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Unexpected Ways to Lower Your Energy Bills

by Irene Park

The struggle seems to occur every year: as the heat rises, how do you keep cool without breaking the bank? Like many municipalities, power companies raise the cost of using electricity as more people use it; essentially, when there is the higher need for cooling.

A lot of consumers are hoping to benefit from affordable and cheap power prices. Looking at electricity plans can help reduce the charges to an extent. Besides that, a plethora of new and traditional products can help create a cooling strategy that gives you more control and help you save money at the same time!

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Smart Air Conditioners

Ways Smart Air Conditioners can save you energy costs
We all know that getting regular Air Conditioning Repair and Maintenance is an ideal way to keep your AC energy efficient. But, how can a smart air conditioning take this one step further?

You’ve read about BTUs (British Thermal Unit), which measure how much heat an a/c unit removes in the air. I also want to test if WiFi makes a cooling difference. Though the wireless feature can be dismissed as another gimmicky addition to the cheapest air conditioner sold & still available during a massive heatwave. Let’s test it out.

After setting up the air conditioner in my window and connecting it to my wifi network, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to use the manufacturer’s app to control a/c settings. The real cost saving comes into play with the sheer amount of control you have of your a/c unit on your phone.

Ways Smart Air Conditioners can save you energy costs

  • Always have control of the ac thermostat via the app on your phone, which allows you to turn it on, off, or adjust settings via the app on your phone.
  • With a wifi enabled ac unit, you can keep the ac off while you’re out or away from the space then turn it back on via the app on your phone 10-15 minutes before you arrive.
  • You can set a timer with thermostat and a/c setting so it will automatically adjust as the temperature rises or drops throughout the day.

Cost: $100 to $800+

Energy output: Though energy output depends on usage, a smaller sized ac window unit has a usage of about 500 watts per hour while larger unit might use upwards of 1400 watts per hour.

Some Smart Air Conditioner options we like

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

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Smart Plugs

Ways smart plugs can save you energy costs
A common source of energy loss is referred to as a vampire draw, where even when appliances are turned off they can still draw energy, which can add to your monthly electricity costs. This is where a smart plug can be an affordable and easy way to prevent energy drain.

It is a small plug that you can insert into any outlet, which makes ‘dumb’ appliances (ones without any wifi capabilities) ‘smarter’. Since the plug itself is connected to your wifi network, it gives you control over the appliance that is plugged into it.

With a smart plug you can assess the energy consumption of whatever appliance is plugged into it, and better yet, control it’s features from your phone.

Ways Smart Plugs can save you energy costs

  • Make your ‘dumb’ appliances ‘smart’ by simply plugging it into a smart plug then use the app on your phone or smart assistant to control it wirelessly.
  • Smart plugs can turn off items you commonly forget to turn off, easing the stress of forgetting and cutting the cost & risk of keeping certain appliances on. Simply open the app on your phone and as long as it is connected to the smart plug, you can turn off that outlet thus turning off the appliance connected to it.
  • Many smart plugs feature an option via their app to help figure out how much energy whatever is plugged into it uses while powered on or off (vampire draw). This way you can decide whether it is worth turning the appliance on or off.
  • Many smart plugs come with timer features so you can schedule when you want certain outlets, thus electronics, on or off.

Cost: Can start from $11 or less and upwards of $50+ depending on the brand and features you want to buy.
Energy output: Smart plugs themselves do not use a lot of electricity. Smart plugs use approximately 1 Watt of power when in standby mode. That results in an energy usage of 8.76 kWh over the course of a year.

Some Smart Plug options we like

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

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Directional Window Fans

Directional Window Fans
On a hot summer day, I’d open my front door to find out that the temperature had finally dropped while the rest of my home felt like an inferno. When hot air rises, depending on the structure of your home, it can become trapped creating heat pockets.

Because the hot air rises during the day and the cool air has no way of entering and circulating, my home feels 10-20 degrees warmer than the temperature outside! While leaving my ac running is a possibility, it certainly wasn’t an efficient nor cost-effective alternative as temperatures dropped in the evening.

Window fans consume far less electricity than any ac unit and it can effectively cool your home by using the natural cooling temperatures outdoors. These fans sit in the window frame and can be used to blow air in or out.

Ways window fans can save you energy costs

  • Having a window fan alone creates more air circulation so you don’t have stagnant air sitting in a space.
  • A window fan blowing out the hot air means less air to cool, it allows you to keep your space cooler by:
    • Raising the thermostat of an ac unit
    • Allowing less frequent use of an ac unit
  • By having a window fan draw air in, you can effectively utilize the cool air from outside as the day cools down instead of using the ac to remove heat from the air.
  • Multiple window fans can create an effective strategy for cooling a home: one pulls in cooler air or at least a breeze while another blows out hot air.
    • A way to support this strategy is to put the fan blowing hot air out near the hotter or sun exposed part of the home and the fan pulling in cooler air or breeze in the cooler, shadier area of the home.

