How to lower your energy bills in extreme heat

How to lower your energy bills in extreme heat

Every summer, Oregonians see more frequent and extreme heat waves with temperatures often surpassing 100 degrees. This comes as many people are facing increasing energy costs, meaning bills could spike as they work to keep their homes cool.

Here are several low or no-cost, easy things you can do now to help keep your home cool during the extreme heat and lower your energy bills.  

  • Use your windows strategically: Less light means less heat. Close windows, blinds, shades and curtains to keep heat outside. Light-colored window coverings also help reflect heat away. Close windows and window coverings in hot weather during the day to keep hot air out and open windows at night or early morning to let cool air in. As a longer-term strategy, consider planting trees or tall shrubs to filter sunlight before it enters your home.
  • Check the fan’s direction: A ceiling fan can help circulate cool air from your air conditioning. If you buy a new ceiling fan, choose an ENERGY STAR® qualified ceiling fan/light combination unit model and run it to spin counterclockwise, which pushes air down and creates a cool breeze.
  • Keep hot air out and cool air in: Sealing air leaks and insulating your home can reduce cooling and heating costs. Add caulk or weatherstripping around drafty doors and windows and seal holes or cracks hidden in attics, basements and crawlspaces with caulk, spray foam or weatherstripping. Leaks make insulation less effective. So, if you’re adding insulation, seal air leaks first.
  • Power down heat-generating devices: Home appliances, electronics and incandescent light bulbs create heat when on. Power down and consider upgrading to LED lights, which operate more efficiently and don’t give off excess heat. Skip the oven and use the microwave, stovetop or grill outside, if possible.
  • Make the most of air conditioning: If you have an air conditioner, set it (or a heat pump thermostat) a few degrees higher than normal. Check the system air filter regularly and change it when it looks dirty. A dirty filter makes the system work less efficiently and reduces airflow. Make sure all vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet floors, walls and ceilings.

See more energy-saving tips here: Cooling tips to beat the heat

Help with making bigger changes to stay cool

Along with these tips, there is also larger financial support to help make some bigger changes at home that could significantly lower your energy bills during the hot summer months and year-round. 

Energy Trust offers cash incentives to help lower the cost of things like adding insulation or installing a new heating and cooling system, two upgrades that could significantly help during a heat wave.   

That’s in addition to new federal tax credits that can be combined with these incentives. For example, with both incentives and tax credits, you can now save thousands of dollars on the installation of an energy-efficient heat pump (which both heats and cools your home), adding new windows or even installing solar panels.

For more information, see How to combine new home energy tax credits with Energy Trust incentives.