Summer is upon us, and in Arizona that means consistent triple-digit days are just around the corner. If you’ve lived in the desert for at least one summer, you already know about the havoc those hot desert days can wreak on your energy bill. Luckily, there are key ways to stay cool and comfortable without breaking the bank – 27 of them, in fact.
Keep the heat out of your home.
Protecting your home from the sun’s blistering rays starts outside. Your home’s west- and east-facing walls get hit the hardest, leading to heat gain in rooms in these areas.
Here are the best ways to shade your home for top energy savings:
- Plant shade trees. SRP customers can get two free trees by attending a shade tree workshop this summer.
- Install shade screens. Shading your windows with protective screens can cut cooling costs by up to 25%.* SRP offers a shade screen rebate. If you’re interested in installing your own, we also offer a handy DIY video.
- Ensure windows and doors are weatherized. Spend some time this spring inspecting the weather stripping around exterior doors and windows to ensure cracks are sealed and the air isn’t leaking into your home. Caulk around window frames and all exterior wall penetrations, such as pipes, electrical boxes and vents.
- Install porch overhangs and awnings. These can provide great protection from the sun’s rays when properly sized and positioned over windows.
- Create a cool microclimate around your home. Planting desert-adapted trees and plants around your home can help keep windows, walls and concrete around your home cooler. The shade provided by landscaping can be as much as 9° cooler, according to energy.gov. Plus, you can keep outdoor entertainment areas shaded so you can enjoy them year-round with friends and family.
Use your air conditioner wisely.
During the summer, air conditioning can account for 50% or more of your total electric bill. That’s why it’s critical to ensure your AC unit is operating efficiently and effectively.
Follow these tips to save energy and money:
- Bump up the thermostat. Set the thermostat at 78° to 80° when you are home and up to 85° when you are away. For every degree you set your thermostat above 80, you can save approximately 2% to 3% on cooling costs.
- Install a smart thermostat. Increase your AC unit’s efficiency automatically with a smart thermostat. Score an instant rebate on a new smart thermostat in the SRP Marketplace, and sign up for our Bring Your Own Thermostat (BYOT) program to get a $75 bill credit per device.
- Turn your air conditioning fan to “auto.” This turns the fan motor off when the unit isn’t cooling. Using “auto” rather than “on” can save you $15 to $25 each month on your energy costs.
- Leave the air vents open. Closing air vents in more than 10% of your total conditioned space creates a pressure imbalance and reduces the effectiveness of your cooling system.
- Create additional comfort with ceiling fans. Set ceiling fans to blow down during the summer to circulate air rather than lowering the thermostat. Turn fans off when leaving a room, because fans cool a person, NOT the room.
- Do moisture-producing chores when it is cooler. Your cooling system has to work harder when there’s extra moisture in the air (produced by your dishwasher or washing machine, for example). Save these tasks for the early morning or after dark. This will also benefit your off-peak usage if you’re on a time-of-day price plan such as EZ-3 or Time-of-Use or the electric vehicle plan.
- Change your air filters. If your air filters are dirty, your AC unit is working harder. Set a reminder to change your filters regularly to increase the efficiency of your AC and ensure its long life.
- Find and repair leaky ducts. In a typical home, about 20% of the air that moves through the duct system is lost because of improper installation.** In fact, leaky ducts can cost you $200 or more a year. Take advantage of SRP’s Duct Test and Repair rebate to identify places in your home where energy escapes.
- Get your AC unit serviced annually. Arizona summers can be tough on your cooling system, and there’s not much worse than a broken AC when temperatures are 110° or higher. It’s recommended that you get your AC unit inspected, cleaned and serviced by a certified contractor at least once a year.
- Replace your AC unit when it’s time. If you’re considering upgrading your AC, take advantage of the SRP Cool Cash Rebate Program and get up to $1,125 back on a new energy-efficient AC, heat pump or mini-split system.
If you have a pool, keep it clean and energy-efficient.
A pool is a great way to cool off during those hot summer days, but your pool pump is likely the second-largest electric user in your household. Follow these tips to keep your swimming pool’s energy use to a minimum:
- Install a variable speed pool pump. Have a pool professional calibrate your pool pump to maximize efficiency and save you around 70% a year on pool-related energy costs.
- Install a timer on your pool pump. Run only as long as necessary each day to keep the water clean. In general, run your pool pump eight to 12 hours per day during the summer (and six to eight hours during the winter). If you’re on a time-of-day plan, be sure to run it off-peak.
- Clean strainer baskets and filters regularly. This will help your pool pump run more efficiently.
- Keep your pool chemicals properly balanced. Balanced chemicals are more effective for clean water than operating the filter for longer periods.
- Avoid draining and refilling your pool by using new technologies that can remove excess hard minerals. Reverse osmosis filtration products and services, for example, can help eliminate unwanted minerals without wasting water
- Use a conventional or liquid pool cover. These can reduce evaporation 40% to 50%!
Give your home a break when you take a vacation.
As you escape the Arizona heat this summer, it’s important to prep your home for energy savings while you’re away. Although you may not be home, your refrigerator, water heater and cooling system, along with a handful of smaller appliances, may be running almost as much as usual.
Luckily, there are a few ways to prep your home and give it a break while you’re getting that much-needed R&R:
- Drape your windows. Before you leave, close all interior blinds and curtains to lower the amount of heat entering your home.
- Moisturize the air. Place several large buckets of water in the bathtub to add moisture to your home. Ask someone to refill the buckets as needed.
- Turn off your electric water heater at the circuit breaker or fuse box, and close the cold water inlet valve. Before you turn the breaker back on, open the supply line and run water from the hot water faucet to be certain the heater is full.
- Consider your refrigerator. If you’ll be away for a while, turn your refrigerator’s thermostat control to a slightly warmer setting. If you’ll be gone for an extended vacation you may want to empty, clean and turn off your refrigerator. Prop the door open to help prevent mold and mildew.
- Turn off all lights except those needed for security. Use timers to control lights left on for security purposes.
- Unplug all non-security appliances. This includes computers, TVs, clocks and any device containing a transformer plug (cellphone chargers, wireless telephones, etc.)
There you have it: 27 ways to stay cool and comfortable this summer while saving as much energy as possible. Are there other ways you save during the hottest time of the year?
*Results may vary based on orientation, size of windows and screen material.
**Results may vary based on actual home’s duct leakage and age, quality of install and length of ductwork.