If the warmer weather has you thinking about the sultry summer months ahead, this could be a great time to consider energy-saving options and making plans to help control your energy costs.
There’s a combination of things you can do yourself, like making slight modifications to your family’s routine, that can help identify and achieve opportunities for savings while keeping your home more comfortable throughout the summer cooling season.
When it comes to heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment, spending a few dollars at the beginning of the season can add up to big savings and help you avoid expensive surprises and system failures.
A qualified service technician with the right skills and equipment will check key components like the compressor and condenser, clean the coils and inspect the ductwork. A technician may also offer advice on how to get the most value out of your programmable thermostat.
According to experts with the Energy Star program, sealing and insulating ductwork can improve the overall efficiency of your HVAC system by as much as 20%. Making sure systems are appropriately sized can also improve performance.
Consider replacing systems that are more than 10 years old (or those that no longer keep your home comfortable) with a high-efficiency system that is properly sized and designed to meet your needs.
Gain Insights From Energy Audits
Sometimes it pays to get the big picture, so when it comes to energy efficiency and getting real value for your home improvement dollar, professional advice is a good place to start.
While a professional home energy audit is the best way to determine where your home is losing energy and where you can save, you can conduct your own simple but diligent walk-through and spot many problems, helping you pinpoint some of the easier areas to address. Two good online resources are at energy.gov and homeenergysaver.lbl.gov.
An analysis developed from the collected information can help determine a series of recommendations that, if accomplished, can produce savings. Homeowners can then decide which measures fit into their budgets and schedules as they consider improvement projects.
Small Changes Add Savings
When the goal is keeping your house cool and comfortable, remember that any activities adding heat and humidity to your air conditioned spaces can increase your costs.
Open doors don’t just allow people to come and go, they also provide an instant exchange of cooler inside air for warm, moist outside air—much the same as the cooling effect you experience when standing in front of an open refrigerator. A cooler stocked with cold drinks and chilled snacks and placed outdoors can help cut down on household traffic on hot summer days.
When cooking, consider using smaller appliances like a slow cooker—or better yet, take the extra heat from cooking outdoors and fire up the grill.
Ceiling fans operating in an air conditioned space can make you feel about 4 degrees cooler while you are in the room. But the benefits only occur when a room is occupied. Make it a habit to turn off the fan when you leave the room.