When the dog days of summer arrive and the temperature starts hovering near the triple-digit mark, many homeowners and apartment dwellers cringe inwardly as they give some thought to the utility bill that will also begin to start climbing upward along with the mercury in your thermometer. An increase in your utility bill as you crank up the air conditioning might seem unavoidable; after all, you have to stay comfortable, right? You can have more control over the dollars and cents added to your utility costs this summer, however, when you become more proactive in reducing your energy use.
There are several ways you can stay cool this summer and keep your energy consumption as low as possible, with very little added expense or effort. Some ideas may require an initial (and small) investment that will quickly pay off, while other ideas require little more than a few minutes of your time. Here are 11 simple tips to help you save money and energy this summer:
Turn off those lights and electronic gadgets when they aren't being used. Light bulbs emit heat that adds to the warmth inside your home or apartment. When the interior temperature rises, your air conditioner has to work more often to maintain the comfort level you've chosen. Reduce the use, and the wear and tear, by turning off lights and electronics that aren't being used.
Make use of ceiling fans and portable fans to circulate air. It may seem counterproductive to circulate warm air from the ceiling, where it accumulates, but the slight circulation of air around the rooms in your home will create a cooler space. You can also combine this tip with the next one to reduce your energy use even further. Remember, however, that your fans cool you, not the room itself, so turn them off when you leave the room.
Invest in an inexpensive humidifier. Moisture on your skin, when coupled with circulating air, will create a cooling sensation on your skin. A humidifier and a ceiling fan or other portable fan can provide the sensation of an indoor temperature that is several degrees lower than what is registering on your thermostat.
Raise the temperature on your thermostat. You might prefer a frosty 68 degrees for the interior temperature but, I assure you, your HVAC unit does not. Most experts recommend that you keep your thermostat set at 75-78 degrees. This will allow your air conditioner to keep you cooler than you would be if you were outside in the 100 degree sun, and it will also prevent the constant operation of the unit to maintain a cool climate inside.
Keep your blinds or shades closed during the day. If your windows are exposed to direct sunlight, this can cause a dramatic increase in the interior temperature. By keeping your window coverings closed during the hottest parts of the day, you'll be helping to reduce the interior temperature and reduce the workload on your air conditioner at the same time.
Avoid using the clothes dryer, oven, and other heat-generating appliances during the day. The use of large appliances can create a great deal of heat and humidity in your home that definitely makes you want to adjust the thermostat to a lower setting. Avoid doing so and save some energy while you're at it by using those large appliances earlier or later in the day.
Change the filter on your HVAC unit regularly. Most experts recommend that you check and/or change the filter on your heating and cooling system at least once a month. A clean and debris-free filter will ensure that your air conditioning system is operating more efficiently by reducing the amount of effort the system requires to cycle and recirculate the indoor air.
Keep your HVAC air return and vents clear of obstacles and debris. You should never place furniture, rugs, or other items over or in front of your HVAC system's air return vent or the other vents in your home. This can prevent air from freely circulating and increase the workload on your HVAC equipment.
Don't operate appliances with half-loads. Before running your dishwasher or clothes dryer, both of which add heat and humidity to the room, make sure they are full. Operating an appliance at full capacity reduces the need to operate it more often and will also eliminate unnecessary increases in the ambient temperature inside your home.
Check your windows and doors for air leaks. More often than not, one of the biggest reasons why your home experiences air loss is due to poorly sealed windows or doors. This can quickly add up to a great deal of wasted energy simply to maintain the proper temperature inside your home. You can reduce or eliminate air leaks with weather stripping, caulking, or other simple items.
Switch your incandescent light bulbs out for compact fluorescent bulbs. Not only do compact fluorescent light bulbs provide brighter, whiter light, they also use less energy than incandescent bulbs and they don't need to be replaced as often.
When you minimize your energy use, you are not only reducing your utility expenses during the summer but you are also minimizing the potential for maintenance and repairs on your air conditioning equipment. By ensuring that your equipment is operating at peak efficiency, you are likewise ensuring that it will continue to do so for as long as possible. An efficient unit is a less expensive unit, both in terms of the amount of energy expended to maintain your desired interior temperatures but also in terms of how often you'll be required to have the unit serviced or repaired. Put the helpful tips included here into play this summer and keep your cool over rising utility costs while staying cool at the same time!