Frying an egg on a car’s hood is a fun summer science project with the kids. Having a home that feels the same temperature is less exciting, however, especially if you’re trying to save energy. Use these handy tricks to bid farewell to the stuffy heat without blowing up your carbon footprint or your energy bills.
Minimize Unwanted Sunlight
Opening your window to a lovely summer morning is one thing. Keeping it open while the sun spreads heat and bleaches your carpet is something else altogether. There are several options available to keep those rays out of your face.
For a start, keep the windows closed while they face the sun to preserve a cooler feeling in the areas surrounding them. Planting a tree can add shade and value to your home over time. For the short-term, think about installing an exterior awning to provide that necessary shade without completely blocking your view. You could also buy window treatments, such as a shade or curtains, that can reflect the sun out of the home.
Block Heat Gain
Heat gain is the process through which heat passes through the walls to the interior of your home. You want to slow that down as much as possible, so you do not have to use as much energy to keep cool. Here are a few ways to make that happen.
- Better Windows: Your windows tend to be one of the most energy inefficient parts of your home’s exterior. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to minimize heat gain through your windows. If you are planning to buy new windows in the near future, consider getting models that are at least double-paned. If not, you can put a low-E film on your existing or new windows that helps to block non-solar heat gain summer.
- More Insulation: Besides your windows, the insulation in your home is what keeps the hot air out to the fullest extent available. The better your insulation, the longer you get to enjoy that sweet, cooled air. As insulation can settle or become damaged over time, ask your HVAC technician to inspect it and see whether you need more if it has been awhile since you had it evaluated. It costs fairly little and improves your resale value as well.
- Solving Air Leaks: Leaks throughout your home allow the warmer air to creep inside. Drafts make it harder for your insulation to work effectively and can also affect your indoor air quality. Seal all the air leaks around windows and doors and keep them closed during the hottest part of the day. You will notice a more comfortable home.
Avoid Generating Excess Heat
If you run a lot of heat-generating appliances at the same time, your air conditioner must work harder to cool off the house, and your energy efficiency will not be nearly as good. Everybody needs to cook, clean and wash clothes, but you can choose when you do it during the day. Wake up a little early to throw a load of clothes in the dryer. Prepare items to bake before you go to bed, so you can put them in the oven while it is still cool outside. Run the dishwasher after you go to bed, so you have clean dishes (and a cooler house) in the morning.
Of course, a big part of your attempt to increase energy efficiency should sit with your cooling system itself. Upgrade to a programmable thermostat with settings you can pick easily and then forget about. Create thermostat settings that are designed to help you cool down, not freeze you solid. If you are thinking about getting a new air conditioner, ask an HVAC professional about the most efficient systems that are right for your home. You may pay a bit more for greater efficiency, but it will pay off over time in lower energy consumption and a cut in your utility bills.
Use Multiple Cooling Methods
Your air conditioner was never meant to serve as the only way to stay cool during the summer. If you look at it as one important piece of the puzzle, you can use the system more appropriately. Encourage the whole family to wear light clothing on hot days and grab a cold drink or a frozen treat when they really want to chill out. Install and use a ceiling fan correctly. When turning in a counterclockwise direction, a ceiling fan can help you to feel cooler in a room with less energy consumption.
Once it gets really disgustingly hot, you might do anything to get cool. Before you become desperate, take some of these steps to improve your energy efficiency.