The official start of summer is a month away, but down South, the weather is heating up and air conditioners are cranking up. Warm weather is here to stay so don’t let your energy use rise while the outside temperature does. Take a look at these tips to help keep energy use down while maintaining your cool.
First, schedule a maintenance check for cooling equipment. This will help determine if repairs are needed and ensure the system is running efficiently. While you’re at it, change the air return filters. If the filters are clogged and dirty, the system must work harder to pull air through.
You can also save energy by upgrading lights from incandescent bulbs to LEDs. Only 10-15 percent of electricity emitted by incandescent bulbs is light – the rest comes off as heat. So, turn off unnecessary lighting.
Also, use portable or ceiling fans. In warm weather, run ceiling fans counterclockwise. Even mild air movement of 1 mph can make you feel 3-4 degrees cooler. Remember: fans cool people, not rooms, so when the room is unoccupied, the fan should be off to further cut energy use.
Unwanted heat mainly enters a house through windows, so keep the sun out by closing blinds, shades or curtains. Window coverings should be light-colored because dark colors absorb heat and do not reflect sunlight away from your house. Closing window coverings from late morning to early evening will reduce the work the air conditioner has to do to maintain a comfortable temperature.
Seal any air leaks your home might have by caulking windows and doors. Sealing air leaks can save 10- 20 percent on energy costs.
Taking a walk through your house might also help you keep your cool. As you move from room to room, take note of rooms that seem warmer than others. In those rooms, ensure nothing is blocking the vents and air return registers. Blocking those vital components of the air-cooling system can cause it to work harder and use more energy.
In the kitchen, consider using a microwave or cooking on an outdoor grill when possible. The stove or oven can raise your kitchen temperature 5-10 degrees. Use an air exhaust fan when using a stove or oven to help remove heat. But don’t run a fan longer than 15 minutes after you finish cooking, or you will be removing cool air.
Perform heat- and moisture-producing chores, such as cooking, cleaning, ironing and laundry, during the cooler morning and evening hours. This will put less stress on the air conditioner and help keep your energy costs down. You can also air-dry dishes instead of using the dishwasher’s heat drying cycle.
Also, consider hanging laundry to dry – indoors or outdoors. Not using the clothes dryer will cut down on energy use while keeping your home cooler.
As the summer heats up, look for ways to keep energy costs down while keeping your cool. Learn more about warm weather energy efficiency here.