- Posted by hinged
If your electric bills double or even triple in the summer when your air conditioner is running around the clock, there are six things you can do to reduce the pain without having to spend any additional money. The fact that anything reducing energy use is good for the environment is an added bonus.
- The easiest big impact action is to turn up your thermostat. Pushing up the temperature even a few degrees can cut your energy use as much as 10%. If your thermostat is programmable, moving the time settings for keeping your house comfortable to more accurately match your schedule will also help. That being said, if you’re gone all day, don’t let your house get too hot as it can often take more energy to re-cool it from a high temperature that to keep it about four degrees higher than your comfort zone when you’re not home.
- If you have blinds or drapes closing them during the hottest part of the day can help, especially if you have windows that face the sun. You don’t see them as often here in the US but if you have functioning exterior shutters closing them will help too.
- Checking the vents in your attic is also important. Relieve heat buildup by making sure no stored items are blocking air flow. Further check the condition of the screens. The gable end type of attic vent has a screen that can easily become clogged with dust after only a few years. The soffit and ridge type of venting has bigger openings and if installed correctly are pretty much maintenance free.
- Keep cooking to a minimum. Baking and broiling create a lot of heat and make your system work extra hard. If you’re cooking on the stove, use the vent fan sparingly. Running the fan pushes that nice expensively cooled and dehumidified air right out of your house. The same thing applies to bathroom vents.
- Move lamps, computers, TVs and other heat producing equipment away from wall mounted thermostats. Heat rising off the equipment may make the air conditioning system over cool the house.
- If the heat moderates, consider turning off the air conditioner and just letting the fan part of the system run to keep your home comfortable.
Other projects that will more than likely involve hiring professionals that will also reduce your summer energy use can be tied into normal maintenance and upkeep.
There are energy audits available from most utility companies that are subsidized by government programs. The audits are often free and there are grants available to do the work they recommend. With most houses the most cost effective recommendation is to reduce airflow through your exterior walls by caulking all potential air leaks. This is a low-cost way to reduce radiant heat loss or gain. These audits will also recommend installing programmable thermostats if you don’t have them yet.
If you need to replace your roof, go with a light color roof shingle to reflect more of the sun’s heat. If you have cathedral ceilings or finished space in your attic, consider installing extra insulation under the roof shingles before replacing them.
If you’re remodeling the exterior of your house, consider extending the roof overhang, especially on the side of the house with sun exposure. Awnings or small roofs directly over the windows will also help.
When renovating it is also a good idea to consider upgrading your insulation and using insulated, gas filled and coated window glass.