Ten Ways You, Yes You, Can Save on Electricity.

Scarlet graduated kindergarten today, and it’s officially summer for us.

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I’m sifting through the memories and the large amount of emotional paperwork, artwork, writings and the diploma she took home. That and the fact that our central air is still broken and I’m nearly broken without it, I just want to curl up in a dark room and be alone for 17 days. Or 17 minutes. It was her kindergarten teacher’s last year before retirement and Scarlet was the princess in her little last day of school play. Now I think about summer. What was it like for our parents when we were kids? I remember it being endless and limitless – a soaring and long aerial view – looking down on Ocean City, Maryland and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Now you can add Cape Cod, islands of wild ponies, and moose to our summertime dreams.

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It’s here. And it’s spectacular.

With the ice dams of winter on our rooftop memories, and the humid heat of summer approaching, it amazes me how much we depend on electricity here in New England. After that long winter, I thought I’d never want to be cold or near snow again.

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Now it’s summer, we’re about ready to crank up the central air, and I have visions of snowflakes dancing in my head. Funny how that works. Sadly, I’m a central air person. People either are or they aren’t. My dad raised us with crisp central air, and I still remember how cranked the a/c would be in our rented condos in Myrtle Beach – 65 or so! I’d have to bundle up! Now I can’t live without it. When we were house-hunting, the realtor asked us what our deal breakers were in looking for a house. I said my near-perfect house had to have at least two bathrooms, and had to have central air-conditioning. She told me I might need to broaden my search up here in New England, where central air doesn’t grow on trees like it did in previous places I have lived, but we found a house that does have it. In the winter, we run a pellet stove for three months. In the summer, we run central air a lot. What’s a family to do to save money on electric bills with this kind of lifestyle? There are ways!

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  1. Do a nightly energy sweep. Cassidy is notorious for leaving on every fan, light and appliance. He also leaves cupboards and toilet seats open, but that’s another story. Turn off all household appliances like TV’s and computers when not being used.

  2. Wash clothes in cold water and hang laundry out to dry in the warmer months. Rotary washing lines from Velovision can help you to dry your clothes outside quickly.

  3. During the warmer months, set your thermostat to 76-78 degrees when you’re home, and turn it off when you’re not. This will use 1-3% less energy per degree when the thermostat is set above 72. Ceiling or room fans are a way to circulate air.

  4. During the colder months, turn down your heat at night or when you’re gone. You can save as much as 20% a year on heating bills just by adjusting a programmable thermostat by 4 to 8 degrees. It can be set up to suit your lifestyle.

  5. Upgrade your appliances to newer and more energy-efficient models. Many state and local governments, and many utility companies will offer financial incentives for homeowners to make these upgrades. This can be in the form of rebate checks.

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  1. Lights overhaul! Find the most effective places in your home for lights and light switches. You can paint your rooms in bright colors, because they reflect more light and use less of it. Replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs and use high quality L.E.D. or C.F.L. bulbs. Install and use dimmer switches at less than full brightness.

  2. Seal cracks and leaks in walls and around windows. Seal doors as well! You can get a tube of caulk for a few dollars.

  3. Use energy-saving blinds.

  4. Buy energy-efficient devices and not ones that are larger than necessary. Check for Energy Star or energy class labels.

  5. Consider solar power! Sunrun customers save on their electricity bills, because electricity from Sunrun is more affordable than electricity from your utility. Sunrun installs, insures, monitors and maintains a solar system that is specifically designed for your home – you just pay a low, locked-in rate for the electricity that the solar panels produce. This gives you control over electricity costs, and protects you against the unpredictable rate increases. It’s good for your wallet, and good for the planet – even the Scott brothers and Kylie Jenner have solar! The smartest way to power a home in these modern times is with clean, affordable electricity from the sun. Now, are you ready to go solar to save money on electricity, and help save the planet?

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Are you a central air-conditioning person or not?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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  1. Totally a central air girl, my twin! By the way, we still have until Friday for school to be over for Emma for the summer, but I am so ready as you already knew.

    1. Wow! I thought we had the longest school year of anyone. When do you go back? After Labor Day? If not, LAME!
      And yes, central air is my jam.

  2. I’m totally a central air person. Can’t live without it. When I lived in NY in my apartment we had air conditioning and when we moved here we had to have central air. I’m seriously considering solar panels for my home so I can save because our electricity bills are usually VERY high.

