As summer temperatures rise, we usually tend to slide down that thermostat and turn to our seasonal best friend – the air conditioner. That, unfortunately, leads to much higher than wanted energy bills. In fact, cooling costs account for up to 40% of the average summer utility bill making increased dependence on the AC unit not the most economic or eco-sensitive solution. Here are a few steps you can take to lower your monthly summer bills and keep your home cooler naturally.
The AC unit
A fact worth mentioning is that an air conditioner set at 70°F costs twice as much to operate as one set at 78°F. Raising the thermostat a mere 2 degrees above its normal setting will not make you feel a difference, but will save you money on your bill.
Try not to use a dehumidifier at the same time with your air conditioner. It will increase the cooling load and force the air conditioner to work harder.
74°F to 78°F is a comfortable range for most people. Set the thermostat a few degrees higher when leaving the house for several hours and lower it back when you return. But don't shut the air conditioner off as it's less efficient to cool the house back down than to leave it set at a higher temperature. An automated, programmable thermostat can take care of these tasks for you and will quickly pay for itself in energy savings.
Clean or replace your air conditioner filter monthly. Clogged and dirty filters block air flow and make the AC unit work much harder. Having a clean filter can save 10% on your bill.
Appliances, lights, and televisions all generate heat when in use. Turn them off to keep your home cooler, and swap out heat-producing incandescent light bulbs for the cooler, compact fluorescent light bulbs. Try to use appliances during the coolest part of the day. Instead of using the stove or oven for food preparation, use the outside grill or prepare meals in your slow cooker.
A ceiling fan only uses about as much energy as a 100-watt bulb and can make a room feel up to eight degrees cooler. In summer, blades should turn counterclockwise, pushing the air downward to create a cool breeze. Reverse directions in winter to make the fan draw air up.
Use box fans only if someone is in the room to enjoy them and don't leave them running in empty rooms. When the temperature drops at night, open the windows and place fans on the windowsill to draw in cool air.
Strategically open your windows and use the outside wind to create a cross-breeze in your home. To do so, first check which way the wind is blowing. When wind blows against a building, it creates a high-pressure area on the side where it hits and a low-pressure area on the opposite side. As the wind naturally wants to move from the high pressure area to the low pressure area, you can open your windows on both sides of your home to allow the air to move through your house, creating a breeze.
Keeping windows closed and curtains drawn during the heat of the day can reduce cooling costs by 30 percent. In the evening, when the sun goes down and the temperatures drop below 77°F, open windows to release the warm air from inside the house. Light-colored window treatments can reflect sunlight and heat away from your house as well.
Roof overhang and awnings, particularly over the west- and south-facing windows, protect your windows from direct sun and can not only block solar heat but will also protect your furnishings from UV damage.
Shut cooling vents to seldom-used areas like basements or guest suites. If nobody is there to enjoy it, don’t waste the energy.
Long Term Solutions
Strategically placed trees, shrubs and vines can all cool your house. Deciduous trees and shrubs planted along the east and west sides of your home allow breezes to pass underneath while blocking the sun from entering your home. If they grow tall enough, they can also help shade the roof. In the winter when the trees are leafless, the sun will help to heat your home. Growing vines up the side of your home will shade walls from the hot sunshine. You can also plant leafy groundcovers to cool the area around your home.
Apply low-emissivity film to older, less energy-efficient windows to block the sun's rays and help prevent cooled air from escaping.
Temperatures in an attic can rise extremely high on the hottest summer days. A thermostat-controlled attic fan can release superheated air and therefore help keep your entire house cooler.
Summer Savings – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle With good weather, hot sun, and longer daytime hours, summer hardly seems as the time to save money. Well, that does not necessarily have to be true. Even in the summer there are a number of easy and sensible ways to save. It is now time to make reducing, reusing and recycling your summer priorities.
Limit the use of air conditioning to the hottest days. Fans use much less energy and, when paired with open windows, can effectively cool your home with a nice cross-breeze and reduce your utility bill. Raising your thermostat a few degrees will also reduce your energy bills as well as the risk of regional brownouts.
Run your dishwasher and clothes washer at night, when there's less demand and prices are lower.
LIMIT DRYER USE
Use the warm summer weather and hot sun to help save on your energy bill. Limit the use of your dryer by line-drying your clothes outdoors.
USE WATER WISELY
Conserve H2O by watering your lawn during the cool parts of the day - in the early morning or late evening. This will minimize evaporation. Set up your sprinklers so that they do not water the driveway or sidewalk (hand water when possible as you will use much less water this way). Use rain barrels to collect precipitation you can use later.
SAVE THE BAGS
Plastic bags pollute our land, seas, kill wildlife and, at best, sit practically forever in landfill. Many stores are now beginning to charge for plastic bags, too. Using tote bags will save both money and the environment. The reuse potential of plastic bags is endless. You can take them with you to the supermarket to carry groceries. Any and all unneeded bags can be donated to your child's daycare center or school, a library, food pantry, or by tying them securely to dog-leash signs in public parks, where dog owners can use them to stoop-and-scoop.
Babysitting during the summer is typically easier than cold-weather babysitting. So when planning an evening out, don’t call the hired sitter, instead, ask another family to watch your child in return for your services the following weekend.
ENJOY THE BREEZE
Running your air-conditioner in your vehicle guzzles fuel. And we all know how expensive it can be to fill up that gas tank these days. Save gas by opening your windows (and sunroof where possible) and using air conditioning only when even a breeze isn't enough to cool you. When possible, consider carpooling to work to save even more gas.
This is not the time to get lazy. Even though you have decided to sell it, fixing up your home, putting decorator touches,
and therefore making it appealing to the broadest range of potential buyers really pays off in the end.
According to the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP), even in the 2007 market slowdown,
93 percent of professionally staged home sold within one month. With the average for professionally staged homes being 32 days,
as compared to 160 days for comparable non-staged homes. And perhaps a better statistic is that, on average, they sold for an increase
of 3 to 10 percent.
There are two good reasons to switch to high-efficiency appliances. The major appliances in your home such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, and dishwashers account for a big chunk of your monthly utility bill. The fist and obvious reason to switch to high-efficiency appliances is to save a bundle on your bills. If your refrigerator, for example, is more than a decade old, you're spending a lot more money on energy than you need to. Most energy-efficient refrigerators of today will use less than half the energy of a model that's 12 years old or older. The savings on you energy bills make it worth buying the pricier high-efficiency model as it puts that money back into your pocket.
The second reason to user energy-efficient appliances is for the greater good - as they are much better for the environment. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary gas affecting global warming, and virtually all energy-using equipment results in CO2 pollution. Choosing a more efficient furnace will reduce emissions of this pollutant right from your home. Burning of coal or gas in most power plants to create electricity produces emissions. The less energy we use (by switching to high efficiency appliances), the lower our demand will be on these power plants, which will result in less pollution.
Replacing your 20-year-old refrigerator with a new, energy-efficient model, will not only you save about 800 kWh per year but will also reduce your home's CO2 contribution by about one ton per year.
When our central air conditioning unit broke down a technician was at our house right away,
the repair would have cost us $780 without HSC ! we are completely satisfied and our house
is once again cool thanks to HSC!
Debbie S -NY
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