When the summer heat waves hit Hampton Roads, staying cool is the name of the game. Running your air conditioner full-blast all summer long can run-up your utility bills quickly. There are several steps that you can take to keep your home cool and efficient in the midst of the summer heat. Following are five tips to improving your home’s energy efficiency while enhancing the cooling effects of your air conditioner.
1. Keep your system well maintained
Keeping your HVAC system well-maintained will extend the life of your system, keep your system running more cleanly and energy efficient, and potentially save you money on costly repair bills. Cleaning your air filters year-round is one step in keeping your system running on all cylinders. Different air filters need to be changed at different intervals. Low cost filters have a shelf-life of 30 days while high-end filters can last up to 6 months. If you have individuals with allergy sensitivities or pets in the home, you may need to change your air filter more often than recommended. Keeping your air filter adequately changed will keep your home’s air quality clean and system running more efficiently.
Ensure that all vents and floor registers are not blocked with dust, rugs, or furniture. Items that prevent airflow in your home will cause your cooling system to work harder and reduce its efficiency.
Give your air conditioner unit a good spring cleaning. Clean and clear condenser coils surrounding your cooling system’s outside unit. Ensure that the condenser is clear of outside debris such as branches and leaves. If there are trees or bushes near the condenser keep the foliage trimmed at a minimum distance of 2 feet.
While there are several regular maintenance items that you can oversee on your own, seek an HVAC professional to give your cooling system a check-up every year. Ideally you will want your heating and cooling technician to check your system in the fall or spring before heading into the summer or winter where you will rely on your system to keep you and your family comfortable. Consider enrolling in Smith & Keene’s Signature Service Plan. With membership starting at $12 per month, you will not only have your system inspected annually, there are additional perks to Smith & Keene’s Signature Service Plan. Signature Service Plan members have access to extended service hours, priority service, no overtime fees, and 20% off of repair costs.
2. Adjust thermostat settings to run your air conditioner more efficiently
No matter which type of thermostat you have, whether it be manual, programmable, or a smart thermostat, you can wisely adjust the temperature setting to maximize energy efficiency. 78-degrees is the recommended setting for optimum cooling when you and your family are at home. The closer the indoor temperature is set to the outside temperature, the less cost in energy to cool your home. When you are away from home for extended time and when asleep, set your temperature to a higher temperature to conserve energy. The US Department of Energy claims that raising your temperature 7-10 degrees from its normal setting for 8 hours a day, can save as much as 10% a year in cooling costs.
3. Utilize fans
Whether they are ceiling fans or oscillating floor fans, utilizing fans in your home can efficiently make key spaces in your home feel cooler and more comfortable. Fans don’t reduce the temperature in a room, they disperse cooled air which provides a cool air draft, creating a wind-chill effect. According to the US Department of Energy, using fans can allow you to increase the temperature setting of your air conditioner by up to 4 degrees while maintaining the same comfort level. Be sure that the ceiling fan is rotating counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter. If you would like to install a ceiling fan in a room that presently is without, contact Smith & Keene’s expert electrician team to help with the installation.
4. Keep hot air out and cool temps in
A simple tip to keeping your home cool and efficient in the summer is keeping the cool air inside and keeping the summer heat outside. We often think about proper insulation for homes in the wintertime, but it is equally important to keep your utility bills down in the summer as well. Seal cracks around windows and doorways with caulk or proper weather stripping to keep cool temperatures inside and heat outside.
Keep the sun out by drawing curtains and blinds during peak sunny times of the day. Solar heat is great in the winter but causes your HVAC system to work harder in the summer. Planting trees or other shrubs to provide your home with natural shade can also keep the heat out and save on cooling costs.
5. Avoid heat buildup through other devices
There are many appliances in your home that radiate heat. That heat fights against your efforts to keep your home cool in the summer. The biggest heat offenders are your stove and oven, dishwasher, and clothes dryer. Make attempts to curb the usage of these appliances that produce extra heat in your home. Instead of using your stove and oven, consider grilling out or using a smaller toaster oven. Consider washing dishes by hand and allow dishes to air dry instead of using your dishwasher. Instead of using your clothes dryer, consider using a clothes line to air dry your laundry. If you must use those appliances, consider using them in the evening when temperatures are naturally cooler.
Another step you can take to reduce energy usage in the summer is to convert your traditional light bulbs to LED bulbs. LED bulbs utilize a fraction of the energy that traditional bulbs require. Additionally, LED bulbs stay cool to the touch while traditional light bulbs put out additional heat.
Following these five tips will help you keep your home cooler and more energy efficient in the summertime. If your HVAC system is aged and on its last leg, it will not efficiently cool your home. No matter of energy saving efforts will provide the efficient cooling power of a new, updated air conditioning system. Contact the expert HVAC team at Smith & Keene to evaluate your current system and make recommendations for the appropriate heating and cooling system to keep your family comfortable all year-round.