    1. I remember that we had no central air in college and it was like torture. No window units. Just crappy fans! If fans were really that good, we wouldn’t need central air! Bah!
      Ours still isn’t fixed. Luckily, it’s unseasonably cool.

  3. Solar energy would definitely be something I’d look into if 1) I’d have my own single family house and 2) I’d live in a(n even) sunnier area. Really good tips though.

    p.s. sorry for being MIA lately…

  4. Totally a central air girl myself. I can handle it (mostly) during the day – but I need it at night…

    And funny…as I was reading it I wondered if you’d thought of putting solar panels on that beautiful roof of yours. What with your hubs being so handy and all…

    1. Generally the mornings are pretty nice and the afternoons are borderline. By evening, the house has heated up above 80 if we don’t have the air on. We usually turn it on to cut through the humidity and stuffiness. Then the overnight usually doesn’t need it, though. Those New England night breezes with the open window are so good!

    1. Ugh, I’ve been there. It’s funny that I was raised on central air and now I can’t live without it. And you were not raised on it (like my husband), and you really want it now too.
      I guess it just comes in handy a lot!

  5. I grew up with central air but I’m so used to places in the Boston area NOT having it that it wasn’t even a consideration when we were looking for a condo — some sort of outdoor space and a driveway, equally as hard to come by around here — were on it. Amazingly we got all three! I’m definitely into using it sparingly because I’m such a fiend when it comes to trying to save on utilities, but it’s nice to know it’s here! We did a home energy assessment and apparently we are prime candidates for solar panels, so perhaps one day!

    And congrats on Scarlet graduating! 🙂

    1. It’s funny because ours hasn’t been working well but when it is, I usually error on the side of leaving it off until evening. Well lately we haven’t even really needed it much (the non-hot days) but still I panic because I like knowing that it would work, should I need it. And it’s not working!
      I hope they fix it quickly or I’ll be moving in with my parents for a stretch.

  6. With the heat here in June at 97 (crazy talk!) I’m definitely a central air gal and bring on the ceiling fans. Can’t handle stuffy air! But we do keep our thermostat higher than 75, so the bills are pretty good! Great tips!

    1. 97!? Ugh. With our central air not working, that would definitely lead me to check into a hotel or stay with a set of grandparents indefinitely.
      We keep ours around 76-78. I find that it’s comfy! Over that and it’s not!

  7. What fun things for Scarlet as she passes her first year of school!

    As for energy and air conditioning. It’s hard to live in the Southeast without, which is quite a blessing. We do some of the things listed, just because. It’s always nice to know we could be saving a bit by doing so. 🙂

    1. The nights here are pretty cool for the most part, so open windows do wonders, but sometimes the evening stuffiness is too much to bear.
      The heat doesn’t always do well with my anxiety.

    1. Thank you! She’s all nonchalant about graduating kindergarten and learning to read and write and being in the school play! I just want to yell to the world about it. She more cares about eating Oreos.

  8. These Are Ten Terrific Tips, Tamara! I wash my clothes in cold or warm water as often as I can. The first tv commercial that I remember to advertise washing in cold water was “Cold Water All” and featured spokesperson George Fenneman. The soap operas that my Mom used to watch would advertise that product like crazy fifty something years ago. Machine washing in cold water was revolutionary back in the day. Many of our light bulbs are the CFL bulbs and they really are impressive energy savers. When they finally burn out they should be disposed of properly for they contain toxic mercury. I make sure to weather strip the front and side doors during the winter months. Solar power makes so much sense. Thanks for the mention of Sunrun with its many money saving advantages. I really want to look into this.

    1. I used to be an Innkeeper and I often washed in cold! I thought that was just what to do!
      I really want to look into solar power too. It’s totally at the top of or list, in fact!

  9. Our first summer in our new home our ac bill was 375.00 per month! I became an energy nazi then and worked on trying to cut down our bill. We did indeed use all of your points and more and they really work! This summer, so far my bill has not broken 200 a month! Hallelujah!

      1. Thank you about Scarlet!
        $375! I can see that, though. With the intense heat. Congrats about not breaking $200! I suppose our bills are great because of these tips I use, and because.. our central air has been broken for two weeks.
        So there’s that.

        1. i think we would be dead if our air was broken for 2 weeks! How did early pioneers survive in wool, hose and petticoats??!! Hopefully you can get that ac fixed soon 🙂

          1. If you asked me a few hours ago, I’d tell you I was surely dying.
            However now with the New England breeze and the 55 degree night.. I’m doing ok!!!

