Last week, the New York metropolitan area experiences a heat wave with temperatures above 100°F for several days. The hazy, hot, and humid weather kept people in the air-conditioned indoors as much as possible. Con Edison, the power company that provides electricity to New York City, called customers asking them to preserve energy by turning off their air conditioners and other appliances to reduce the chance of blackouts or other power interruptions.
Naturally, some residents took this as a sign of impending blackouts and acted in the opposite direction of the request, ensuring their dishes were clean, laundry finished, and as cool as possible just in case the power went out.
The air conditioner is the single biggest factor in summer power bills. You can save hundreds of dollars during the hottest months by modifying your behavior.
Use a small fan to keep yourself cool. Central air conditioning works in every room, but any one person can only occupy one room at any one time. A portable fan keeps the cooler, moving air with you rather than wasting energy cooling empty rooms.
Turn off the lights. Light bulbs generate heat, so keep them off or replace high-wattage bulbs with energy efficient lights. Refrain from using the stove or oven. The microwave isn’t a bad choice but consider grilling outside if you can.
Use someone else’s electricity. I don’t mean steal from your neighbors. Spend some time in a library or a movie theater, two locations often air conditioned.
For several more suggestions, check out a recent discussion on the Consumerism Commentary Podcast about saving money during the summer. Share your summer money saving tips here.
Photo: Joe Marinaro
Updated December 22, 2011 and originally published July 13, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.