Consumer Tips: Save Money on Your Summer Home Cooling Costs
Pay less to cool your home during the heat of summer—it's easier than you think!
Summer is here and the mercury is rising! With just a little bit of work and these tips from NCCC, you can save some serious cash this summer on your home cooling bills.
- Set your thermostat just a little bit higher.
- For your whole-house fan, use the 'auto' setting instead of 'on' for power savings of up to $15 per month.
- Have your central air conditioning system serviced each spring.
- Prune back shrubs and remove debris from around your outside heat exchanger unit.
- Seal and insulate leaky ductwork.
- Clean or replace air conditioner and furnace filters once a month or as needed.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
- Landscaping can provide natural shade for your home.
- Open your foundation vents each spring.
- If it's time for a new air conditioning unit, considering making an ENERGY STAR purchase.
- Don't close off too many rooms in your house.
- When remodeling, consider replacing single-pane windows with double-pane windows with high-performance glass.
- Consider adding additional insulation to your home.
- Allow ceiling fans to shoulder some of the cooling work.
For every degree over 78 degrees you set your thermostat in the summer, you can save between six and eight percent.
With the fan on, you're pushing air through the ductwork in the attic or crawlspace and through unconditioned space. It will either heat up or cool down slightly while passing through, meaning your system will kick in more often to keep the temperature constant.
And don't be fooled into thinking that the filter is cleaning your air more than it really is! On average, a majority of the dust and other particles in the air will settle within two minutes, so your whole house fan really isn't doing too much. If that's a concern, run a vacuum over the area for some quick pick-up.
Servicing the unit will improve efficiency and can help prevent catastrophic failures caused by lack of maintenance. Think of it it like changing the oil in your car!
Good airflow is required to keep the unit running smoothly. It is true that a hot air conditioning unit works harder than a cool unit, but please resist the temptation to build a shelter or shade around your unit to block the sun. These things rarely improve the system and seriously hamper air circulation. Building a new home? Spend a few extra dollars to move put the unit on the north side of the home instead of the south side and you can really see some lower bills.
This helps ensure that the airflow distribution system serving your equipment will operate at peak efficiency. Compare it trying to suck water from a glass through a straw with tiny holes in it.
A restricted filter can drastically reduce efficiency and air quality. Dirty filters can increase operating costs by 20 percent or more and make it harder for the system to do its job.
You can save money by keeping your house warmer than normal when you're out and at 78 degrees when you're home.
Well-placed trees and shrubs also add value to your property.
Close them in the fall if your home has a crawl space.
ENERGY STAR units cost more on average, but generally repay their added cost quickly in energy savings. Avoid units with Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratings (SEER) levels under 12. It's usually well worth the investment to buy a more efficient unit due to the tremendous energy savings that these offer. They do cost more up front, but they often pay back the cost within five years or less, depending upon how you use the system. Many even qualify for tax credits.
Heating and cooling units work best with airflow.
In warmer climates, select windows with selective coatings to reduce heat gain.
Insulation can be blown into walls or layered in the attic or crawlspace areas. Doing so can create a thicker blanket for your home. Attic insulation is by far one of the best defenses you can have against heat loss and gain. R-19 or higher is recommended. Insulation is also a tax-deductible expense.
Ceiling fans circulate air, which helps rooms feel cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter by almost three degrees.
Have a safe and cool summer!