To make your home comfortable in the summer you have several options ranging from simply opening windows to installing a central air conditioning system.
- Install insulation: Installing insulation is generally one of the best things you can do to reduce your home’s cooling costs. That’s because up to 20% of your home’s air conditioning can be lost to the great outdoors. If you plan to insulate your home, check with your local utility for the recommended insulation levels.
- Do your homework: Important factors to consider when shopping for a new air conditioner are: size of the area that needs to be cooled, climate, your home’s construction, sun exposure, wiring, insulation, and the number and location of windows. Once you have this information you should consider all the types available and determine which will cool your home for the lowest cost. The SEER rating on the EnergyGuide label can also help you. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio-all new central air conditioners have a minimum SEER rating of 10. Consider buying a high efficiency model with a SEER rating of 11 or higher. (A SEER of 16 can save up to 40% on your cooling costs.) Whole house fans, evaporative coolers, heat pumps, room air conditioners, and central air conditioning systems all have their pros and cons, so do a little research before buying.
- Shade your house: Use landscaping, awnings, and overhangs to provide shade around the outside of your home. A shaded house is easier to cool than one in direct sunlight. There are even white reflective roof paints available that can reduce air conditioning costs.
- Set and leave it: The best temperature for your air conditioner’s thermostat is 78°F or higher. If you don’t want to come home to a hot house, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat.
- Use fans instead: A central air conditioning system can use up to 24 kilowatt day based on 8-hours of use . In contrast, a fan (ceiling or portable) may use 1 kilowatt hour per day to operate. That’s an approximate savings of up to 95% on those days when a fan will do the trick.
- Turn it off: If you plan to leave for a few minutes or more, turn your fan off. Running it while you’re not there is a definite energy waster.
- Maintain it: Proper maintenance helps your air conditioner run more efficiently. Replace disposable filters or clean permanent filters every few months during the cooling season. It’s a good idea to have your entire system checked on a yearly basis by a qualified air conditioning contractor.
- Clean the coils: Clean the outside condenser coils with diluted detergent and rinse thoroughly at the beginning and the end of the air conditioning season.
- Watch those windows: During the cooler morning and evening hours, open your windows and use the outside air to cool your home. During the heat of the day, close the draperies and blinds to keep the warm sun out. Consider installing reflective films or solar shade screens on windows with the greatest exposure to the summer sun (this can help keep your furniture and carpet from fading too).
- Keep it as cool as possible: Install your air conditioner out of the direct sunlight.
- Keep vents clear: An obstructed vent wastes both energy and money.
- Keep it in: First, keep your doors and windows closed when you have the air conditioner on. Second, weatherstrip and caulk your doors and windows to seal in cool air.