Summertime means fun activities like swimming, cookouts and vacations. It can also mean higher electric bills if you run the air-conditioning continuously. Keep your house comfortable while avoiding smoking-hot energy bills with these heat-reduction tips.
Beat the heat inside and out.
Admittedly, it’s easier to get by with little or no air-conditioning in Northern climates than in the South. Yet no matter where you live, a cooler house starts with keeping heat out of the home.
- Begin with your landscape. Plant shade trees along the south and west sides of the house. Deciduous trees that leaf out in the growing season provide shade in the hottest months and drop their leaves in the fall so that the sun can warm the house in winter. A trellis with climbing vines positioned on the south and west sides of the house also keeps the sun’s heat away.
- Installing a radiant barrier on the underside of the roof decking greatly reduces attic heat, which can work its way into the living areas below. Adding insulation to the attic completes this protection. Inspect your ductwork to ensure that no air-conditioning is leaking into the attic.
- Lined curtains and shutter blinds, closed during the heat of the day, repel the sunlight. Low-emissivity, or “low-E,” glass windows reflect outside heat in the summer and retain inside heat during the winter. If your windows aren’t made of low-E glass, consider applying a heat-reflecting film to them.
Use inside appliances thoughtfully.
You can also manage heat sources inside the house.
- Use the stove and oven less often, and limit their use to early morning before the heat of the day. Instead, prepare meals with the microwave and outside grill.
- Replace old appliances with new, more energy-efficient ones. You’ll save energy and generate less inside heat. Replacing an old air-conditioning unit will save on your energy bills over time because of advances in efficiency.
- Turn off the power to computers and televisions when not in use, since they generate heat even in standby mode.
- Ceiling fans are a major asset in keeping both temperatures and air-conditioning costs down. In summer, the blades should spin in the direction that blows air down, generally counter-clockwise as you look up at the fan. Ceiling fans use less energy than running the air-conditioner.
- Your air-conditioning thermostat should be set between 72 and 78 degrees to accommodate most people’s comfort without sky-high bills.
Other helpful tips to lower energy bills.
- Replace old-style incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs, which use less electricity and generate virtually no heat.
- Light paint colors, both inside and out, reflect heat away.
- In the early morning and evening, throw open windows on opposite sides of the house. The cross-ventilation will help cool your house.
- Check out Energy.gov for more energy saver information.