What’s Running Up Your Bill

We all want to find ways to reduce our power bill when it’s warm in Texas­—which is … always, right? Not only is it important for our household budget, it’s also reasonable to reduce the demand on the power grid where we can. 

Pedernales Electric Cooperative shared some great information and suggests, if we do nothing else, we should focus on these items for maximum impact.

  • Test your HVAC unit (55% of your monthly cost) with a digital thermometer, and schedule a tune-up if needed.
  • Check your HVAC air filters monthly, and replace them when needed. Clogged filters force the system to work harder to move air. 
  • Bump the thermostat 3-5° closer to the outdoor temperature when you leave the home for long periods.
  • Install a timer on your water heater (20% of your monthly cost) that shuts off the unit during times you don’t need hot water. 
  • Install a timer on pool pumps so they run the minimum amount of time needed to maintain water quality. Also set them to run in early morning or overnight; shut off from 4pm-6pm.

Alerts & Brownouts

Alerts are voluntary requests by the power company to conserve energy. Brown-outs are intentional or consequential drops in voltage in an electrical power supply system; intentional brownouts provide load reduction in an emergency. Both usually occur happen in the late afternoon when temperatures are the hottest. 

Now that we’ve covered some of the obvious tips, there are plenty of opportunities to slow down those spinning wheels on your meter; every little bit helps. 

  • For central air, leave interior doors open to help the HVAC balance the temperature throughout the home. For a window or portable unit, keep the door of the room it’s in closed.
  •   Use box and ceiling fans to feel 4 to 6 degrees cooler, BUT, turn them off when leaving the room; fans cool people, not spaces.
  • Run your dishwasher and washing machine at the same time; eliminating the need for your water heater to heat up twice. 
  • Avoid using large appliances such as ovens and washing machines during peak usage hours; 3-7pm. Many dishwashers have a time-delay setting. 
  • Run your dryers at night for off-peak rates, or do back-to-back loads to take advantage of residual heat. 
  • Wash clothes in cold water. Use hot water only when necessary, try to wash only full loads, and always use a cold-water rinse. 
  • Unplug “vampire” devices; e.g., laptops, TVs, coffee makers, and toasters drain energy even when Off. 
  • Keep lamps and other hot items; TVs, computers, and irons away from the thermostat. Localized heat will make the AC think the room is warmer than it is.

DIY AIR CONDITIONER

If you have that one room that just never cools down, or you want to experiment to see how low you can get your power bill, get yourself a bucket!

Start with a five-gallon bucket with a tight-fitting lid. Cut holes around the top 1/3; you can fix PVC pipes to the holes, or cover holes on the inside with an absorbent material. 

Cut a hole in the lid, just large enough to fit a small fan. 

Fill the bucket with ice blocks and water, and turn the fan on HIGH to push the cold air through the holes or pipes. (If you’re not the DIY type, you can buy a bucket from OffGridLiving for $120.) 

Just enough *cool* for your personal space, doesn’t block a window, and uses a lot less electricity. 

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