Homeowners and businesses who rely on conventional sources of energy are all asking the same question: How can I reduce my electric bill this summer? While we know that it takes plenty of power to run an air conditioner, and some parts of the country even hit triple digit temps. But here in New York, even running heaters during winters can be equally hard on the pocket.

Of course, the obvious solution is to go solar!

But along with switching to solar energy, there are many other things you can do this summer (or any time of year) to help reduce a high electricity bill. Here’s a list of choices recommended by SunPower:

 

1. Install a smart thermostat

Controlling your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system with a rudimentary up/down switch on a basic thermostat will not do much to help you save money on your electric bill. Instead, install a smart thermostat.

This lets you set up cooling and heating patterns according to when your home or business will be occupied. You can save money by automating the air conditioner to only turn on the weekends, for example, when the family is home, or on the weekdays, if you’re running an office.

A smart thermostat can be controlled online, letting you update settings via your smartphone, giving you more opportunities to cut costs.

According to the Heat and Cool Efficiently page of the government’s ENERGY STAR program, pre-programmed thermostat settings can save you about $180 per year in reduced energy consumption.

 

2. Add weather stripping

Your home will be more energy efficient if you add weather stripping. Sealing cracks along doors and windows stops warm air from escaping during the winter and keeps cold air in during the summer.

 

3. Air-dry laundry.

Use a clothesline or portable rack to air-dry wet laundry. If you don’t like the feel of naturally dried fabric, pop the load in the drier just briefly. Dryers are among your most expensive home electrical appliance to operate. In the U.S. dryers are blamed for emitting 32 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually — equivalent in greenhouse gas emissions to more than 76 billion miles driven by an average car.

 

4. Switch to LED lighting.

To save energy, many people now use compact fluorescent bulbs. You can save even more power (and money) when you opt for the newer LED bulbs. They use less energy to produce light and last longer than fluorescent bulbs —as much as 25 times longer than conventional bulbs. Aesthetics — which are important to SunPower — have improved significantly over the years as well, with many options delivering a warm incandescent-like light. Replacing 15 bulbs with LEDs can save you $50 per year, according to the Energy Saver report on energy efficiency and renewable energy from the U.S. Department of Energy.

 

5. Turn off appliances not in use.

It’s important to turn off electronics when you are not using them. This means switching off the TV, computer monitor or lights when you leave a room for any length of time. Installing motion sensors to control your lights is one way to take care of this chore. To turn off a lot of electronics at once, plug them into a power strip and use the on-off switch.

While going solar is one way to create more self-sufficient energy future, the path to a more sustainable world can start with small steps. We all have to change our habits to reduce the amount of energy we consume.