For many of us, summer has become synonymous with high energy bills. However, even if you’re one of those people who has to have their AC running at all times, there are things that you can do to cut down on energy costs. To that end, we’ve created the following guide. Below is a list of surprisingly simple tips that you can use to ensure that your home stays energy efficient this summer. Don’t go into the warmer months without it.
Optimize your HVAC
The first step that every homeowner should take toward making sure their home is energy efficient is to keep their HVAC system in good shape. The easiest way to do that is to make the effort to keep up with the HVAC maintenance schedule. While that’s truly a year-round effort, the summer months are all about two tasks. First, have an HVAC professional perform a seasonal check-up. Second, make sure you change the air filter regularly.
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During the inspection, the professional will look at the connections, voltage, lines, fins, pans, coils, refrigerant levels, blower system components and more. He or she will also lubricate moving parts, clean dirty components and calibrate the blower.
Do your part, too. Cleaning the filter ensures that dust and dirt don’t get trapped in the components of your HVAC unit. They can cause an unnecessary amount of wear and tear on the system.
After the inspection is over and new filters are in place, you can further optimize your HVAC system by setting the thermostat for the season. While it may be tempting to adjust the temperature in accordance with the weather, don’t. Doing so actually expends more energy and can raise your cooling bills. Instead, experts recommend setting the system at a manageable temperature each season and then leaving it alone.
Seal up your home
You’re probably used to hearing about sealing up cracks and air leaks in your home in conjunction with advice on how to keep your home warmer during the winter months. While this maneuver will help keep warm air inside your home, it will also help keep the cool air where it belongs. The reality is, if all the cool air is escaping your home, your HVAC system has to work that much harder. If the cool air stays put, however, your system will be able to shut off sooner, saving you on energy costs.
Ideally, a professional will help you detect the areas where air is leaking from your home. However, if you don’t want to make that level of a commitment just yet, you can do some of this work yourself. Simply make sure that your attic is properly insulated and use caulk or weatherstripping to create a proper seal on all your doors and windows.
Though it may seem simple, one of the easiest ways to keep yourself cool in the summer is to invest in a high-quality ceiling fan. While ceiling fans don’t directly cool the air, they work well with your AC by helping to circulate the cool air faster. According to the Department of Energy, using ceiling fans allows you to set your thermostat up to four degrees higher, which will help save money.
The key to helping a ceiling fan do its job is to pay attention to the direction that the air is flowing. Most fans have both a “clockwise” and “counterclockwise” setting. In the summertime, you want the blades on your fan to run counterclockwise. That way, they push the cool air back down towards you. The trick for determining if the fan is set properly is simply to stand under the fan while it’s on and see if you feel a breeze. If you do, it’s set correctly. If not, all you need to do is get a ladder and switch the setting.
Watch out for heat-generating appliances and lighting
Did you know that only 10 to 15 percent of the electricity that incandescent lightbulbs consume is used to create light? The remainder is turned into heat. Fortunately, you can combat these percentages by using newer, energy efficient lightbulbs, which run cooler. Additionally, turning off any lights that you aren’t using helps to stop the creation of any excess heat.
Like lighting, the electronics in your home can also create excess heat energy. Appliances like your washing machine, dishwasher and oven are the biggest culprits. You can give yourself a leg up by investing in certified, energy efficient models of these products. However, the best way to save on energy is to avoid using these appliances on hotter days. Wait until it cools down a little to do that laundry and look into alternative cooking methods like grilling.
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