When the kids are home for the summer, your family’s energy use is likely to be very different than during the school year.
When everyone’s up early and getting ready for school or work, your energy use probably peaks in the morning and then again in the evening when the family returns home. Energy use is likely lower during the day when everyone is gone.
But during the summer, when children and college students are home, energy use can be much higher. Air conditioning is likely to be running most of the day along with many other appliances and electronics, explains Armando Ruiz, a Technical Specialist with Tucson Electric Power who has 15 years of experience in energy efficiency.
“In the summer, kids are watching the big-screen TV, playing video games and using the computer,” he said. “They’re also in the kitchen cooking or making meals and snacks, and they might be running in and out to the pool all day. Adults also might be doing laundry, running the dishwasher or vacuuming.”
Not only do these activities increase energy use, but they also generate heat, forcing your AC unit to work harder to cool the home.
“If you don’t use appliances that give off heat – such as the dishwasher, clothes dryer and TV – you’re reducing energy use as well as the need to run your AC,” Ruiz said. “Consider using these appliances at night when it’s cooler.”
Ruiz offers these reminders to help customers save energy when the kids are home for summer vacation:
- Turn off ceiling fans, lights and appliances when the room is not being used.
- Unplug appliances and electronics when they’re not in use so they don’t draw “phantom” power.
- When the kids go outside, turn off the TV, DVD player and other living room electronics all at once by using a power strip.
- Prepare meals or snacks that don’t need to be cooked or use the microwave or outdoor grill rather than the stove and oven.
- Set your thermostat to 78°F or as high as comfortable while everyone’s home for the day.
When it’s really hot outside, consider escaping with the kids to an air-conditioned library, movie theater or mall. Before you go, be sure to close all windows and draw the blinds or curtains to keep the home cool. You also can increase the thermostat setting to boost energy savings.
“It is obvious, but the best way to save energy is not to use it,” says Ruiz. “Saving energy starts with being aware of your family’s activities and behaviors.”