During steamy summer days, NEVER keep your home too hot because you’re worried about the electric bill. Remember, energy efficiency has cut Illinois utility bills by $4 billion since 2008. There are ways to stay cool and safe without breaking the bank.
- Be safe. If you’re at home, using a ceiling fan can allow you to raise your thermostat 4 degrees without reducing comfort. Just be smart about it—don’t raise the temperature to an unsafe level. Many utilities recommend setting your thermostat at 74-78 degrees when you’re at home. Run the ceiling fan counter-clockwise, from your position looking up at it, to create a downdraft, and make sure to turn off your fan when you leave the room. (Fans cool people, not rooms.)
- Avoid hot tasks. Delay heat-producing tasks, such as dish-washing, baking, or laundry, until the cooler night or early morning hours. Consider grilling out, to keep the kitchen from overheating and your air conditioner from over-working. If grilling isn’t for you, make meals in the microwave.
- Use LEDs light bulbs. They last 10-25 times longer, save you $30-$80 over their lifetime, and don’t heat up your home.
- Shut it off. Turn off and unplug extra appliances that can produce more heat and make your home hotter (TV, computers, laptops, and gadgets like your phone charger). The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that phantom load or vampire power costs households $100 per year. For computers and entertainment systems a smart power strip can be helpful. These strips, which cost about $20-$40, shut down products that go into standby mode. They can save you 5-10 percent a year.
- Give your AC a break. Prevent hot air from seeping in by sealing the gaps around windows and doors. Shut blinds or shades during the daytime hours to prevent the sun from cooking your home and your air conditioner from working harder to cool it.
- Clean filters. Clean your air conditioning unit’s filter at least once every three months. It’s an easy way to improve the unit’s performance and to save energy.
- Close doors. If your air conditioner is running, make sure to close doors to rooms you don’t use often. The smaller the space to cool, the less work it takes for your system to cool it down.
- Open windows. If it gets cool in the evening hours, consider opening a window to let the breeze in. Seal up the house again in the morning.
- Drink plenty of water. Sip about four to eight glasses of fluids a day, but avoid alcohol and caffeine, which promote dehydration.
- Take the edge off. During intense heat, make sure to find an air-conditioned space (see the next tip), and take simple actions to get through your hottest moments. For temporary relief, use a spray bottle filled with cool water to apply a refreshing mist on your face. Soak your feet in cool water. Place ice cubes, wrapped in a wet fabric, on your “pulse points,” where the blood vessels are close to the skin: wrists, neck, the insides of your elbows, the tops of your feet and the inside of the ankles.
- Be a good neighbor. Make sure you and your neighbors have a safe and cool place to stay during hot weather. Illinois has free cooling centers. If those aren’t open, movie theaters, shopping malls, public libraries and the homes of friends and family can be cool places of refuge.
- Bonus Tip: Consider a smart thermostat. They allow you to adjust your temperature remotely, they learn your home habits to automatically adjust to the optimal temperature for energy savings and personal comfort and can cut your costs by up to 20% a year. And you can get a $100 rebate thanks to energy efficiency programs that CUB has fought for.
For more information about tips and programs to make your home more efficient, visit our Clean Energy page.