Summer is here! And while it is exciting to think about all the beach escapades, the backyard barbecue, and the cute clothes, the house utilities isn’t really something very exciting to ponder on. Most people might not even realize it’s a high-time for power bill surges! The big Q is, how to save on utilities during summer? Here are 10 effective ways we practice not only during summer but all year-round (thank you, Philippine climate! LOL):
#1 Unplug unused appliances or devices
Turning off those computers, televisions, air conditioners, etc. is not enough as it can still drain power even when off. To really save on power, UNPLUG those devices. If you think that requires too much work, or if your house’s sockets are placed well behind some of your furniture, get yourself a smart power strip. These are easily available in supermarkets, hardware stores, and even on leading drugstores.
#2 Block the sun from entering your home
Sun exposure can heat up your home all the more during summer when the sun is at its harshest. Prevent it from doing so by using window blinds or drapes! These window treatments are not only pretty to look at but are also effective in reducing heat gain and in turn helps save energy. Because the “hotter” the house, the more energy it needs for the air conditioner to reach that certain coolness level inside. Experts say blinds can reduce heat gain by up to 45% and drapes by 33%.
#3 Place your thermostat on the right wall
Not all Philippine household bears a thermostat but in case you’re curious, these thermostats I’m talking about are helpful devices that regulate the temperature inside your home. It also has a feature that lets you automatically lower the temperature inside your house while you are asleep or away, or keep the temperature at a specific range on specific times.
VERY IMPORTANT THING TO UNDERSTAND: Thermostats control the temperature inside your home but not the outside (obviously). To keep your home’s temperature regulated, the thermostat will “battle” with the outside temperature and so you must be aware of how hot or how cold it is outside. The bigger the difference is (outside temperature vs desired indoor temperature), the harder your cooling or heating devices will work and the harder these work, the more power it consumes. That’s also the reason why it is advisable to start with a “hotter” temperature upon turning the air conditioner on. I’ll just say hotter because some follows the Celsius scale and others follow Fahrenheit. But to put it simply, start with 25°C or 77°F or go fan-low cool-high cool, so the AC won’t “work so hard so suddenly”. Example, current room temperature is 38°C and you’d like to cool it down to 21°C. When you turn on the AC, don’t put it on 21 right away. Start with the “hottest” temperature available, which is usually 25°C. After a few minutes, you can now adjust it to your desired temperature. Same goes with fan-low cool-high cool. Always start “down the ladder.” Many say it is more advisable to just maintain temperature at 25°C if you really want to save. We actually follow that “rule”, especially because it works very well here in the Philippines. But ultimately, it will really depend on the outside temperature and the humidity. Just keep the difference between those factors and your desired temperature little so it will be more energy efficient.
One technique a friend shared to me is that if you have a thermostat at home, place the thermostat in the “right wall”. Ideally, your thermostat should be placed toward the center of your home away from direct sunlight, windows, doors and air vents. Here’s a good read on where best to place your thermostat: Thermostat placement.
#4 Clean your air conditioner unit
A clean air conditioner is an efficiently functioning one. If its filters and other parts are dirty and/or filled with debris, it could clog the vents and obstruct normal airflow. This results in more energy consumption because the air conditioner will have to work harder. According to experts, having a clean air conditioner reduces consumption by about 5- to 10 percent. That’s a pretty good saving. Besides, if you don’t take heed of your AC’s maintenance, you might end up with a busted one and may have to buy a new unit instead. Totally not a practical move.
#5 Use an electric fan
Did you know that electric fans can cool down a room by approximately 4 degrees? Personally, we use both: an air conditioner with an electric fan. This way, we get to keep the AC at 25°C (unless there’s some sort of heat wave and we really can’t take it). Air conditioner at 25°C (or low cool) + electric fan saves more energy than air conditioner at full blast. Also, you don’t have to use the air conditioner 24/7 during summer! If climate is tolerable, just use the fan and unplug that AC.
#6 Don’t forget about natural ventilation
I know summers can get extremely humid but if you live in an area where nights are still cold (or at least not THAT hot), just open some windows and enjoy the fresh breeze.
#7 Inspect your home’s insulation
As Pinoys would usually joke about, “Isara mo ang pinto at baka lumabas ang air con!” which is loosely translated to “Close the door so the AC won’t go outside!” (Hahaha! It’s probably not funny if you’re not Pinoy 😂) Anyway, the message is true. Any opening (or even crack) can result to air leakage which makes it harder to ventilate the room properly and maximize the air conditioner’s functionality.
Notice why some air conditioners are 1HP, 2HP, 0.5HP, and so on? This is because the size of the room that needs to be ventilated determines the cooling capacity needed. For example, a 1HP air conditioner is ideal for a 13- to 17-sqm room, approximately. If you use it on a larger room, it will use a much larger energy to cover the entire room. More energy = higher electric bill.
So aside from closing doors, check your house for other openings or cracks. Caulk is usually used to fill these spaces. Or talk to an expert on how to rectify the problem, if any.
#8 Hang wet clothes outside
Take advantage of the summer heat! Instead of using dryers or spinners, which are very high in energy consumption, hang your laundry outside! Sun drying actually has benefits other than saving money: First, your clothes won’t shrink. Second, the sun can disinfect your clothes (given you don’t live in a very polluted neighborhood). And of course, sun, they say, is a “natural sanitizer” which will make your clothes smell fresher.
#9 Invest on a power saver
Many people call this a hoax or a scam. In fact, it was reported in the local news here in the Philippines a couple of years ago and they were saying this does not work! They say it only results in higher energy consumption. But no, I can swear by its power-saving magic. We used to live in a 28-sqm one bedroom condo in QC and our electric bill can soar up to P4,500 a month despite us being always out to work! When we learned I was pregnant, my husband asked me to stop working as I was bleeding/spotting for 6 months. Several weeks later, my mom gave us a power saver. She said she tried it at home and was really able to save on utilities. So I tried it. Being always at home and pregnant, I used the AC a lot. I was also on the internet almost 24/7, I watched TV and movies on the laptop, and I cooked a lot (when we were working we just ate out often). On our first month (without the power saver), our bill was at P4,800+ if I remember it correctly. The next month, with the power saver, our bill was down to P2,200! Then it regularly stayed between P1,500 and P2,500 every month after that!!!
Two years later, we moved to a larger one-bedroom unit (40 sqm). We used 2 power savers and our electric bill’s still between P1,500 and P2,500. There are summer months that we went over P2,500 but never over P3,200. Now, we are in a much bigger place with 3 bedrooms, a walk-in closet, a laundry room, a full-sized kitchen, etc. We still use the same power savers and so far, our electric bills are only at P1,800 to P2,400 per month.
So yes, power savers work wonders! I can really attest to that… Maybe there are “fake power savers” which might not work the way they’re supposed to so if you’re going to purchasing one, I suggest you get it from reliable shops. We got ours from Ace Hardware. This is how they look:
How a power saver works? I’m not very knowledgeable on these things but years ago, I asked my father (he’s an engineer) about it and he explained it to me. I just forgot! Hahaha! Something about it being a capacitor. So if you’re curious, just look it up because I don’t want to say the wrong things. Hihihi!
#10 Go out
Enjoy the summer sun! Go to the beach, visit the park, go on a jogging spree with your friends, have a barbecue at your backyard — your options are limitless! Besides, it’s about time to flaunt that body you’ve probably been working on over Spring, right? 😉
So that’s it, Momma! I hope this post is useful to you. May our summers be fun and still within budget! Hahaha #adultingisreal4