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 “Roughly 40% of heat gain in the summer happens through our windows, so keep blinds closed.”

As the Energy Advisor with Paulding Putnam Electric, you can imagine I get a lot of energy related questions ranging from how to choose between different renewable energy options, energy auditing, how to weatherize your home for improved efficiency, lowering utility costs, or simply explaining where you want to start making your home more energy efficient. Truth be told, making your home more energy efficient is complicated and most people don’t know where to even start, and these are some of the ways I help our members.

In this article, I want to bring us back to the basics, and simplify how we use energy in our homes, and how to use less of it during the summer cooling months.

Without getting into a lot of detail, most homes have what we call in the electric utility industry two basic “electric loads”. The two loads are “base load” & “weather load”. Generally, the two loads make up 100% of your electric bill, roughly 50% each, assuming you are electrically heating and cooling your home. 50% base load and 50% weather load. What is base load?  Basically, it is everything in your home that draws electricity from our power grid that has no bearing on the weather outside. In other words, kitchen appliances, entertainment (tv’s, DVR’s, smart devices, streaming devices, radios), lighting, water heating, these things will be used just about every day of the year whether it is 0 degrees or 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and this is the “base” or essentially the starting point of your electric use every day of the year. Usually during the Spring and Fall months, you are not heating or cooling, which means generally your electric bills are lower…perhaps 50% lower?

What is “weather load”? It is the energy being used to heat & cool your home, and of course that load has everything to do with the weather outside, and it accounts for, you guessed it, 50% of your electric use (also referred to as the electric “driver” of your electric use), and this time of the year it’s safe to say you can add roughly 50% more energy use to your electric bill, makes perfect sense, right?

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, at this point you probably want to know how you can reduce your energy costs during the summer months, well as I said in the beginning of the article, I want to bring it back to the basics. So, the single most effective way to reduce your energy costs during the summer months, is to simply turn off your Air-Conditioning system! Yes, I said it, simply keeping your Air-Conditioning off will reduce your energy costs 40-50% during the summer months. Think about it, we don’t really need Air-Conditioning to survive, we simply have become so spoiled with it, so much so that the thought of not having it, makes us break out into a deep sweat. Believe me, I understand it’s a requirement to have the air-conditioning on at my house.

For those of you that are making the life-style choice of Air-Conditioning, and you want some tips on how to maximize the efficiency of your Air-Conditioner, simply try to keep as much heat out of your house as possible. What do I mean by that? Keep window coverings closed, windows shut and latched. Roughly 40% of heat gain in the summer happens through our windows, so keep blinds closed. Make sure supply/return vents are clear and not being obstructed by foreign objects like furniture. Make sure air filters are clean and not obstructing air-flow. Try not to bake/cook during the peak heat of the day, ovens/stoves are an Air-Conditioner’s nightmare. Try using the microwave instead.

For those of you that do not have an Air Conditioner, and you would like to reduce your energy costs, focus on using less “base load” things, like kitchen appliances, entertainment (tv’s, DVR’s, smart devices, streaming devices, radios), lighting, water heating.

I hope I could shed some light on how you use energy at your home, and who knows, maybe even use less power.

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