  10. Yup Tamara, central air! My life changed when we ditched our old rectangular one-room conditioner for central. Oddly, since having lived on my own, I have yet to live in a place with central air. But yes on all your tips! Especially going for energy-efficient appliances. Totally worth it, and I’ll pay the extra money for it.

    1. That’s interesting! I wonder if you can get used to not having it. There’s certainly something to be said about breezes. When I lived in California, we needed no heat or no a/c although some foggy nights required a space heater.

  11. Happy summer and congratulations to Scarlet! My parents have solar panels on their home in Arizona, and they love it so much! We don’t have central air here, but we just got an AC unit for our bedroom. My husband is in heaven!

    1. Thanks, Lana!
      I imagine solar power goes far in the desert. I think that’s so interesting!
      I’m happy for your husband! We may need an AC unit just for the time being while we plot our next move.

    1. That’s so awesome!! My husband works in HVAC so at least we’re in the know about great technology, even if we can’t afford it yet.

  12. I would love to have solar panels, but I can’t afford any major home improvement projects. We also want a tankless water heater when our current one goes out. I would love having a house that is more energy efficient.
    We do have central air. It’s very necessary in Arkansas. Summer just started and we are already having 90 degree+ days. My grandmother doesn’t have central air, so it’s more comfortable to spend the hottest part of the day outside in the shade when we are at her house. But most people here depend on central air.

    1. I would think it’s so necessary. I find it necessary up here and it’s not very hot here! It’s certainly warm but usually bearable. And yet.. I need central air so badly.

  13. It is the 4th or 5th day of 115 degree temperatures in the desert this week. AC is a must in these parts and most of the city is a ghost town during peak heat.

    Love the shot of the ocean and sunset. One of your best (although it is hard to choose with your extensive lovely portfolio of pics).

    Congrats to Scarlet!

    1. Oh wow. I think I remember that about visiting my brother in Nevada in July. It was very different from here! Then when he’d visit us in the cold of winter or humidity of summer, he was very much not acclimated.
      Getting photography compliments always makes my day – thank you.

  14. I’d love to have solar panels on my home one day. I’m all about saving electricity and saving the earth. I’m a central AC person because that’s the way houses are built these days. However, I grew up with only window AC units and windows that were open. I loved a cool breeze coming through an open window.

    1. I definitely see a range based on where people live. It can get quite hot and sticky where you live! The central air cuts nicely through it. Even up here, I find it so necessary!
      I dream of solar panels.

  15. I am definitely a central air person. However, since we don’t have our own house I am, sadly, not in charge of the air or most of the electricity for that matter. Adam and I are pretty good about turning everything off and we often talk about how we would like to go solar, once we do have our own place!

  16. If my kids would just turn the lights off when they leave a room, we would be in much better shape here.

  17. When we were looking for home in Chicagoland not all the homes had central AC, that was a TOTAL DEAL BREAKER for me. With my babies and their seasonal allergies we run the AC more than I would like to. I wish I could open the windows more. For the longest time I have dreamt of having a LEED certified home. Maybe one day…

    1. Me too.. I’ll share that dream with you, if you don’t mind!
      The a/c definitely cuts through the allergies and the humidity like magic. I’m so sad without it right now, but it hasn’t really been over 80 so the nights cool the house down until we can get this all fixed.

  18. Great tips! I recently pulled out my fridge and vacuumed behind as well as the vent in front on bottom and wow because I heard it’s helps with energy efficiency. Here’s hoping it lowers my bill, at least a little.

  19. This is great. I’m always looking to save if and when I can. My kids are awful at turning lights off, fans off and tvs off…. So I’m trying to work on that currently!

  20. Thank you so much for the great tips on saving on electricity. We had such a hot month this past month that my electric bill jumped up $60 from the previous month. I keep my AC on 70 so I need to save where ever I can so I can continue to weather the heat in my cool home lol.

  21. I keep seeing these solar power installations on homes! I think if I lived in Cali it would be really efficent for me…I hope to move there within the next 2 years!

  22. Love your tips! I always wash my clothes in cold water. I can’t hang to dry because it’s too windy here. Our clothes would fly into the neighbor’s yard!

    1. ha! I can see how that would be rough during storm season. Sometimes I find mine on the grass from falling off the deck. I blame the cat, though.

