It's summertime and the living is...expensive. That first electric bill once the weather warms up can make dreams of trips to the beach quickly dissolve into questioning whether you'll need a second mortgage to cover the basics. Keep that trip on the books by looking for ways to lower your electric bill. The following options are listed from easiest and cheapest to more time and expense intensive.
Turn off the Heat
Even if you're running the AC, there are many appliances in your home that are using heat. Start with your hot water heater. Lowering the temperature on your water heater will not only save money, it's an important safety measure that can prevent burns. If it's in your budget, consider moving to a tankless water heater. Next is the dishwasher. Using a heated drying cycle not only uses a lot of energy, it directly counters the effectiveness of your air conditioner. Let your dishes air dry overnight, or use a dish towel. Finally, your clothes dryer is sucking up energy for a job that can easily be done for free in your backyard. Hanging clothes to dry is less expensive, more environmentally friendly, and in the summer can be much faster than running the dryer. Like the dishwasher, your dryer can also be counterproductive to cooling the air, creating a hot, humid environment when you need it least.
Consider other possibilities like using your oven later in the day, when it is already cooler outside. Besides keeping your home cooler, many utility companies offer a discount for avoiding electricity use during peak hours, helping them avoid a system overload. When you do use your appliances, use them to full capacity. Only run the dishwasher when it's full, keep your freezer loaded and only run full loads of laundry.
Call in the Pros
To find ways to save that are specific to you, call your utility company for an energy audit. Most utility providers will come to your home and go through it with you, finding ways, big and small, for you to save electricity. It is especially important to seek professional support when doing anything with your electricity if you are a business with RTU. Have your heating and cooling systems serviced annually. This is an important one where you need to plan ahead. Call your HVAC service provider before summer. It's always faster to get a repair or replacement before your less foresighted neighbors need emergency services in the middle of a heat wave. Annual maintenance will keep your air cleaner, but also keep the system running at its most efficient.
Cut Down the Light
For the least expensive option here, simply close your drapes. Closing the curtains on the sunny side of your house will keep your interiors cool and shaded. A more expensive but also simple option is adding tint to your windows. For a complete overhaul consider landscaping for shade, adding trees and bushes to protect your house from the sun, as well as installing double pane windows and sliding doors. Even if new landscaping and windows aren't in your budget it's worth your time to check the seals around your doors and windows, replacing worn or torn seals.
If you've looked at LED light bulbs but were turned off by the price, know that LED lights are investments that pay for themselves. A standard incandescent bulb costs five times as much to run, and will last only 1/25th as long as an LED! Those LEDs are bright too, so besides the cost savings, it is another good reason to invest in dimmer switches. Dimmer switches allow you to use less electricity while still having enough light to live and work by.
Amp up the Solar
One of the options for cutting your electric bill which takes the most time and money is also the one with the biggest savings: go solar. Solar power allows your home to be practically self-sufficient. During sunny days solar panels can power your home, and even produce excess power which is sent back to the utility company, giving you a credit. On less sunny days, like the winter season in many places, you use those credits to pay for any power you need to pull from the utility company. Solar battery packs for the home are a new innovation which will allow homes to move completely off the grid, storing that excess power for their own use when needed. A solar installation can run many thousands of dollars, but the federal government and many states have programs that incentivize solar power, paying you back in tax breaks and direct refunds. Solar users save an average of $1,000 a year, and with rebates the initial investment can be as low as $5,000. Whether you're looking for free, or you want to go all-in, there are ways to keep your summer times easy.