Summer Ready DC

Summer Ready DC

During the summer, there are simple and inexpensive actions to help save energy and reduce utility bills during the summer months. With the launch of the SummerReadyDC Campaign, the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia is encouraging District residents to prepare their homes for high temperatures and summer storms. Below are some simple tips to use around the house, as well as resources for District consumers to keep cool, save energy and plan for summer storms.

11 Ways to Reduce Your Summer Utility Bills
Summer Ready DC

11 Tips to save electricity

1). Cut down on energy leaks

  • Shut off the light behind you.
  • Unplug electronics that aren’t being used. (i.e., cell phone chargers, small appliances like toasters, or power strips that provide power for many appliances)

Note: Big-screen TVs, DVD players, digital photo frames, and other appliances use more energy than you realize. Unplugging an appliance is best because certain appliances use energy even if they are turned off. Consult with roommates or coworkers before unplugging a shared appliance.

2). Close blinds, storm windows, or shades during the day

  • The sun can heat up a room very quickly.
  • Keeping the sun from shining into windows will cut down on cooling costs.

Note: Many stores sell thermal insulated curtains designed for this purpose to insulate against the heat.

3). Use air conditioning efficiently

  • Set the thermostat to 78 degrees, and don't lower it.
  • Turn the air conditioning off at night and in the early morning.
  • Invest in an energy efficient air conditioner, these are 10-15% more efficient.

Note: The smaller the difference between the outdoor and indoor temperatures, the smaller your bill. Do not place appliances that give off heat, such as lamps or TVs, near an air conditioner’s thermostat.

4). Use fans instead of air conditioning

  • Circulation is important to using less air conditioning during the summer.
  • Cool down the house early in the morning by placing a box fan in the window and opening up another window at the opposite end of the house, in addition to turning on ceiling fans. Box fans help cool air come inside.

Note: Most central air conditioners will also have internal fans to help circulate the air in your house while reducing your need to use the air conditioner. Turn the fan on “auto.” Using fans at night will help a natural breeze cool down your house. This will work if the temperature drops at night. Turn a fan directly towards yourself or guests.

5). Avoid heat build-up in your home

  • Use electronics in the early morning or late night (i.e., washer, dryer, air conditioning, computers)
  • On hot days, avoid using the oven; cook on the stove, use a microwave or grill outside.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and/or clothes. Consider air drying both dishes and/or clothing.
  • Take short showers instead of baths.

Note: Minimize activities that generate a lot of heat, such as running a computer, burning open flames running dishwasher, using hot device such as curling irons or hair dryers. Wait until after 6 p.m. to cook, do laundry, or wash dishes on days the temperature is over 90 degrees.

6). Ask about utility discounts or budget billing

  • Receive help with your bill year-round if you are in a low-income household, on disability, or have a limited income for other reasons.
  • A representative of your electricity company will tell you what discounts are available.
  • Utilize budget billing to help avoid seasonal peaks in your electric bills by dividing your payments evenly over the course of the entire year.

Note: Budget billing makes it easier to budget and pay your energy bill each month, because you’ll know your regular payment amount.

7). Participate in a voluntary direct load control program

  • Receive help with your bill year-round if you are in a low-income household, on disability, or have a limited income for other reasons.
  • The Direct Load Control Program involves getting bill credits in exchange for allowing the Pepco to install a control switch on your air conditioner, heater, or other utility.

Note: The electricity company will turn the utility off during peak hours. Often, the utility is not shut off for long periods of time

8). Use energy efficient light bulbs

  • Compact fluorescent (CFL) and light emitting diode (LEDs) bulbs are more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs because they use less energy.
  • Most stores have these bulbs available for purchase.

Note: Check lamps and other lights to see if you are using any incandescent bulbs. Replace all the incandescent bulbs in your house or office. CFL bulbs need to be recycled once they burn out.

9). Use energy efficient appliances

  • Microwaves, pressure cookers, or outdoor grills use less electricity than stoves and ovens.
  • You can also use a clothes-line instead of a dryer.
  • When purchasing new products, look for energy efficient options.

