Take Charge of Your Crazy Summer Electric Bill

By on August 15, 2013

Is your electric bill nearly as much as your mortgage or rent?  If so, you’ve probably tried some of the more popular ways to save on energy consumption.  But, maybe there could be some more tips you’ve not thought of.

We’re going to roll up our sleeves and dig a little deeper to uncover some gems that could save you a bundle every month in the summer time.  

First, every season have a professional heating and cooling company service your central air conditioning unit.  Don’t take a chance here.  Getting a pro to check it out is a lot cheaper than a summer filled with high bills.  If you have window air conditioners, be sure those are cleaned and caulk any obvious air leaks around the unit.

More Air Flow, Less Cooling

Next, try raising your thermostat to 78 degrees and then bring out the fans.  Ceiling fans are great, but don’t forget the oscillating floor fans too.  Oh, and make sure your ceiling fans are set to blow air down in the summer.  If you stand under it you should feel a shower of air, not an updraft.

When you’re not at home turn the temp up to 85. Clean your AC filter at least monthly.  A dirty filter is a clogged filter and that can make your AC less efficient.

Room by room

Probably the single biggest gem we have had with our cooling and heating bills is to partially close off all registers in rooms that are seldom used.  And keep the doors to those rooms closed!  Not only does this reduce the electric bill, it lets us keep certain rooms a lot cooler a lot faster because the air pressure in the ducts is higher when there aren’t as many vents to blow through.

Hot spots in the house

If your central air unit is running excessively even after it’s been serviced and the filter cleaned, it could be due to a hot room. If your house has a certain room that always seems to be the hotest place in the home, it might be a candidate for a small window air conditioner.  Window units are rated for the square feet they can effectively cool so buy according to the size of the room.    Adding a window unit to help out could easily save you the cost of the unit in electric bill savings, plus make the room usable again during the summer.

Tips for the attic

Insulate your attic or install an attic fan or both.  Reducing your attic temperature by 10 degrees can save up to 10 percent on your electric bill and that’s a fact.

Also, check the duct work in the attic for leaks. Older homes are especially vulnerable to this.  Have it checked and fixed at the start of the season when your A/C is serviced.


If you have windows that are seldom opened, seal them up with the winter time plastic kits.  Yes, the winter time kits work just as well to keep hot air out in the summer as they do to keep cold air out in the winter.  There are some windows in our house that remain sealed up year round.  Apply the same logic to entry doors.  If a door is leaking air, fix it or have it fixed.  In a pinch, use a painter’s plastic drop cloth over the door from top to bottom.  I’ve done it and it works. Home improvement centers carry clear plastic drop cloths with masking tape already attached at the top.  Just unroll, unfold, and stick on.  It doesn’t look very sightly, but if it keeps a leaky door a little less leaky, why not do it.  Especially for doors that are not used very much.

While we’re talking windows, use rubber backed curtains or other total light blocking window treatments.  Better yet, apply window film to reflect heat and rays.

If you have a really hot window due to direct sun and want to test if a window film will cool it down without having to buy and apply it first, you can fashion a reflector by using spray glue to attach aluminum foil to a big piece of cardboard trimmed a few inches wider than the window.  Once the glue has completely dried attach the reflector flush against the window trim either with push pins or double sided tape.  If it makes a big difference over the course of a day then it’s time for some window film.

Cook less

Baking and stove top cooking create heat.  A lot of heat.  Be smart with your cooking and do less of it or at least for shorter periods.  Grill out if you can stand the heat outside (or grill at night) and always prepare enough to have leftovers that can be refrigerated and later reheated in the microwave.  

Fill up dish washers

In our home we use the dishwasher as a dirty dish collector because it keeps the sinks and counter tops free of clutter.  Only when the dishwasher gets two thirds full or more do we run a cycle.  Any less and you’re wasting water and electricity, not to mention the heat they generate.  

Washer and Dryer

We have become spoiled to clothes dryers in the last couple of decades.  A few generations ago, however, clothes lines were everywhere.  And you know what?  The clothes usually smelled fresher than with any dryer sheet!  You can still buy clothes lines kits for cheap at most stores that have a hardware section.  Don’t knock it ’til you try it.  Using the hot sun to dry clothes is not only more efficient, but will give you fresher smelling clothes, towels, and sheets.

Whenever possible, wash a full load of clothes.  Not only is it more efficient and wastes less water, but it gets the laundry done quicker (fewer loads.)

Water Heater

Most traditional water heaters have two heating elements in them.  One near the top and one near the bottom.  Be sure they both match.  Otherwise, you’re wasting energy.  Also, the lower the temperature you can get away with the better.  My father was an electrician and found that the majority of homeowners kept their water heater temperature set too high.  If the water is hot enough to literally give you a burn, it’s too hot.  We keep ours at about 138 degrees year round.

Chest freezers

If you have a standalone freezer, check the temperature setting. It’s probably set to a lower temperature than is really needed.  The higher it is, the more it runs which uses more electricity, but worse, it generates heat.  If the freezer is in an interior room as opposed to a garage or porch, it’s causing your AC to run more.  Read the manual for the freezer and adjust it to the recommended setting.  Wait several days, check the contents, then try a warmer setting.  You’ll know when you’ve passed the sweet spot because items will start to thaw a little. If you don’t have the manual Google the make and model number.  Most appliance manuals are available on the web.

Swimming Pool Pumps

If you have a swimming pool that has one or more pumps that run on automatic, this could easily be contributing to your high electric bill.  Have your pool company do a system check for leaks or bad pump seals.  Better yet, if your pool is several years old, ask the pool guy if there are more efficient pumps that you could upgrade to.  

Roof color

The vast majority of homes in America have dark roofs.  Dark colors absorb and trap heat.  If you have the budget or if it’s time to replace the roof anyway, go with a lighter color.  Even better, go with a metal roof.

House color

Houses painted a dark color trap up to 20 percent more heat.  Consider painting the outside of your home a lighter color.  If you don’t like painting, consider installing vinyl or aluminum siding in a light color.  I’ve even known people with log houses to cover them in vinyl siding – not only for the energy savings, but because log homes require frequent wood treatments which gets expensive and laborious.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to incorporate some or most of these ideas over the course of a year or two and be on the path to a lower monthly utility bill.  Do you have any tips that aren’t listed here that you’ve tried?  Tell us about it by leaving a comment below or visit our Facebook page and leave a comment there.

About Mr. Happy Little Shopper

Mr. Happy Little Shopper (aka Mark Conger) is a Mississippi home grown and self taught computer nut and internet marketer. He's addicted to Starbucks, has a gold Starbucks card to prove it and is married to the greatest woman in the world, Mrs. Happy Little Shopper. For more information check out his LinkedIn profile.