Cranking up the air conditioner not only depletes the efficiency of the machine but dramatically boosts your electric bill, too. As you look for ways to beat the heat this summer, here are some quick and easy ways to keep your house cool and keep your costs low.
Reduce and reflect sunlight
Reflecting sunlight can make a sizeable difference when it comes to keeping your house cool. Since sunshine contains ultraviolet radiation and infrared heat that quickly travels through windows, it’s important to reflect that as much of that light away from your home as possible. Here are a few ideas:
- Close your drapes. Even mesh shades installed over the outside of your windows can block sunlight.
- Add exterior shades and awnings. Although these refurbishments require a bit of an investment, properly designed awnings can even stay up all winter.
- Go green with trees and shrubs. Foliage placed in the right spots will allow sunlight in during the winter and block sunlight during the summer.
Insulate outlets and switches
Here’s the problem: thin plastic plates aren’t enough to prevent air from leaking through interior and exterior walls. Luckily, it’s an easy and affordable fix. Pre-cut foam gaskets cost around 10 cents at a home store, and can save you up to 20 percent in energy use. Simply remove the screws from the outlet, fit the gasket over the opening and replace the cover.
Caulk doors and windows
Air leakage wastes as much as 30 percent of the energy used in our homes, with doors and windows being one of the most significant areas of loss. Although insulation is an upfront investment, it will pay for itself quite quickly since it will save you money all year long. Run a bead of caulk along interior and exterior doors and windows to create a seal, minimize airflow and keep your home as cool as possible.
Regularly program your thermostat
Most AC units can be set to a certain temperature while you’re home, asleep or away. A tip of advice: do not maintain a super-cool home when nobody’s there! Programmable thermostats save tons of energy by automatically regulating your home, so you don’t have to worry about your temperature (or your bill) skyrocketing. You can save as much money as 10 percent per year on your bill by simply setting your thermostat back at least 10 percent for eight hours.
Keep up with general maintenance
It may seem like common sense, but routinely keeping up with air conditioner maintenance can help prolong the life of the device and save you money in the long run. Add the following to your maintenance checklist:
- Clean condenser coils. Dirty coils can reduce your system’s ability to cool your home, causing the system to run longer.
- Change your air filters. According to EnergyStar, airflow problems can reduce efficiency by as much as 15 percent.
- Check your refrigerant levels. Too much (or too little) can cause the unit to work less efficiently.
Before you give in to blasting your energy-burning AC, reflect on these cost-effective, easy-to-implement practices to keep your bills down and your home cool – all summer long.
How do you keep your home cool for the summer?
This guest post was provided by John C. Flood. John C. Flood is a group of trained professionals providing the finest in plumbing, heating, cooling and electric throughout Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Join John C. Flood on Facebook and Twitter.