Don't Let Your A/C Bill Decimate Your Budget
Summer utility bills often wreak havoc with the average homeowner’s finances; don’t let your A/C bill decimate your budget. The energy efficiency of most homes can be improved; and while major modifications may be costly, there are some that are both simple and inexpensive.
Here are 12 tips to keep your cool while paying less:
- Use heat generating appliances wisely. Ovens, clothes dryers, and dishwashers place lots of stress on A/C systems. Use them sparingly, and as much as possible, in the late evening or early morning. Turn off the “heated dry” setting on dishwasher and allow dishes to air dry. On the stove, use the smallest eye practical.
- Close the blinds or drapes, especially when you’re away from home. Pay particular attention to those that receive direct sunlight.
- Use ceiling fans. Moving air feels cooler on the body. Fans allow you to raise the thermostat and still feel comfortable.
- Adjust A/C registers. Single system homes will generally benefit from putting the greatest amount of air in those areas that most stress the system. Air supply to those rooms that are rarely used can be limited while forcing more air into needed areas. (Confirm this with your A/C technician to make certain you are not reducing the air supply so much that is out of balance with the return air or that it burdens the system’s blower.)
- Have your HVAC system checked by a professional at the beginning of each season. A clean and well-maintained system will function more efficiently and provide extra years of service. And a system that is slightly low on refrigerant can cost much more to operate.
- Change furnace filters. One of the most neglected items in a home, the furnace filter not only maintains a healthy indoor environment, it can dramatically impact the efficiency of an A/C system and its operating costs. Change yours according to the manufacturer’s recommendation for the type filter you use.
- Plant trees. While most trees will take years to significantly impact indoor comfort; not planting them just means that the benefits will never come. Well-placed trees positively impact the environment and add to the value of a home when sold.
- Have a home energy audit. Homeowners who are unfamiliar with the results of an energy audit are often surprised to learn just how much energy their home is wasting. A professional energy audit will show you where improvements are needed.
- Increase attic insulation. Almost all homes will benefit from additional attic insulation, and for many it’s an easy “do-it-yourself” task. Insulation needs vary depending upon your climate. Use this CHART from the U.S. Department of Energy to help determine your needs.
- Minimize leaks around doors and windows. Proper caulking around doors and windows can reduce infiltration and lower energy costs. And such maintenance will have a corresponding effect in the winter.
- Use the outdoor grill. Outdoor grills are not just for BBQ, and using them for certain cooking tasks can help reduce indoor temperatures.
- Switch to LED or fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent or LED lighting not only consumes less energy, they generate less heat when operating. Changing out bulbs or fixtures can reduce the energy usage and place less strain on A/C systems.