10). Check for proper insulation

  • Insulation cuts down on cooling costs because it helps keep cool air inside during the summer.
  • Insulation requirements have changed over the years,
  • Your home or place of work may not have enough insulation.
  • Some types of insulation can be installed by you, and others need professional installation
    • Check for insulation in attics or crawl spaces, making note of areas where there is weathering or gaps in the insulation.
    • Consult a professional to check your wall insulation because it requires probing an electrical socket
    • Batt insulation is flexible blanket-like products that fit into spaces of the wall. This type of insulation can be installed by homeowners.
    • Foam or fiber insulation will need to be installed by a professional.

11). Plant Shady trees on the west and south sides of your house

  • This is a more permanent solution to cutting down summer energy costs, and it is only possible if you are a homeowner or if you get permission from your landlord. The shady trees will cut down on cooling costs for your home.
  • Insulation requirements have changed over the years,
Summer Ready DC Home Check List
Summer Ready DC

Summer Ready DC Home Checklist

Exterior

  • Check to make sure there is no pooling water around your foundation
  • Have roof inspection for missing or loose shingles
  • Inspect the clean gutters and downspouts
  • Ensure home is property sealed by caulking around doors and windows, if necessary
  • Switch storm windows to screens
  • Turn on water supply to outside faucets
  • Touch up paint
  • Trim trees and shrubbery
  • Repair and stain deck
  • Spray around foundation, windows and doors with preventative insecticide

Interior

  • Have air conditioner serviced
  • Find and eliminate any leaks or gaps using caulking and/or weather stripping around windows and/or doors
  • Spray around baseboards, doors and windows with preventative insecticide
  • Clean or replace air filters, monthly
  • Clear obstacles to AC vents so air can freely flow
  • Change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Charge the battery backup for landline telephones
  • Clean dryer filter regularly
  • If you have a basement, check for cracks and leaks
  • Make sure you know where the shut-off switch is for water, gas and electric

Recommended Tips to Help Reduce Energy Costs

  • Use a programmable thermostat to raise temperatures at night or when you leave home
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs
  • If you have ceiling fan’s change fan’s direction
  • In older homes, insulate the attic
  • Consider budget billing to spread heating costs throughout the year
Summer Ready Summer Storm Check List
Summer Ready DC Summer Storm Check List
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Battery operated lanterns
  • Battery powered clock
  • Sand bags
  • Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries
  • Battery powered radio and extra batteries
  • Scissors
  • Duct Tape
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Rain gear
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Extra blankets
  • Clean clothes
  • Heavy gloves
  • Medications
  • First-aid kit
  • Extra water
  • Non-perishable food and a manual can opener
  • Cash
  • Family Comfort items: activity/coloring books, crayons, board games
  • Family communication plan

Note: Remember to have enough supplies for at least three days for each member of your household

Resources to Help Save Energy and Money

Energy Wise Rewards Programs
Pepco will install a web-programmable thermostat or outdoor switch at your home and cycle it during peak-use times in exchange for bill credits.

Pepco Payment Assistance
List of tools and technology to help manage your electric use such as budget billing.

Washington Gas Payment Plans
Payment options available to help manage your Washington Gas bill such as budget plan.

Information Resources

Ready…Prepare, Plan, Stay Informed
Ready is designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural and man-made disasters.

DC Heat Emergency Information
When the temperature or heat index reaches 95 degrees in the District, District Government activates cooling centers. Residents and visitors should take extra steps to beat the heat by staying in the shade or air-conditioning, drinking plenty of water and visiting cooling centers.

Resources to Programs

Utility Discount Programs
The DCPSC requires Verizon Washington, DC, Pepco, and Washington Gas to offer discount rates to low income residential customers.

Energy Assistance and Weatherization
The District’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) helps District residents with their energy and utility bills by offering financial assistance, discounts and late bill forgiveness programs.

Sustainable Energy Programs
The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) helps DC residents and businesses use less energy and save money by delivering financial incentives, technical assistance, and information.