Does Hot Weather Have to Equal High Bills?

Hot weather doesn’t have to mean skyrocketing power bills and nonstop air conditioning. Here are some tips to help you maximize your summer comfort while maintaining energy efficiency.
By: Sheila Morrison
 
Oct. 5, 2009 - PRLog -- It’s Summer

Hot weather doesn’t have to mean skyrocketing power bills and nonstop air conditioning. Here are some tips to help you maximize your summer comfort while maintaining energy efficiency.

Your home doesn’t need to feel arctic it simply needs to be a comfortable living space. Avoid using your AC when you don’t really need it.  After all, if it’s under 75 degrees out, it shouldn’t be running.  Set it at a reasonable temperature when it’s operating. HVAC experts suggest 78 degrees as an ideal level to ensure comfort without wasting power.

Don’t underestimate the power of a fan. Whether you use a room or ceiling fan, it will consume far less energy than an air conditioner. A fan stirs cool air around a room, and the breeze on your skin can let you stay comfortable while relying less on the AC - or even skipping it altogether.

How to Make Your AC’s Job Easier

Summer heat is enough of a challenge for an air conditioner – don’t make it work even harder than it has to. Have your unit maintained regularly by a pro to make sure it’s operating at its peak efficiency. And you can do your part too, by regularly cleaning or replacing the air filter. A clean filter means less air resistance for the unit, and better air quality in your home.

Don’t Cool Empty Rooms

It might seem obvious but this one gets overlooked all too often: Turn off the air conditioning when you leave home. If you must have a cool house waiting for you when you return, try a timed thermostat instead of running the AC all day. Remember that turning the unit to its coldest setting won’t cool your house any faster, set it at 78 and be patient. While you’re at home, close the doors and vents in unused rooms, and consider using a portable air conditioner to only cool the living space you’re actually using.

Fuel to The Fire

Be aware of unnecessary heat sources around the house that compete with your air conditioner such as incandescent light bulbs. The reason they use so much power is that only a fraction of the electricity they consume is used for light, while the rest gets wasted in the form of heat your air conditioner must then cool down. That’s another reason to switch to compact fluorescent bulbs, or the more efficient LED lights. Another common foe of your AC are long, hot showers that raise the surrounding air temperature inside the home, and add humidity to the air, which makes it feel even warmer.  Try shorter, cooler showers.  You’ll feel cooler too.

Other appliances can be tough for an AC to work against. Avoid using your dishwasher, oven, and clothes drier at peak heat times of the day, and use settings that minimize their heat output and energy usage. For example, disable the air-dry function on your dishwasher, and lower the temperature on your clothes drier – or even better, use a simple clothesline to let your clothes dry in the breeze.

Ironically, your refrigerator can be one of the biggest heat sources in the home. Use a thermometer inside the refrigerator and freezer to make sure the temperature stays at ideal levels. Going colder just wastes electricity and creates more wasted heat in the kitchen. Older models are especially inefficient, look for the EnergyStar rating when purchasing new.

Made in the Shade

Shade is natural air conditioning that doesn’t cost a penny. Low-e windows are great for keeping heat out of the house, but a simple window shade or tinting will do the job too. Shade trees can dramatically reduce interior temperatures when planted on the south and west sides of your home. Lawn vegetation has the added advantage of evaportative cooling.

Keep direct sunlight out of your windows and locate AC units in the shade.  Air conditioners that are in the sun all day have to work harder to cool the air that passes through. Also make sure that any screens or nearby plants don’t interfere with airflow to the unit.

What’s Up

In every home the roof and attic can be your best friend when it comes to keeping the heat outside and cutting energy consumption. Consider roofing materials and colors that efficiently reflect heat from the sun’s rays, remember that light reflects light and heat and dark absorbs. The best use of your roof will be to provide solar power. Ensure that your roofline and attic are well sealed and insulated.  Use an exhaust fan to draw collected heat out of your home

Looking For a New AC

If you’re considering a new air conditioner, it’s worth investing in an energy efficient model. They use less power, which means less pollution and lower energy bills for you. New residential evaporative cooling models use the same principle as skyscraper cooling towers and can be extremely efficient. They’re especially worth considering for residents of hot, dry climates. Although they may be more expensive initially, many high-efficiency models qualify for tax credits and possibly rebates from local utility providers.  Many utility companies will allow you to finance through them at a lower normal rate. Energy Star models are available everywhere, remember the higher the SEER/EER score, the better. Please ensure that your model uses a non-flourocarbon refrigerant.

Everyone has better places to spend their money than power bills and summer is hot enough without reduce-able pollution adding to global warming. Be smart about keeping cool in the summertime, it’s a win-win scenario for everybody.

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Page Updated Last on: Oct 06, 2009
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