the air conditioning, but that can translate into higher electric bills. These seven tips from Austin Energy can help you keep your utility bills lower as the days get hotter:
1. Beware of phantom load: Unplug appliances and electronic devices when you aren’t using them. They use energy even when they are turned off. Turn off your lights when you leave home.
2. Stick to microwave meals: Or grill outside! A microwave or a slow cooker uses less energy and produces less heat. Avoid turning on the oven during the hottest time of the day.
3. Cold cleaning: Wash clothes in cold water to avoid having your washing machine use energy to heat the water.
4. Wait until you get home: Turn off your air conditioning or raise the thermostat to 85 degrees when you are away from home for two hours or more.
5. Cool yourself, not the room: Point fans in your direction. Fans blowing directly on you can make temperatures around you feel up to 5 degrees cooler. Only keep fans on when you are in the room.
6. Think like a vampire: Close the shades or curtains on windows hit by direct sunlight. This can prevent heat from getting indoors.
7. Get out of the house: Let someone else pay the energy bills. Go to a movie, a library, a shopping center or community center and take advantage of climate-controlled activities away from home.