We may not be feeling it quite yet, but the warmer weather will soon be upon us. With the spring and summer months bringing us those warmer temperatures, we will (eventually) be seeing our energy bills increasing as well. Peak energy demand is normally seen dramatically increasing during the afternoon hours of the summer months. The NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) predicts more than half the United States will have above normal temperatures over the next three months, therefore increasing the demand for energy across the nation. Below are a few tips that will help you keep your energy costs down while the weather is warming up and you’re trying to keep your home cool and comfortable.
Energy Saving Tips for Spring and Summer
1) Keep Hot Air Out by Checking for Leaks – It is imperative that the cool air created by your air conditioning (HVAC) system is kept contained. If the cooled air is able to escape through small leaks, it increases the system’s run time and the amount of energy that’s being used. You also don’t want hot air leaking into your home from the outside. Check for small holes in all of your window seals and weather stripping around your doors to make sure there are no gaps. If you do spot a crack, it can be easily filled with caulk, plus replace any weather stripping around your doors to make sure there is a good seal. Also make sure that your attic insulation is adequate to keep the hot attic air from radiating down to your living space. Remember – you’re not paying to cool the outdoors!
2) Lower Your Water Heater Costs – According to the Department of Energy, water heating accounts for about eighteen percent (18%) of your home’s energy use. Reducing this is easily accomplished by reducing your water heater temperature down to 120 degrees. This still provides adequately hot water for bathing and dishes and at the same time reduces your energy costs. You can also take shorter showers and invest in a low flow shower head.
3) Install Programmable Thermostats – A programmable thermostat will help you manage your energy usage for when the cooling system is needed most, plus takes the guess work and human error out of the mix. Always make sure that your thermostat has a fresh set of batteries. To save energy, it is recommended to set your thermostat at a warmer temperature when you are sleeping or not at home. According to energy.gov, you can save as much as ten percent (10%) a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting. By setting slightly higher temperatures for when residents are away from the home, the unit will run less and save energy. Provided the home is properly sealed (see #1), cool temperatures should be maintained long enough so that when the system is programmed to turn back on and lower the temperature, it can do so quickly and efficiently.
4) Use Ceiling Fans – Did you know that by using ceiling fans while your air conditioner is running allows you to raise the temperature by four degrees and you won’t even notice the difference? It’s true! Make sure your ceiling fan direction is set to PULL AIR UP towards the ceiling, as cooler air wants to sink while the hot air rises. Don’t forget to turn the ceiling fans off when no one is in the room to further conserve energy and decrease consumption.
5) Keep Your HVAC System Running Efficiently – Schedule an annual maintenance checkup for your HVAC system to keep it running at peak performance in the height of summer. Things you can complete yourself include: vacuuming out the air intakes and ducts, clearing away any plants or weeds that may be growing around your HVAC unit and cleaning up any standing water. Most importantly – check and change your air filter on a monthly basis! This will prevent any unnecessary stress on your equipment that can result in breakdowns as well as higher energy bills.
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