Understanding Energy Demand Will Save You Money on Electric Bills

July 9, 2018

how to lower electric bill

Wondering how to lower your electric bills and still beat the summer heat? Lozier has energy saving air conditioners available and plenty of tips that will help homeowners save money. Check out the best ways to conserve energy around your home and lower your electric expenses.

Energy Terms Homeowners Need to Know

First, let’s go over some HVAC and energy lingo that sometimes confuses consumers about what they’re paying for. A few common terms you’ll probably see on your next electric bill:

Kilowatt-hour (kWh): A kilowatt-hour is the amount of work performed or energy used in one hour of time. This is the metric used to bill your monthly electricity charge or energy consumption.

Kilowat (kW): A kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts and is defined as the energy consumption of 1,000 joules per second. Your peak load demand is charged per “peak” kW to bill your monthly electricity charge.

Peak Demand: Utility companies find a 15- or 30-minute window of time with the highest power usage during peak hours. The energy is averaged over this window and makes up your peak demand power usage. MidAmerican has a SummerSaver plan to help homeowners avoid peak demand charges.

Peak Alerts: In cities that commonly experience hot summers, peak alerts will be issued when temperatures hit mid to high 90s. Alerts ask consumers to decrease their electricity usage when it’s expected to be at maximum levels, which helps reduce the potential for higher costs.

How to Lower Electric Bills With HVAC & Air Conditioner Efficiency

During the summertime a lot of customers ask what is the best air conditioner temperature to save the most money. The truth is, there’s not a specific temperature, but our heating and cooling experts recommend setting the air conditioner temperature a few degrees higher than your normal settings for big savings. It’s a small enough change that you won’t be uncomfortably hot, and it can have a big impact on lowering your electric bill. 

In fact, you can reduce your energy usage 3-5% for each degree you turn up the thermostat.

Pro tip: If you have a programmable Wi-Fi thermostat, adjust your settings to turn the air conditioning down even more when you’re away from home. There’s no need to pay for cooling if you’re not in the house, and you can always program it to turn on before you get home so you stay comfortable.

To stay away from peak demand charges and paying more for your electricity, avoid using all your energy at once.

This doesn’t just apply to air conditioner efficiency, but it’s a good idea to stagger the start times of all sizable electronics so the energy usage is not stacked at one specific time. For example, start your dishwasher in the morning, have your A/C set to startup shortly before you get home, then start your laundry over your lunch break or after work. Baking with the oven is also a task that takes up quite a bit of energy and should not be done when other major appliances are being used.

Instead of doing all your chores once, varying the energy demand throughout the day will help you avoid peak charges.

If you live in an apartment or work in an office complex, you’ll notice a lot of consumers start their air conditioners around the same time. The same goes for neighborhoods and homeowners. When everyone cools down and warms up their house at once it takes a lot of energy, so plan around peak demands to save money.

In the winter, peak hours start as early as 7 a.m., so try setting your heating system to come on an hour earlier.

This will allow you to be comfortable without competing with others around you for electricity. Summertime peak hours start a little later since the morning is typically cooler, so avoid your unit turning on around 10 a.m.

Sign up for MidAmerican Energy's Cycling Program

If you participate in their summer program, they'll offer you a $40 credit at the end of the summer. They have an entire brochure explaining how it works on their website, "The program is simple – it controls the use of residential central air conditioners or air-source heat pumps (ground-source heat pumps are not eligible) when demand for electricity is at its highest. The SummerSaver program effectively reduces peak demand, helping us to use our existing generation assets more efficiently while helping to defer the need for new generation. " 

Our final energy saving air conditioner tip is the easiest - weed whack around your air conditioner.

Make sure the airflow is sufficient. Oftentimes grass, weeds, shrubs and other outdoor conditions can block the ventilation and overwork your cooling system. Something this simple could be forcing your system to work harder than it needs to and costing you more money. Poor airflow can lead to many problems for your A/C and may even trip the breaker, so occasionally check for debris around your unit.

Additional Steps to Take to Save Money on Electric Bills

We’ve covered everything you need to know about air conditioning efficiency, but our heating and cooling experts have a few more tips on how to lower electric bills that don’t directly involve your A/C.

  • Increase air circulation with fans. Using portable or ceiling fans to keep cool air moving throughout your home will help with your overall comfort level - even when you’re away from home. For optimal cooling, reverse the direction of your ceiling fan to pull cool air up instead of pushing it down.
  • Check your home’s ventilation. Having sufficient roof ventilation will help save money on electric bills in the summer months and throughout the winter. Proper ventilation not only helps you reduce energy usage, but it can prolong the shingle life on your roof and prevent damage. If you’re not sure whether you have roof ventilation, there’s a couple ways to check. In the summertime, touch the ceiling below your attic on a sunny day, and if the ceiling is hot your attic is storing all the heat from outside, which raises your cooling bills. In the winter, you can tell if your roof isn’t ventilated if you have ice buildup on the eaves of your home. This happens because when the attic heats up inside it will melt the snow on top of the roof and turn to ice. Installing a vent on your roof can help you save money on electric bills and it’s not very difficult to set up.
  • Shut out sunlight. You might be surprised how much heat is generated inside a home just from the sun shining through the windows. When you’re away from the house, make sure all curtains are pulled and blinds are adjusted to keep outdoor light to a minimum.

Want to Know More About Energy Saving Air Conditioners?

Lozier Heating & Cooling has highly efficient Energy Star air conditioners for optimal home comfort that saves money. We’re also the experts on energy savings for air conditioners and other HVAC equipment.

We've been serving the Greater Des Moines area for more than 110 years, and our goal is to help educate our customers about energy efficiency and home comfort (specific to HVAC systems).