Summer fun is just around the corner! Now is the perfect time to start preparing your home for warmer weather. Consider following these 10 tips to help keep your house cool and save on your energy bills this summer.
Service your air conditioner
Air conditioning (AC) units work by moving air over fins or coils that contain refrigerant. When the fins or coils get dirty, the unit doesn’t work as well and uses more energy.
Whether you have a portable unit, central AC or a ductless/mini-split, cleaning the filter, coils and fins is a great way to get your system ready for summertime. If you are tackling this yourself, always disconnect power to the unit. Central AC systems have two sets of coils, one inside and one outside. Both coils should be cleaned annually. If you hire a professional, they can check refrigerant levels during the process.
Seal your window AC unit
If you have a window or portable AC unit that vents through a window, seal the area between the window sashes. Water heater pipe insulation is a great way to seal this spot. It’s available at your local hardware store and is easy to cut for a snug fit.
Keeping your thermostat at the highest comfortable temperature will save you money. If you aren’t home during the day or have vacation plans, increase the thermostat by 8 to 10 degrees F. There’s no need to cool an empty house!
Keep your cool
Before heading to the thermostat to turn down the temperature, try using a fan, changing into lighter clothing and drinking something cool. These simple steps may be enough to make you comfortable without spending more money to cool your home. Finding the balance between comfort and savings is key.
After opening your windows at night or in the morning to let in fresh air, ensure your windows are closed and locked. Doing so reduces gaps that allow air to flow through and cause drafts. If your locks don’t form a tight fit, you may need to add weatherstripping.
Weatherstripping and curtains
Sealing and covering windows may seem like a wintertime efficiency practice, yet these help in the summer, too. Windows are typically the least-insulated surface in a room no matter the season!
Add weatherstripping to form a tight seal around the outside of the window. These seals can be found at a hardware store and are easy to install on your own. Another easy way to cool down a room is to close the curtains during the hottest times of the day to block out the sun. Blackout curtains are a thick fabric curtain option that will help keep the room cool and dark.
Take dinnertime outside to help keep your kitchen cool and your AC from working overtime to counteract kitchen appliances. Some grills have an extra side burner that makes it simple to do outdoor stovetop cooking.
While you may associate insulation with cold weather, adding insulation can keep your home more comfortable by keeping cool air in and hot air out. Insulation helps your AC use less energy to cool your home. As a general rule, if you can see the joists on the floor of your attic, you need more insulation!
Turn off gas fireplaces
Reducing the amount of heat entering your home can keep it cooler, especially if you don’t have AC. If you have a gas fireplace, the pilot light lets off a small amount of heat into the room. Consider turning the entire fireplace off during the summer months.
Add shade outside
Planting trees and shrubs strategically around your home can shade the roof, walls and pavement while reducing heat radiation to your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, tree-shaded neighborhoods can be up to 6 degrees F cooler in the daytime than treeless areas. Before buying a tree or shrub, check with your city or utility about free tree programs.
Spring is a great time to be proactive about preparing your home for warmer temperatures. Applying a few of these ideas will help keep you comfortable and provide energy savings all summer long!
Miranda Boutelle writes on energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives.