Insurance and Finance

Keep Your Electric Bills Low

By Peter Simek 7.1.18

No one needs to say it, but we’ll say it anyway. Texas summers are hot. They are hotter than hot. Texas summers are rubber-melting, skin-blistering, concrete-sizzling nightmares that turn autos into ovens and lawns into deserts. And as if surviving a Texas summer wasn’t enough of an ordeal, high utility bills can add insult to heat injury.

This summer, don’t resign yourself to the seeming inevitability of stratospheric electricity costs. Implement these simple strategies to keep cool — and keep dollars in your pocket.

Adjust to a Slightly Warmer House

This may not be the solution you want to hear. In the heat of the summer, you may find yourself longing for life on the North Pole. But don’t make the mistake of trying to make your house feel arctic.

Experts say 78 degrees is the optimal thermostat setting for the summer months. If that’s hotter than what you are used to, you can slowly accustom yourself to the warmth by upping the temperature one degree per day.

If you are still uncomfortable, comfort yourself with this thought: All your ancestors could do 75 years ago was open the window or retreat to the front porch.

Take Care of Your Gear

Besides plumbing and electricity, reliable air conditioning is the utility Texans most take for granted. But giving our machines a little extra love can go a long way.  

  • Change your air filters regularly. A dusty, stopped-up filter can add dollars to your electrical bill.
  • Schedule a tune-up for your HVAC unit each spring. Refrigerant top-ups and equipment inspections will ensure that your air conditioner is ready for its summer workout. 
  • Keep your vents open. It may seem counterintuitive, but closing vents in unused rooms actually makes your HVAC system run less efficiently. It increases the air pressure in your ducts, which can worsen airflow and cause you to increase your energy use. 
  • Test for drafts. To see if your window has a leak, close it and hold a lit candle near the seam. If the flame bends or flickers, you have a draft. Sealing it up will help you keep in the air you’re paying for. 

Establish a Set Routine

Most people don’t use their thermostats efficiently. Turning your thermostat to an extremely low temperature doesn’t make your house cool faster. And waiting until you are uncomfortable to turn down the temperature overworks your system.

Programmable thermostats can anticipate outside conditions. Programming to change the temperature throughout the day is a way to ensure that your home cools efficiently and doesn’t waste energy by letting the temperature run either too high or too low.

Throw Some Shade

Older Texas homes possessed design features that attempted to deal with extreme heat — like large attics, overhanging roofs, screened-in porches, and strategically positioned windows that facilitated cross-breezes.

Even though we now rely almost exclusively on our air conditioners to stay cool, these old-school cooling solutions still work:

  • Draw your shades during summer months.
  • Grow tall trees or bushes to shade west-facing windows.
  • Make sure your house is sealed to keep the cool air in and the heat out. 

Get Your Grill On

Stay cool by enjoying the outdoors. Ovens, clothes dryers, and other appliances can heat up your home and make it more difficult for your air conditioner to cool your living space. Give your system a hand by drying your clothes outside and cooking out.

For more ways to save money with home maintenance, learn how to keep summer pests at bay  and give your local Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent a call to make sure your home is protected from more serious summer threats.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2018 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance