Summer has not been kind to our electric bill this year.
Even though we use budget billing to level out the amount we pay each month, we still see our monthly energy usage on each bill and it has been really high this summer.
This summer has been warm, as all summers in Florida are, but it hasn’t been as rainy which mean temperatures have stayed high into the evenings as well.
The heat puts a big strain on our air conditioner to keep our home cool.
This is key because our air conditioner is easily the biggest use of electricity in our home.
Heating & Cooling Is A Huge Part Of Your Utility Bill
According to Energy.gov, heating and cooling can account for roughly 48% of your utility bill. That’s huge! We personally see this very clearly on our monthly usage.
During the summer our electric bill spikes as our air conditioner has to work to keep our house cool. In the winter, we see a similar but smaller spike as our heat pump system keeps our house warm.
Luckily, the spring and fall are both fairly nice outside, so we’re able to open the house up and not use our heating and cooling system as much and our electric bill always ends up lower during those months.
What Temperature Do You Keep Your Thermostat At?
Personally, we keep our thermostat set at 77 degrees in the summer. It’s normally in the high 80’s to the mid 90’s outside in the summer here, so our air conditioner still has to work pretty hard to cool our house down to 77.
In the winter, we keep our thermostat set at 70 degrees. Although I probably wouldn’t mind setting it at 68, we have a bird that is very temperature sensitive so we keep the house at 70 degrees.
Luckily, the temperatures only get down into the 30s at the lowest during most of the winter, so our heat pump doesn’t have to work as hard as our air conditioner has to in the summer.
According to our energy company, for every degree below 78 that we set our thermostat at in the summer, our electric bill will go up 7% to 10%. Similarly, for every degree we set our thermostat above 70 degrees in the winter, our electric bill will go up 7% to 10%.
According to that logic, just changing your thermostat 3 degrees could change your electric bill 21% to 30%. Of course, there are other things you can do to affect your heating and cooling costs on your electric bill, too.
Use Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans help move air around the room, making your home feel cooler in the summer. Alternatively, if you switch the direction of your ceiling fan in the winter, it will allow you to blow the warm air down from the ceiling.
Either way, using your ceiling fans in the rooms you spend the most time in can help you set your thermostat a degree or two off of your ideal temperature and still feel comfortable.
Weatherproof Your Home
Weatherproofing your home is another great way to save on your electric bill in the heating and cooling department. Any place where the cool or warm air can escape from your home presents an opportunity to lower your bill. After all, the escaping air essentially heats or cools the outdoors which is completely useless to you.
If you have old windows and doors, upgrading them with more energy efficient versions may save you a decent amount of money. Even newer windows and doors can be weatherproofed by putting down new weatherstripping and caulking areas around your windows.
Use Windows To Your Advantage
Speaking of windows, simply covering or uncovering windows can assist keeping your house cool or warm. In the summer months, you should keep your windows covered to reduce the greenhouse effect you get from the sunlight hitting the glass.
Similarly, in the winter you should uncover your windows so the sun can warm the inside of your home.
Is Your Comfort Worth $50 Per Month?
There are some things you can do to lower your electric bill regardless of what temperature you set your thermostat is at. But… is it worth it to continue to try to find more savings by adjusting your thermostat temperature?
Personally, we decided to keep our thermostat set at a temperature that keeps us comfortable. To us, it is worth spending a little bit more money so we can sleep well at night and not sweat all day because our home is too warm in the summer.
However, if your budget is so tight that you’re spending more than you earn, it may make sense to strictly monitor your thermostat settings to save a bit of money every month.
What temperature do you set your thermostat at in the summer? What about the winter? Is it worth it to you to pay more on your electric bill to be comfortable in your home?
Lance Cothern, CPA holds a CPA license in Indiana. He’s a personal finance, debt and credit expert that writes professionally for top-tier publications including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Investopedia, Credit Karma, Business Insider and more.
Additionally, his expertise has been featured on Yahoo, MSN, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Kiplinger, Reuters, CNBC and more.
Lance is the founder of Money Manifesto. He started writing about money and helping people solve their financial problems in 2012. You can read more about him and find links to his other work and media mentions here.