As we roll into summer, many people wonder when heat waves will begin and bring the season’s first air-conditioning bill. While a newer, high-efficiency air conditioner or heat pump usually reduces cooling costs, they also require a sizable investment. So what can a homeowner do this summer to save energy without breaking the piggy bank? Read on!
Windows – When it cools off at night, turn off your cooling system and open your windows. When you wake in the morning, shut windows and blinds to keep heat out. If needed, install window coverings that reduce heat gain through your windows.
Thermostat – Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends no lower than 78°F (26°C) when you are at home and need cooling. When you are away, allow your home to become warmer with a higher thermostat setting. A programmable thermostat can make this process easy. Remember not to set your thermostat to a “colder-than-normal” setting when you return. A lower setting will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.
Fans – If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. Remember to turn off ceiling fans when you leave the room. Fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect. When bathing or showering, use the bathroom fan to remove heat and humidity from your home. Bathroom and kitchen fans should be vented to the outside and not just to the attic.
Cooling System Efficiency – Schedule regular maintenance for your cooling equipment, at least once every three years. Avoid placing lamps or TV sets near your thermostat, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary. Also, ensure that furniture and other objects are not blocking airflow through your registers.
Cooking – On hot days, avoid using the oven; cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside. Minimize kitchen exhaust fan usage to reduce the amount of conditioned air removed from inside.
Lighting – Install efficient lighting, such as light-emitting diode (LED) lamps, that runs cooler. Take advantage of daylight instead of artificial lighting, but avoid direct sunlight.
Cleaning – Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. If the option is available, consider air drying both dishes and clothing. Take short showers instead of baths. Water heating can account for 10 percent or more of the energy consumed in your home. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding your hands.
Sealing – Keep hot air from leaking into your home by sealing cracks and openings. Add or repair caulk and weather stripping to seal out warm air. Replace old, cracked weather stripping, door sweeps, and thresholds as well.
In General – Minimize activities that generate a lot of heat, such as running a computer, burning open flames, running a dishwasher, and using hot devices such as curling irons or hair dryers. This is especially important during the hotter times of the day. Even stereos and televisions will add some heat to your home.