Now that it's officially summer, it's a good time to discuss how to minimize energy usage to maximize monetary savings and to reduce the environmental impact your electricity usage may have.
Switch to green power. One of the first and best things you can do for the environment is--if you can--switch to an electricity company that provides energy that comes from renewable resources. Wind and solar are the biggest in Texas, though in other areas you might have better luck finding things like hydroelectric power or even geothermal power. Switching to these kinds of energy first and foremost helps to reduce your overall carbon footprint and your money helps to influence the current infrastructure to shift away from fossil fuel use.
Install solar panels. In Houston, the months of June, July, and August are usually more on the sunny side, making it a fantastic time to use solar panels to generate additional energy.
Use a smart or programmable thermostat. Outside of setting your thermostat to be as high as is comfortable, you can also update your thermostat so that it can keep your house warmer while you're away. This helps reduce energy usage--just like keeping the lights off in rooms you're not using!
Utilize the wind chill effect. By using a ceiling fan, you can raise your air conditioner to run four degrees higher without a noticeable change in comfort. You can also use regular fans--just be sure to turn them off when you're not in the room. Fan cool people by using the windchill effect, not rooms.
Keep your air conditioning efficient. Be sure to schedule your air conditioning unit for regular maintenance and filter replacement. It's also a good idea to keep lamps or other heat sources away from your thermostat so that it will have an accurate reading of the temperature in your home. Don't forget to make sure that your furniture isn't blocking any air conditioning registers and to clean them regularly to avoid dust buildup.
Check for cracks and holes in your home. Sealing up any cracks or holes and adding plastic covers to your electrical plugs don't just help to keep your home warm in winter--they also help to keep your home cool in summer!
Check out the US Department of Energy's website to learn more about how you can save money and energy during the heat of the summer!