Each summer seems to get hotter and hotter. By making some simple changes you can be more comfortable and reduce your energy consumption.
Having the afternoon sun coming directly into your home can increase inside temperatures. Having light-colored window coverings will reflect the heat back towards the outside. You will also play the curtain game – closing when the sun is blasting through and opening during evening and morning hours when it is cooler.
An average American home has the equivalent of a 3- foot by 3-foot hole in the wall, which allows your cooled air to be exchanged with outside air rather quickly. To reduce this air flow, caulk and weather strip around windows and doors, and put window putty in any gaps you have around loose windowpanes.
Some of the air exchange is also escaping under your doors. Adding sweeps or shoes to the bottom can make a big difference.
And if the air outside is hotter than inside, close the door.
Open up the windows at Night
Temperatures drop at night, and if they drop lower than the number set on your thermostat you might benefit from opening the windows. Be sure to open on both ends of your house to get good cross-ventilation.
Darker furniture retains more heat than light fabrics. Putting white fabric, either covers or just white sheets, will keep the room cooler.
If you can do some grilling outside instead of heating up the stove it will make a big difference. Your kitchen retains a lot of heat when cooking, so if you can’t grill outside, choose to do your cooking during the coolest part of the day.
It makes sense to have enough insulation in your attic, but also under your floors, to help maintain a steady temperature inside your home.
Lights in your home create heat, especially incandescent bulbs. The screen of your television also produces a lot of energy. If a TV is in a small room it will greatly increase the temperature of that space. You may want to save the TV viewing for cooler times of the day and be sure to turn off lights too.
Maintain A/C Unit
Is your A/C ready for summer? Here is a short HVAC checklist to follow prior to each season:
· Check air filters every month
· Check vents and clean out any dust. If you suspect mold, hire a professional to inspect your vents.
· Replace worn belts.
· Schedule an appointment with HVAC specialist if you hear strange noises.
Your HVAC system is complex and should be serviced every year, or more.
During the hotter summer months set your ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise. This draws the air up to the ceiling instead of blowing hot air down on you.
Hang Out Laundry
Clothes dryers are just a big hot box when you think about it. Drying your clothes on the line will reduce the heat produced from the dryer while also saving you some money on your energy bill. In a hot climate the clothes can dry in the time it takes to wash the next load.
Another option is to choose to do your laundry and ironing during the cooler parts of the day.
You may have the most efficient air conditioner available on the market today, but your energy costs depend on your thermostat settings. A programmable thermostat can save you 20 – 30% on your energy bills by keeping it set higher during the times you are out of the house and lowering just before you come home. You can also adjust morning and evening temperatures when it tends to be cooler.
Long Term Plan – Plant Trees and plants
Strategically planting trees around you home can create much needed shade. Put them in locations where you get the most heat during the day, usually where the afternoon sun hits the house. This will reduce the heat being absorbed by the sun during the day, which is released at night. Passive heat is great in the winter, but not during the hottest days of summer.
Interior Doors Open
Keeping interior doors open is critical to keeping your home cool. It allows the air to flow easily and eliminates hot spots.
Duct Booster Fan
A Duct Booster Fan can draw more cool air into a room as needed. You put it into the register vent and plug it in. It may be helpful if you spend a lot of time in a home office during the day, but it is the hottest room in the house. This devise may help you keep cool without turning down the thermostat and over-cooling the entire house.
Heat Reduction Film
Heat reducing window film can be applied to your windows which reflects heat to the outside. It also works the opposite for winter months keeping warm air inside. Of course, you will want to make sure to caulk and putty windows if needed before applying to get the maximum benefit.
Taking some or all these measures will surely keep you cool in the heat of the summer while saving you a bit of money in the long run. You may also want to ask your local utility company if they conduct free energy audits so that you can have a professional assess your home and give you some suggestions.