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Friday, 27 June, 2008 10:48 PM

Simple Ways to Save on Energy Costs This Summer

Graphic courtesy of


Crazy gas prices and escalating food costs have nearly everyone looking for a way to save money this summer. Angie’s List has some simple ways to save a lot, but before we get to those, here’s the most effective way to save.

Properly maintaining your major appliances will save you the most, the longest and help you avoid huge repairs down the road. Air conditioners, refrigerators and water heaters are among your home’s biggest energy hogs. If they’re not regularly serviced, they’ll lose about five percent of their original efficiency for each year of operation.

Who’s throwing away their cash by not maintaining these appliances? About half of us, according to a new Angie’s List ( nationwide poll:

But wait! There are other ways to save:

Air conditioner

  • Dialing for dollars: Each degree you go below 78 degrees increases your energy consumption by about 8 percent. If your monthly electric bill is about $100, you’ll save $8 a month with EACH degree you can stand above 78.
  • Programmable thermostats cost between $100 and $150, but they’ll help you more easily adjust your room temperature to be higher when you’re asleep or not home and lower when you need it.
  • Inspect your filters every other month: Replace your dirty air filters to save even more by keeping your a/c running at top efficiency.
  • Made in the shade: Air conditioners with proper shading can be more efficient. Air in a shaded space is cooler than the surrounding air meaning the AC will have an easier time cooling the air before pumping it into the home.

Water heater

  • Lower your water heater base temperature to 120 degrees: You won’t notice the temperature drop, but you’ll notice the savings.
  • Drain a quart of water from your water heater tank every 3 months to remove sediment that slows down heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. Your owner’s manual should offer instruction.
  • Properly insulate your water heater tank and pipes to increase efficiency. Don’t cover the tank thermostat.
  • Use low-flow faucets and shower heads throughout your home to decrease the amount of water, and energy, used.


  • Clean the condenser coils at least annually.
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers.
  • Check door seals to ensure they’re airtight.
  • Check the temperature. Recommended settings are 37° to 40°F for fresh food and 5°F for the freezer. Stand-alone freezers should be kept at 0°F.
  • Refrigerators should last about 15 years. If yours is more than six-years-old and repair will cost more than half its original cost, get a newer, more energy efficient model.

Other large appliances:

  • Turn off electronics when they are not in use.
  • Run dishwashers and washing machines only when you have a full load, but don’t overload them.
  • Skip the drying cycle on your dishwasher
  • Replace washer fill hoses every five years.
  • Inspect and clean the exhaust duct on the clothes dryer at least once a year.
  • Clean the lint filter before each use.
  • Wash clothes with warm or cold water to save on heating costs. Dialing down from hot can cut your washer’s energy load by more than 50 percent.


  • Artificial lighting consumes almost 15 percent of an average home’s electricity use.
  • Turn off the lights in any room you’re not using.
  • Install timers to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.
  • Consider high-efficiency bulbs but pay attention to proper disposal of those that contain mercury.

Other simple ways to save money this summer include:

  • Move during the week: Summer is peak season for movers. Schedule your move for mid-week instead of the weekend.
  • Check your home and garage for any signs of insect damage: July is the height of insect season and a good time to look for signs of termites or other pests that could harm your home. Getting rid of them when they first light can save you big bucks down the road, and summer is the best time to schedule a professional exterminator.
  • Landscaping can reduce cooling costs: Plant trees and shrubs on the east and west sides of the house to shield the rays of the sun. Trees alone can add 3 to 7 percent to the value of your home.
  • Be flexible and willing to coordinate. If your service company has more than one customer in your neighborhood, see if you can coordinate with those other customers. This can cut down on your contractor’s fuel costs, and keep him/her from passing them on to you.


  • Regular engine tune-ups: Have your mechanic do regular checks to avoid fuel economy problems. Follow your car manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. Annual, biannual and mileage-based preventative maintenance is intended to give technicians the chance to uncover any problems in the early stages.
  • Monitor tire inflation and mileage: Regularly monitor your tire inflation and mileage to save money at the gas pump and in the repair shop. Proper tire inflation helps you get better gas mileage. A drop in fuel efficiency is often the first warning sign of a problem, so monitoring your mileage can catch a problem before it gets too big (and expensive).
  • Replace air filters: Air filters protect your engine and can improve gas mileage up to 10 percent.
  • Know your oil: Check your owner’s manual to see if your car has a specific oil type and make sure your mechanic uses that type. Using different motor oil can lower your gasoline mileage by 1 to 2 percent.
  • Combine errands into one trip: Several short trips, each one taken from a cold start, can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.

    *1,909 Angie’s List members took our poll. Responses are representative of Angie’s List members, but not the general public.

Source: Angie's List



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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.