Is the summer heat beginning to get to you? Before you crank up your air conditioner, try some of these tips to keep your house cool this summer without breaking the bank.
Go with the flow. If there’s a breeze outside, open a window to get the air circulating, or turn on the ceiling or portable fan, and the circulating air will make you feel three or four degrees cooler.
Be sure your ceiling fan is set for summer, with the higher edge leading, so it will push air downward.
Putting water-soaked pads or towels in front of portable fans is another way to cool things down in low-humidity areas.
Remember to turn off fans when you leave the room, since air movement isn’t really cooling the room, it is just making it feel cooler for the occupants.
Made in the shade. If your air conditioner is outside, construct shade to keep the sun off the unit and it will take less energy for it to operate. Keep your unit operating at top efficiency by changing air filters monthly during the high-usage summer months.
Pull the blinds. Close curtains on the south- and west-facing windows during the heat of the day, and install light-colored blinds or drapes to reflect heat away from your house.
Awnings work wonders to shade south-facing windows, and so does sun-protective reflecting film on the windows.
Close your fireplace damper so the cool air doesn’t escape up the flue. And close doors to keep cool air trapped inside.
Turn off heat-generating devices. Turn off lights and lamps when you leave the room, and move all lamps away from the thermostat so they don’t trigger it to turn on.
Plug TVs, VCRs and other devices into a power strip that you turn off when not in use, so they don’t generate needless heat.
Replace the rest of your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent ones that produce the same light for a fifth of the energy and heat.
Take a break from cooking. Your oven and range generate a lot of heat, so use the microwave oven as much as possible, and grill your food outside on these long summer evenings rather than cooking it in the oven. That’s what summer-time is all about!
Plan for the long haul. Increase efficiency by adding insulation around air conditioning ducts and installing weather-stripping and caulking to keep the cool air in during the summer.
If your air conditioner is old, replace it with a modern unit that will be up to twice as efficient as your old one.
When replacing the roof, consider using light-colored shingles to reduce heat absorption. And painting your house in light colors will help as well.
If you are ready to go solar, Uncle Sam is there to help with energy tax credits for the installation of solar equipment. Those tax credits can trim your tax bill by 30% of the cost of equipment installed this year.