Laura Henson, member service representative
Q: It’s still sweltering outside. What can I do to stay comfortable and save money on my electric bill?
A: You’ve probably already heard the most common ways to reduce power use in summer – keep your thermostat at 78 degrees when you’re home, use ceiling fans, pull shades down to block the sun’s heat, seal cracks and gaps around windows, doors and siding. But here are a few ideas that you may not have heard before. They are free or low cost, and can also make a difference in your power use.
• Check the rating of your AC filter. Believe it or not, a higher number isn’t always better. The minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ranges from 1-12. A higher number means better filtration, but it also requires more energy to pull air through, resulting in a bigger bill. Unless you need a higher-number filter, consider one rated between 6 and 8.
• Use your dishwasher but skip the dry cycle. Also, try to run a full load. Washing dishes by hand doesn't necessarily mean you will use less water.
• Turn on your bathroom fan while showering or taking a bath to remove heat and humidity.
• Buy trellises and vines to shade your eastern- and western-facing windows. There is a great example of this at our Eco Home in Brenham. Metal trellises have lovely jasmine vines growing up and over them that shade the windows.
• An alternative to trellises are solar control films on your windows and glass doors. These films reflect the sun’s rays yet still allow light to come through. They also reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation and reduce glare. With a careful, patient hand, you can install them in a weekend (or, if you lack confidence, hire a professional to do the job.)
— Laura Henson, member service representative
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