Ways to Avoid the Physical and Financial Discomfort of Summer Heat
Heating and air conditioning (AC) account for almost half of a home’s energy use, but it is possible to both be comfortable and reduce AC bills. Efficient AC practices and a little discipline can go a long way and will save you money.
Use Windows to Gain Cool Air and Keep Out Heat
Avoid what is called direct heat gain when sunlit objects and materials soak up and then radiate heat. During the hottest parts of the day, or during times of direct sun, close curtains, blinds, and shades to prevent solar heat buildup and keep the cool air in. Use passive cooling techniques by opening windows in the cooler evenings to provide a breeze and cross-ventilation throughout the house. If you are thinking about replacing your windows, be sure to upgrade to energy-efficient options.
Operate the Thermostat Efficiently
Energy Star outlines the most efficient AC temperature settings as 78 degrees when you are home, 85 degrees when you are away, and 82 degrees when you are sleeping. Experiment to test your comfort limits and remember that even a setting which is two to three degrees warmer will save you money. Have a “hands off the thermostat” rule. Even better, use a programmable thermostat for the most economical use of your AC system as it reduces overreaction to extremes and accidentally running the AC when it is not needed. It is also important to install the thermostat on the proper wall so it is not influenced by direct sunlight or other factors.
Use Fans and Ventilation Strategies
Fans use much less energy than the AC system so use a ceiling fan or other circulating fan whenever possible. Think wind-chill effect. Fans don’t cool rooms, they cool people by helping to evaporate moisture from our skin. Like a fresh breeze, they make the space more comfortable and can help a room feel 10% cooler. Use fans especially in upstairs rooms to circulate the hot air that collects on upper floors. Also, remember to use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms to get rid of hot air in those rooms and install an attic fan to help with the heat under your roof. Another idea is to run either a portable or whole-house dehumidifier to make the house more comfortable.
Keep Your System Running Efficiently
Maintain your system by regularly cleaning or changing filters to prevent dust from blocking vents and to promote air circulation. You should also have the unit serviced regularly and make sure the ducts are properly insulated. If your HVAC system is antiquated, consider replacing it with a new, energy-efficient one.
Don’t Unintentionally Heat Your Home
Appliances, lighting, and electronics not only use electricity, they give off heat. Avoid heat build up during the day by avoiding use of the oven, washer, dryer, and dishwasher. Turn off or unplug electronics when not in use as computers, stereos and TVs also generate a fair amount of heat. Keep off unnecessary lights and switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs as they give off very little heat and use less energy than traditional light bulbs. It is also a good idea during warmer months to cook on the grill or use the microwave instead of the oven.
Keep Air from Leaking into and Out of Your Home
Insulate the attic. Seal leaks or cracks around windows and doors with weather stripping or caulk.
Don’t Forget About the Water Heater
Discipline your family to take cooler showers so your water heater works less. You might also consider turning down the actual setting of the water heater during warmer months to save money and create less radiant heat.
When replacing your roof, consider one with shingles that are designed to absorb less solar energy. Plant shade trees and shrubs to block sunlight from entering your home. Protect the outdoor part of your AC system from overheating with an awning or plantings and install awnings on the sunny side of your home. Also, remember that darker colors absorb more heat so consider a lighter color when repainting your home.
Close vents in the basement since cool air naturally settles in lower floors and use those lower floors of your home during warmer months. Use lighter sheets and blankets on the beds to accommodate a warmer setting on the AC overnight. Move furniture so nothing is blocking air vents and consider saving heavy chores for cooler times of the morning/evening. On cooler evenings, completely turn off the AC and use windows and fans instead.
Cutting back on AC is also good for the environment because it reduces carbon emissions. For more tips on how to save this summer or information on replacing your AC unit, contact the experts at GV’s Heating & Cooling today!