Cost: Can start from around $15+
Energy output: Like other types of fans, window fans use less power than an A/C unit. Most window fans typically consume between 35 and 100 watts, depending on its make and model.

Some window fan options we like

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

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Ceiling Fans

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Though ceiling fans can seem like antiquated yet decorative features in people’s homes, it can be a powerful yet cost effective tool for keeping your home cool!

In addition to using less energy to power than an air conditioner, the ceiling fan is more efficient at circulating air. A ceiling fan is so efficient that it will allow you to raise the thermostat 4 F higher with no reduction in comfort while using an air conditioner!

Ways ceiling fans can save you energy costs

  • Both cheaper to buy and to use (uses less electricity) than air conditioners
  • Can create an evaporative cooling effect without turning on the ac by making the fan spin counterclockwise, which will help push the air down, creating a ‘wind chill’.
  • Keep fan blades 7 to 9 feet above the floor and 10 to 12 inches below the ceiling to maximize air circulation in a room.
  • A 225 square feet room can be cooled by fans of 36- or 44-inch diameters while fans that are 52 inches or more should be used in larger rooms.
  • Only cool for the person in the room, it doesn’t cool a room down so make sure to turn it off if you’re not going to be in the room where the ceiling fan is located.

Cost: Though costs vary by area, the cost to install ceiling fans range from $50 to $250+
Energy output: A fan with 36-inch blades uses approximately 55 watts. A fan with 48-inch blades typically consumes 75 watts, while a 52-inch-blade fan uses 90 watts.

Some ceiling fan options we like

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

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Compact Personal Air Cooler

Compact personal air cooler
We’ve all seen those fancy social media ads for devices dubbed as ‘mini air conditioners’. These are actually portable evaporative or swamp coolers. Unlike air conditioners that use refrigerants to remove the heat in the air, these devices work by evaporating water to cool the air around it.

By filling a water tank, which has moisture pads that absorbs the water, the fan draws the air into the cooler and passes it through the pads. As the droplets of water evaporate from the pad, it blows cooler air out and causes the temperature to drop around it.

Ways compact personal coolers can save you energy costs

  • Some evaporative or swamp coolers can lower temperatures down by 15 degrees.
  • Compact coolers are small in dimension and lightweight enough to carry from room to room, which means you won’t need multiple units to stay cool.
  • Its portability allows you to move the cooler with you so it is only cooling when you need it and not running unnecessarily in another part of the home.
  • Most include features such a timers and fan speed so you can control how much energy it consumes.
  • Some come equipped with air filtration capabilities and others have carbon filters to reduce harmful or irritating particles in the air.
  • These devices work best in dryer climates as it releases moisture in the air increasing humidity.
  • Note: you will need to refill water in the tank periodically. The amount of water it needs depends on usage.

Cost: $38+
Energy output: Uses a tenth of the energy used to cool with an air conditioner. Some are so compact that they can consume merely 18W of electricity, which is less than a standard lightbulb!

Some compact personal air cooler options we like

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

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Wearable Personal Air Conditioner

Wearable Personal Air Conditioner
If you’ve ever wished for an air conditioner that could go everywhere with you, there might be a device that answers those prayers. Polar Seal’s GEMM is a small electronic device that you can wear around your neck, which cools or heats with a push of button.

They utilize a patent-pending thermoelectric technology sits on the back of the neck which acts as a way to cool down to 50 degrees F or heat up to 108 degrees F. The cooling portion of the device sits on the back of the neck, which is scientifically understood to be an area that connects to the brainstem controlling body temperature. This technology maximizes the body’s natural cooling ability. Thus, it cools the rest of the body down as well.

Ways wearable personal air conditioners can save you energy costs

  • Since it is wearable technology that works with a push of a button, you can utilize it when you want and control it.
  • It is has a built-in 1,700mAh 37V battery so it doesn’t have to be plugged in to use, meaning less energy consumption.
  • The built-in battery is rechargeable, which means a one-time charge as you go is all you need.
  • Only 2.5 hours is all you need to fully charge the device’s battery meaning less energy consumption.
  • With the ~7 hour battery life on full charge, you’ll be charging the device less frequently than an appliance such as an air conditioner, which must be plugged to work.

Cost: Starts at $199
Energy output: Wattage depends on type of connecter used to charge device’s battery from power bank or outlet source as well as the length of time needed to charge fully.

A wearable personal air conditioner we like

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