In many parts of the country, the summer months each year get boiling. In fact, it can be hard to imagine a time when people didn't have access to air conditioning to get through the hottest summer temperatures!
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, approximately two-thirds of homes nationwide currently have air conditioning installed. Those homes that lack air conditioning are most likely located in less-hot areas of the country.
Because air conditioning is very comfortable but also very costly, it can be a good idea to begin preparing your home for the hot summer months before they arrive. In this post, learn tips on how to reduce energy costs and improve coolness in your home this season.
If you want to cut your monthly air conditioning-related energy costs by as much as half, the hands-down best way to accomplish this is by selecting a high-efficiency air conditioner. Depending on the size and type of unit and other factors relating to your individual space, your savings could range from 20 to 50 percent during the summer months.
If you want to calculate your approximate savings through switching to a high-efficiency air conditioner, this may help:
If your energy bill is more or less than the average, you can follow the same exercise to calculate your potential savings.
In addition to re-evaluating whether your current air conditioning unit is up to the task of keeping your whole home equally cool when it heats up, there are some other timely preparations you can make to ensure the cold indoor air is retained and maximized.
If you feel like your air conditioner is not performing at the same level it did last year, chances are good it needs some simple maintenance. One of the most common reasons why air conditioners stop working as efficiently is a lack of maintenance. When your a/c unit gets clogged with dust and debris, or when parts start to wear out or break and are not replaced, your unit will draw more power and achieve less cooling. Scheduling a maintenance service call is the best way to prepare your air conditioning unit for summer efficiency.
If you can't remember the last time you changed out your air conditioner's air filter, now is probably an excellent opportunity to do so! One of the most common reasons for poor airflow is a clogged air filter. When the filter gets clogged, it is harder for the fresh, clean air to get through to distribute throughout your home.
When you repair or replace worn out weatherstripping around windows, doors, crawl spaces and other especially air leak-prone areas in your home, you keep more of the cold air inside and all that awful hot summer air outside where it belongs.
By strategically using floor and ceiling fans and other sources of ventilation, you can often get away with setting your thermostat 1 to 2 degrees higher, saving money and still staying cool. In particular, this is a nifty trick for saving some extra funds in the evening and early morning hours when you don't need as much from your air conditioner.
If you have a programmable thermostat option on your air conditioner but you haven't been using it, you may surprise yourself by how much you can save - without being uncomfortable - just by adjusting the air conditioner run times to coincide with times people are home and with hotter hours of the day. For instance, there is no sense to have your a/c blasting at maximum if no one is home - save those funds for when you are there and need to stay cool.
If you have a central air conditioner that uses an air duct system to distribute cool air, did you know the ducts can get clogged with dust, dirt and debris? This makes your a/c unit work harder to push the same amount of cool air through your home. In the same way, if your ducts are not sealed and insulated, air loss can force your air conditioner to work harder to do the same job.
If you are going to be hot anyway, let the heat be from the great outdoors and your grill rather than your oven and stove. This way you conserve energy, and your home stays nice and cool.
Choose draperies or blinds that are energy-conserving. Certain drapes and blinds repel solar heat, which prevents your home from becoming hotter in rooms where you get direct sunlight.
If your unit is more than a decade old, if it doesn't have a programmable thermostat or if it is not high efficiency, you may want to make this the year you upgrade your unit. You stand to save 20+ percent on energy efficiency improvements alone (be sure to buy an Energy Star-certified unit for the biggest efficiency gains and energy savings).
By starting your preparations now while it is still relatively cool outside, your home will be ready to maximize energy efficiency, and you will be able to look forward to a cooler, more comfortable and cost-effective summer.