Groceries, gas, housing, and entertainment costs have all risen quickly this year, making them less affordable for families this summer. According to CBC, “the cost of living is going up at its fastest pace in decades in both Canada and the U.S.,” as Statistics Canada reported inflation rates are at their highest since 1991.
With summer’s warmer temperatures, households will be using air conditioning and fans to keep cool, but higher energy use means bigger energy bills. Here are a few tips to help you save on your summer cooling bills.
1) Look for ENERGY STAR® labelled products.
When deciding on replacing or upgrading your home appliances with new products, consider choosing ENERGY STAR® certified products to help you save energy. For example, a homeowner with ENERGY STAR® certified products uses around 35% less energy and saves more than 8,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually. If you have been using your equipment for too long, it becomes less energy efficient and uses much more energy than it needs to.
ecobee smart thermostats, like the new ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium, are also ENERGY STAR®-certified and can help you save up to 26%* on your annual heating and cooling bills. ecobee knows when you’re home or away and, based on your Comfort Settings, will decrease cooling when you’re away from home and precool based on your Schedule to ensure you’re comfortable when you get home.
ecobee also offers certified refurbished thermostats, which are backed by a 3-year warranty and are less expensive than purchasing a brand-new device. With the ability to control your smart devices from a smartphone, tablet, or Apple Watch, you can save energy even when you’re on the go.
2) Seal in and insulate your home.
When homes have proper air sealing and insulation, your home will stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. On average, homeowners save around 10% on energy by sealing air leaks and adding insulation.
To help protect cool air from leaking, the first thing you should do is thoroughly check your home to find out whether it has proper air sealing and insulation. You can do this through a couple of simple ways such as doing it yourself, hiring a professional to inspect your home, or signing up for an energy audit with your energy supplier or local contractor. In most cases, when air travels out of your home, it is through doors and windows with spotty seals, poorly insulated attics, or openings along the outer walls.
You will want to air seal any window trims, doors, vents, furnace flues, and any other fixtures that penetrate the “opening” of your home with expanding foam. After air sealing, you’ll need to seal in on ductwork: this captures the air conditioning meant to keep the cool air inside and improves your indoor air quality.
Lastly, you’ll need to insulate your attic space if you have one. Proper attic insulation helps regulate your home’s temperature and prevents any cool air from leaking out. Determining the best material for preventing heat loss will depend on the ENERGY STAR®-recommended “R-value” for your geographical location, which determines its effectiveness. According to CNET, “the higher the R-value, the better.”
3) Track your energy consumption.
A good way to reduce overspending on energy is by proactively monitoring your energy consumption. As seasons transition between the seasons, energy usage fluctuates depending on factors such as household size, any added appliances or devices, and phantom power, which is the electricity generated even if devices are turned off. For instance, if you have kitchen appliances at home that are plugged in while not in use, they will continue to use electricity and can account for up to 12% of your utility bill.
Specifically for summer, the tendency to host barbecues, gatherings, and spending time with friends and family hikes. Therefore, the use of home electronics and electricity increases as well.
With ecobee’s Home IQ, you can improve your home’s energy efficiency through an ecobee thermostat. This insightful tool allows you to look at your energy consumption, community comparisons, and the runtime report showing the amount of dollars saved by your smart thermostat each month. A useful feature of Home IQ is the system monitor, that is a set of charts showcasing your home’s heating and cooling patterns. For example, when temperatures change from hot to cold, you can download months of data to see how your home’s heating and cooling patterns change, which will be helpful insight in determining ways to improve your home efficiency.
In addition, ecobee SmartOwners with SmartSensor is a great tool used to showcase which rooms were occupied, the duration and temperature, and the average home temperature. For instance, when having multiple people in and out of the house, it serves as a useful graph to look at which rooms may be most populated or frequently visited; hence, you can determine the appropriate temperatures to configure your house.
4) Save energy and get rewarded for it.
Two ways to reduce energy use in the summer are enabling Time-of-Use (TOU) and rebates. In areas with TOU rates, electricity prices peak at different times, and understanding when electricity is less expensive and cleaner can help you lower your utility bill.
ecobee smart thermostats come with an eco+ feature for Time of Use that, when enabled in participating regions, can intelligently precool your home when electricity is less expensive to keep you comfortable while keeping costs down.
Rebates are another way to keep cool without having to pay a premium for upgrading your smart thermostat. Based on your utility provider, many of our energy partners offer instant rebates and promotions to help lower the cost of a qualifying ecobee thermostat. It is a quick and simple process: by entering your ZIP or Postal Code in our rebate finder search bar, we will tell you the best deals and savings based on your local area. ecobee also offers income-qualified (IQ) programs to help low-income communities and households access smart home products, ensuring energy equity for all.
To help mitigate the recent increase in costs and combat energy poverty, ecobee recently partnered with California-based utilities, like PG&E, to distribute thousands of ecobee thermostats to low-to-moderate income households through our IQ program.
As the standard cost of living rises with inflation, you can conserve energy and lower your bills this summer with a few of these easy tips. To learn more about saving money and conserving energy this summer, check out our posts Five Simple Ways to Save Money This Summer and How to Conserve More Energy This Summer.
* Compared to a hold of 72°F/22°C.
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