Summer Cooling and Air Conditioning Advice from EPA and Energy Star
Great Ways to Beat the Heat and Save Some Bucks!
The average American home spends about 20 percent of its total utility bill on cooling and air conditioning, yet with some simple, inexpensive changes it’s possible to save money and make your home more environmentally friendly while staying cool and comfortable. Here are some simple cooling and air conditioning tips from the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Star that will cost you no or little money.
No Cost Cooling and Air Conditioning Options
Program your thermostat according to your summer activities. If you spend most of the day away from home, set your cooling system a few degrees higher than normal when the house is empty. You can then set the thermostat to a lower temperature shortly before you return home. Using a programmable thermostat properly can save nearly $200 a year on energy costs.
Check the filter on your home’s HVAC system once a month. If the air filter appears dirty or worn, change it. The filter should be changed at least once every three months anyway. A dirty filter inhibits air flow, forcing your system to work harder and driving up utility costs.
If you have ceiling fans, use them along with your air conditioner to create a cool breeze. Running a ceiling fan makes it possible to raise the thermostat—just two degrees higher can lower energy costs by as much as 14 percent. Don’t forget to turn the fans off when you leave the room, though.
Close curtains, blinds, and shades against the sun’s powerful rays. Blocking out the sun during the heat of the day can prevent the interior of your home from overheating. You can also try moving indoor plants and trees in front of windows to create shade.
Low Cost Cooling and Air Conditioning Options
Have your cooling system inspected by a professional once a year. Hiring a technician to clean and service your unit regularly will cost significantly less than replacing or repairing a neglected unit that has become damaged.
Change incandescent light bulbs for more energy-efficient options, like compact fluorescents (CFLs). Look for the Energy Star label to identify lighting that uses less energy and emits 75 percent less heat than traditional bulbs. This can help lower your cooling bill.
Make sure air ducts are sealed tightly using mastic sealant or metal tape. Insulate ducts in attics, crawlspaces, basements, and garages, too. About 20 percent of the cool air moving inside your home is lost through gaps and loosened connections in ductwork.
Check vent and register connections at walls, floors, and ceilings to ensure that all the ducts are fastened and sealed tight.
Other Cooling and Air Conditioning Considerations
If you’re in the market for a new air conditioner, look for the EPA’s Energy Star label. We could keep about 900 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions out of the air every year if each single room air conditioner in the country was Energy Star rated.
Insulate your attic. If every American household did it we could save more than $1.8 billion in energy costs every year.
Replace an air conditioning unit that’s more than 12 years old with an Energy Star rated system; you could cut your cooling costs by as much as 30 percent.