Ask Amy show notes: 12 ways to save on your energy bills

It’s that time of year that our electric bills jump way up. In your car and in your home, it is difficult to escape the heat. Amy Davis is joined by producer Andrea Slaydon to discuss surviving the summer heat and 12 ways to save money while doing it.

Watch the Ask Amy episode in the video player above.

12 ways to save on your energy bill

1. Follow the four-by-four principle. During the summer months, setting your thermostat four degrees higher when you’re away from home for more than four hours can help reduce electricity usage and costs. When your thermostat is set below 78°F, each degree cooler can increase your costs by up to seven percent. While the suggested temperature for ideal energy use in the summer is 78°, we know a comfortable temperature setting is a personal preference. No matter your preferred setting, the 4x4 principle will help you reduce your usage and ultimately save on your electricity bill.

Federal guidelines recommend setting your thermostat to 78 degrees during the day and 85 when you are out of the house.

2. Change the way you do laundry. Switching that laundry wash setting from hot water to cold can save you $22 A YEAR. You can also toss a dry towel in with your load to help significantly reduce drying times. If you’re doing seven loads a week, you could save $27 a week.

3. Insulate your home. Insulating your home is one of the best ways to lower your electricity bill. You can make your own attic tent that keeps the hot air in your attic from going down into your home. It can also help the cool air from going into the attic.

4. Know about smart thermostats. If you have a smart thermostat, are you using it correctly? You can set it to increase the temperature while you are away from home.

Some people are afraid of the smart thermostats because they believe that your electric provider can change your temperature anytime they want. That is only true if you give them permission to do that. But some companies are tricky about it.

Last summer Rick O’Loughlin contacted us when he discovered he had mistakenly given his provider TriEagle Energy permission.

O’Loughlin did opt out of the program. Something else we learned: electric providers receive financial incentives for every kilowatt of electricity they are able to curtail through these demand response programs. TriEagle wouldn’t tell us how much it makes when it adjusts customer’s thermostats even when ERCOT and Centerpoint aren’t asking us to conserve energy.

5. Replace your own air conditioning capacitators. This is the busy season for HVAC companies in Houston and one of the most common repairs they have to make- is replacing air conditioning capacitors.

You can do it yourself very carefully and you could save yourself hundreds of dollars. If you do buy a capacitor, get a spare or two at the same time. You can buy them on Amazon.

Capacitor can last anywhere from one year to 15 years. You can even buy one and call an electrician to instal it for you.

6. Unplug vampire energy suckers.

Unplugging devices when you’re not using them can save another $8.33 a month. Think computers, printers, and even all those smart speakers and devices that are constantly connecting to wifi.

The Department of Energy has a helpful list of high-energy use devices. Last year in August, we put together a story- and showed you 5 things you could do at home to save 816-dollars a year in energy costs.

7. Change the way you wash dishes. Using the Department of Energy calculator we figured that running your dishwasher daily costs about $161.50 a year. Split that cost in half by choosing the quick wash option and cutting out the drying cycle and saving $80.75.

8. Air dry your clothes and laundry. And while we’re on the subject of air drying, get yourself a clothesline and try hanging your clothes and towels to dry instead of using the dryer. The Department of Energy said this will save you about $9.53 a month or $114.36 a year.

9. Think about oven use. The oven is something that not only uses a lot of electricity but also gets hot. In the kitchen, a countertop air fryer can save you a significant amount of money if you use this instead of your oven. Using the air fryer instead of your oven, according to the Department of Energy appliance energy calculator, would save you about could save $89.08 a year.

10. Change the water temperature in your home. You can do this by turning down the heat on your water heater.

11. Help appliances not work so hard. For example, don’t put hot food in the fridge or freezer. Let food cool before placing it inside and save the extra energy for the fridge to cool down.

12. Cool down your car. Do you recirculate the air? Roll down the windows? Crank it up to max cold? Consumer Reports says your car’s AC works much better when your vehicle is moving. So, get in and turn on the A/C and start driving. Make sure your cabin air filter is clean.

Related KPRC content links

Is turning up the AC to conserve electricity bad for your home?

AC repair you can do yourself

You may be giving others access to change your home thermostat

5 ways to cool off your car fast in the Houston heat

5 things to do around your home to save on your electricity bill

Lowering your electricity bill

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About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.