Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and costs more money than any other system in your home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Those costs typically account for about 48% of your utility bill. While an upgraded, energy-efficient system will help shave a nice chunk off of your bills, a whole-house approach is best when trying to cool down your A/C costs this spring and summer.
Dust Off Your Fans
There is no need to spend money on high-dollar fans; the key is to get air circulating properly inside your home. Place box fans or turn on ceiling fans in your upper level and open a window(s) on a lower level, preferably on your home's windward side, to draw moving air throughout your house.
Set Your Thermostat Economically
Setting your A/C's thermostat to 78ºF instead of 72ºF could shave as much as 18% off of your summer cooling costs. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests using a programmable thermostat to increase temperature while you're out and after you've gone to bed.
Improve Your Shaded Landscape
The heat that accumulates in your home is usually from the sun shining directly onto your roof or through your windows. Trees properly placed around your home can reduce A/C needs by 30%. If you plant shade trees or shrubs by your air conditioning unit, you could boost your A/C's efficiency up to 10%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Avoid Daytime Heat Buildup
Try to limit the use of heat-generating appliances, such as your oven, dishwasher and dryer, until the sun has set. Washing dishes by hand, using the microwave and hang-drying clothes can reduce the amount of overtime your A/C needs to put in.
Treat Your Windows
Closing your curtains, blinds or shades during the daytime will significantly reduce your cooling costs. When completely closed and lowered on a sunny window, reflective blinds can deflect heat by up to 45%. If you're really committed to keeping costs low:
- Opt for lighter hued window treatments. Insulated curtains will also help reduce heating costs in the wintertime.
- Hang window treatments as close as possible to the windowpane to keep outdoor heat from radiating inside.
- Invest in solar screens (especially on east- and west-facing windows), which can intercept up to 70% of solar energy before it gets into your home.
- Apply window film, which can also reject solar-energy, provide window tint and protect against ultraviolet damage.
Head to the Basement
We all know heat rises, so if you have a basement, make it your indoor respite this summer. Just make sure you don't open any lower level windows on days with high humidity. Moisture will accumulate on cool basement surfaces and cause your home to feel warmer than it actually is.
Maintain Your A/C
Just like your vehicle, your air conditioning unit requires tune-ups every now and again. Have your HVAC professional stop by to check the efficiency of your unit and make any repairs necessary. You'd rather pay small repair bills over time than a whole unit replacement.
You also need to stay on top of air filter cleaning or replacement, which can lower energy consumption by up to 5-15%.
Invest in Your Duct Work
According to Energy Star, about 20 to 30 percent of forced air moving through your duct system is lost through duct work leaks. Have your HVAC specialist take a look at your duct system to see if your high energy bills have anything to do with lost forced air.
For more tips on how to make your home energy- and cost-efficient, follow us on Pinterest. Is your home in need of major heating and cooling repairs? Check out our Rehab & Construction Guide which highlights options available for financing your home improvement costs into your mortgage loan.