  23. We have central air. It was a gift from my parents when we moved in and I was 8 months pregnant! Thank goodness for that! We also bought a programmable thermostat a few years ago, but we never installed it and now I need to go look for it again.

    1. What a great gift!! The programmable thermostat is pretty awesome. I’ve actually only ever had one and it’s so helpful when we’re leaving the house during extreme temp times.

  24. We keep the blinds closed in the summer to help the ac not have to work overtime and I unplug anything and everything to keep vampire power loss to a minimum.
    We also have a programmable thermostat which helps us save.

    1. Ours gets so cold and sometimes so hot. It can be tough on the energy bills during summer and winter! Spring and fall are so great, though.

  25. We have central air. We actually don’t use it that much because we tell the kids we can either heat the pool or use the air…lol. It does goon though when it really gets unbearable. I want solar panels in our next house!

    1. I think after having it broken, I’ve really learned the limits of how far we can go without it! I still want it in the house, but it’s also been nice not needing it with this weird early summer.

  26. Your first tip is a biggie for my family! We are all guilty of leaving various electronics on and sometimes lights and fans too! By doing a bedtime sweep, we’ve really made a difference!

  27. Oh I love my central AC too! I grew up in a house WITH NO a/c and it about did me in. Literally, I think I would die if I didn’t have air conditioning. My husband thinks I’m absurd about it.

  28. I love that you answered some questions about solar. I’ve always wondered! No one has A/C in coastal CA, where I live. It’s so weird. I will definitely consider this when I move back East though!

  29. Someone told me recently that solar panels do not save you money but I disagree with that. I know there is a big cost up front but I would think that over the years once the cost has been paid for it is a good investment.

    1. That’s awesome. I will say that by having our central air break down and realizing how long we could go without, it’s certainly only reserved for those ridiculously humid and hot day.

  30. These are great ideas! My husband is always trying to find ways to save on our electric bill. Especially in the summer when the air conditioner is on!

  31. Solar panels are awesome! We don’t have AC but we have stand/desk electric fans. And last summer they’re pretty much abused to the highest level. If they could just talk and complain, we’d be bummed!

    1. Wow, I am surprised you don’t have AC, only because I know it’s so much warmer there than here! Is it bad? Do people have AC, or are there great fans or breezes that take its place?

  32. I have been tempted several times to purchase an AC but thinking that it would cost me too much, I resorted to buying another electric fan. Summer heat was frequently stressful! But we have lots of trees at home which also helped. Now it’s rainy season over here. We sometimes don’t even need the fans anymore. 🙂

    1. Ah, that’s interesting to hear! We have a lot of trees too and they do help. They are terrible in the fall and winter, though! Ugh!!

  33. great tips. My hubby likes to keep our AC on “Arctic Blast” setting too….. and the rest of us are freezing. I’m more of a windows wide open to catch the summer breeze kinda girl. But when the humidity hits, I am thankful for that AC for sure. My husband is also the one who goes around the house opening all the curtains and blinds to let the bright light into the house, so he doesn’t have to turn on the lights. flooding the house with bright (warm!) sunlight… as he cranks the AC. um honey… did you think that one through? close the darn blinds!!!

    You know what else saves money? finding that faucet that the previous owners dry-walled over, and that has been slowly dripping for about 10 years, until said dry-wall actually softens from being water logged and falls off the wall. yeah, that can save a ton of money!! after you pay the plumber and buy new dry-wall I mean. *heavy sigh for 15 years*

  34. I need central air so bad 🙁 my house is super old and there might even be a chance 🙁 But I am determined to get it on day! When I visit all of my family members and pretty much every place in the world, I do appreciate central air. Great tips!

  35. I’m definitely a central air person. My in-laws are not, and I still remember how hot I was during my August baby shower for T. Is it bad that I still wonder if that heat contributed to the fact that she was born twelve hours later – and five weeks early? That said, we’ve used programmable thermostats since we moved in, and couldn’t do without our ugly ceiling fans. Another tip – get an energy audit. We did an energy audit a couple years ago and found we were leaking air right through our uninsulated attic (oops!) The guy also had lots of other great tips to save energy.

  36. Both colleges Elise and I visited yesterday were without central air in the dorms. they’re both in the mountains, but it still made her a bit squirmy about it.

    We had solar panels on our house when I was a kid, and I thought it was the coolest house on the block.

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