Hot Tips for Saving Energy in the Dog Days of Summer

July 11, 2018

With the dog days of summer now upon us, many of us are looking to avoid the heat. While some of us will switch on our air conditioners to cool off inside, others will fire up pool pumps to catch some relief with a backyard swim. Finding comfort with the heat and humidity can require a lot of energy! Fortunately, the Sponsors of Mass Save® – Cape Light Compact, Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil—have some great tips for managing your energy consumption during these warmer months. Let’s take a look at some of the key factors that can drive up summer energy loads and steps you can take to mitigate this uptick.

Start with Your Appliances
Air conditioners are undeniably the key driver of higher energy use during the summer. In fact, it’s because of the increase in air conditioning that the summer months bring about the greatest demand for electricity in New England. According to a 2015 Energy Information Administration (EIA) study, around 75% of households in New England use air conditioning, with 50% using stand-alone units, as opposed to central air. If you’re in the majority and use window units, it’s important to make sure that your unit is as energy-efficient as possible, since it will be running often. When shopping for a new unit, keep an eye out for the blue ENERGY STAR® label. ENERGY STAR certified room air conditioners use 10% less energy than non-certified models: newer models not only have more efficient technology, but also have improved design features that reduce air leaks, a major cause of energy waste for this appliance.  If you make your purchase this year, you can save even more by taking advantage of this $40 rebate, brought to you by the Sponsors of Mass Save.

Dehumidifiers are another popular summer appliance that drive up energy use, especially as the humidity sets in. In New England, nearly 1 out of every 3 households uses a dehumidifier. Although they are built to last, older models use much more energy than today’s dehumidifiers. That means you’re sure to see a return on investment by upgrading to a newer unit. ENERGY STAR certified models use 28% less energy than comparable non-certified models: in dollar signs, that’s over $300 in energy costs avoided across the lifetime of a certified unit! Once again, you can add even more savings by submitting a $30 rebate after purchasing a new ENERGY STAR certified dehumidifier.

There’s a third summer appliance that piles up summer energy loads: pool pumps.  For those of us with pools, we may not think of our backyard oasis as a reason for higher energy consumption; however, pool pumps have the potential of being the second highest source of home energy use! In fact, among U.S. homes using pool pumps, this device was found to account for 8% of annual electricity use. The good news is that by switching to an ENERGY STAR certified pool pump, you could cut this energy use substantially, not to mention save thousands of dollars over the pump’s lifetime. In fact, ENERGY STAR certified pool pumps use up to 70% less energy than conventional pool pumps, meaning you could save over $350 a year in energy costs. Check out our list of participating dealers offering special discounts on ENERGY STAR certified pool pumps, made possible by the Sponsors of Mass Save.

Switch Up Your Behavior 
While seasonal appliances are the key drivers for higher summer energy loads, don’t discount the smaller efforts when it comes to energy efficiency. If you don’t have the wiggle room to upgrade to new appliances, here are some simple, inexpensive changes you can make to shave your summer energy use. 

Since we’re currently graced with longer hours of daylight, try to keep the lights off at home until they’re necessary. If you haven’t updated your lighting to LEDs, that is a savings opportunity that doesn’t require much expense or labor. Using 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs, ENERGY STAR certified LEDs also produce less heat, which can also help keep your home cooler. You can learn more about the advantages of LEDs and how these bulbs can meet all your lighting needs – from brightening your outdoor decks for BBQs to cozying up your living room during rainy summer nights – by checking out our interactive eBook.

Believe it or not, unplugging your appliances is another simple way to save! Many appliances use energy even when not actively in use, a situation referred to as “standby power loss” or “vampire draw”. This phenomenon often results from features like clocks or indicator lights that continue to run, even when a device is turned off. As we’re rushing around picking up kids from camp, gearing up for a day at the beach, or packing our luggage for a summer getaway, it can be difficult to remember to always unplug or turn off your electronics. To make it easier, consider purchasing a tier 1 or tier 2 advanced power strip. These products are excellent for avoiding standby power loss by shutting off power to devices that aren’t in use. Learn more about how they work by checking out these four ways an advanced power strip can deliver energy savings, cost reductions, and convenience to your home.

While it’s difficult to avoid a climb in energy use during the summer months, there are plenty of opportunities to save energy while remaining cool and comfortable, and not overextending your budget. Start with the tips above, and then explore for even more ideas on opportunities to save at your home – not just during this summer, but throughout the year!

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