Don’t Go Broke Staying Cool: These 5 Hacks Will Save Your Utility Bill This Summer

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hip/cool woman hanging out in her house with her dog in the summer saving money on her utility bill
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Summer’s long, sunny days can come with rising utility costs as more energy goes toward cooling your home and other needs. But how can you keep your utility costs down as temperatures rise?

While some repairs and upgrades to your home can be costly, there are a few easy ways to keep a handle on your utility costs, especially if you’ve been having trouble paying your bills. Here are ideas straight from the experts on how to save energy.

1. Put a timer on your hot water heater

You probably don’t need hot water in your house when you’re away at work. So why pay to keep the water hot all day?

“You can put a time on the hot water heater so that if you leave in the morning to go to work, you can have that timed off until four or five in the afternoon and have it come back on,” said Jule Philpot, owner of Mr. Electric in central Kentucky. “When I’m away during the day, it won’t be using electricity when I’m gone. It only takes a few minutes to heat it up.”

Philpot said some hot water heaters might come installed with an on-and-off switch. Check yours to see if you do or if you want to add a timer.

2. Don’t turn off your air conditioner during the day

There are two schools of thought on whether you should turn off your air conditioning during the day while you’re at work. Some people contend that it’s a waste of energy to leave it on all day. Others, such as Philpot, have a different line of thought.

“I don’t turn my heating and air completely off because it takes longer to heat back up and cool back down,” he said. “Everything that’s in the house has to get cool.” This includes your wood, stone, and furniture. These can hold heat and be challenging to cool during the hottest part of the day, when you’re likely to return home from work.

Philpot doesn’t think you should leave your air conditioning on full blast, however. “The only thing I would say is you can adjust your thermostat so it’s not coming on as much,” said Philpot. That way, you’re not using as much energy, and you don’t have to work from square one to get your place cooled down.

3. Change your lightbulbs to LEDs

If you haven’t changed your lightbulbs to LEDs yet, Philpot said now is the time to do it. “The total cost of electricity if you used your lightbulbs for 25,000 hours at 12 cents per kilowatt would be $180 with incandescent bulbs, and the LED bulbs would be $30,” he said. Those are pretty significant savings for a simple change at home.

Also, you might have to change your lightbulbs by law in the near future. The federal government passed a law that will force lightbulbs to be three times more efficient by 2020. You could save yourself more money in the long run by changing your lightbulbs now. Some power companies might help offset the cost of the change with rebates.

Check this online search tool to see if there are any rebates offered for switching lightbulbs in your area.

4. Switch your ceiling fan direction

“All ceiling fans have two settings,” said J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, a home improvement services provider. “One clockwise and one counterclockwise. The counterclockwise forces the air down and cools you off.”

Make sure you change the direction of your ceiling fan in the summer months to counterclockwise. That way, it’ll work in tandem with your air conditioner. Depending on where you live, the ceiling fan might also be cool enough that you could forgo air conditioning altogether.

“There certainly are some climates that you might be able to get away with just the ceiling fan,” said Sassano.

5. Fill leaks in your home

With all of the work it takes to cool your home, you’ll want to ensure your home has good airflow. “It’s about finding the spots in your house where the air can escape … you don’t want it to,” said Sassano.

He said some leaks are possible to fill on your own, while those in hard-to-reach places are better left to a professional. If you notice major leaks, you might have to dip into your emergency home repair fund. In general, though, you might be able to fix some problems with minimal investment.

“Weather stripping around doors is pretty easy to do, there’s also a gasket around outlets that you can do as well,” said Sassano.

For weather stripping, he recommended using a light test to see if the seal is solid. “Check your seal at the bottom of your doors when they open and close, so it’ll shut out the air and also insects, bugs, and rodents,” he said. “If you turn off your lights and can see through the door — see daylight on the other side — you have some sealing problems.”

Sassano said that checking your seals should be a regular part of your maintenance. “Anything that has a caulk or a seal, you want to do a check on that every couple of years to make sure the seal hasn’t been broken or the caulk hasn’t been dried up,” he said. “Anything around your windows is the most important thing.”

Enjoy summer knowing you’re saving money

With a few smart adjustments to your home, you can enjoy the summer heat and long days knowing you’re getting the best deal on your energy. That means more money left over for summer vacations and cookouts.

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal LoansFixed rates from 6.58% APR to 14.87% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.275% APR to 12.575% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of July 16, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.275% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.10% plus 4.175% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  • Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  1. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  2. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

  • Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  1. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  2. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
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5.99% – 18.99%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
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5.49% – 18.24%$5,000 - $75,000Visit Earnest
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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.