As unusually hot as it has been so far this summer, your latest electricity bill probably gave you quite a shock. Naturally, when inside, you want to run your air conditioning so you can stay cool. However, keeping the AC on all day, and relying on it to make your home comfortable, is a significant factor in your high energy bill.
We want to help you beat the heat, and we have some useful tips for saving energy – and money! – while also keeping your home cool this summer. Here are our top six ways to make your home more efficiently deal with the heat.
Set your thermostat properly
When the temperature rises outside, it’s time for your AC to do its job inside. When you do run your air conditioner, make sure your thermostat is adjusted to make sure you can stay cool and comfortable while also helping you save money. A programmable thermostat allows you to tailor your AC’s runtimes to fit your at-home and away times, and with some, you can even control your settings remotely, letting you optimize when the system runs.
On sweltering days, your central air system will have to work harder than usual to cool the air inside your home. To reduce costs, set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature, but also to a temperature inside that is somewhat close to the temperature outside. Why? Because the closer these two temperatures are, the easier it will be for your system to maintain the temperature it’s set to.
The US Department of Energy recommends a thermostat setting of 78° for an ideal balance of efficiency and comfort. This may seem a bit too warm, but it’ll still be considerably better than the unbearable temperatures outside. If you’re looking to cool your home off without adjusting your thermostat, try our next tip – using fans to make the inside of your home feel cooler than it is.
Use fans to move the inside air
Floor and ceiling and fans are an easy and very economical way to make your home more comfortable – with or without turning on the air conditioning. A fan can make the room feel up to 4° cooler than the ambient temperature inside your home. That might not sound like much cooling, but a fan’s refreshing breeze is always welcome.
If you do feel compelled to turn on the air conditioning, don’t forget that you can use a fan in conjunction with the AC to improve efficiency! Your AC helps remove the humidity in the air and cools it, while your fans help distribute the newly-cooled air for even more refreshing relief.
Install window blinds
As the sun rises, and its glorious sunlight starts to fill your home, it’s a welcome start to the day. But when afternoon comes, with nothing covering your windows to block the sunlight, that same light can bake the interior of your home like an oven.
By closing your curtains (or installing them if you don’t have curtains already), you can significantly reduce the temperatures inside your home. You can even find curtains that provide UV and added thermal protection to lower the temperature while also protecting you and your home from the sun’s harmful rays. Even low-cost curtains have been proven to reduce heat gain by as much as 33%.
If your home has blinds only, their horizontal slats do let some light and heat pass through. Being able to adjust blinds does provide a unique advantage, however. If you have light-colored ceilings, you can angle your blinds so that the incoming light is reflected towards the ceiling, where it’s less likely to heat up your home. Reflective blinds will reduce heat gain by roughly 45% when closed completely.
Use energy-efficient lights and bulbs
Traditional incandescent bulbs are not as energy efficient as newer LED models, and they also produce much more heat while in use. Keeping multiple lights on throughout the day gives your AC one more thing it has to contend with, reducing its efficiency.
The greater heat produced also means the lifespan of an incandescent bulb is much shorter and an LED bulb. So, while traditional bulbs may be cheaper initially, they’ll need to be replaced more often and will result in higher energy costs over time. Upgrade your bulbs with LED or fluorescent lighting, and you’ll save on your energy bill, and your light fixtures will also help you beat the summer heat.
Open your windows
In many areas, you’re fortunate enough to have cooler evenings, regardless of how hot it gets during the day. Take advantage of the cooler temperatures by opening your windows at night and letting the cooler air flow into your home. You won’t have to run your central air 24/7, and the outside air will be much fresher than what has been circulating inside your closed home.
Avoid hot appliances
A simple way to beat the summer heat is to save recipes that require your oven or stove top for the winter. Running appliances like your oven, or even your clothes dryer, will introduce heat into your home. Depending on the size of your home, this heat won’t dissipate quickly, and this will drive up the temperature inside.
While you probably will still need to use these appliances on occasion, it’s a good idea to use them in the evenings when it’s cooler or use them sparingly. Running larger loads of laundry also helps as you can get more clothes clean and dry in one cycle versus running multiple smaller loads, and often save yourself time in the process. Just don’t overload your machines, or you could cause a whole other set of problems!