Things You Can Do to Keep Cool This Summer
...IT'S NOT ALL TECHNICAL!
Between pool parties, backyard cookouts, and baseball games – summertime definitely has a lot going for it. Although, when the mercury climbs up into the high 90s with oppressive humidity on top of that, you might find yourself not wanting to do much of anything except lounge around at home with the air conditioning cranked up to the max. The unfortunate catch, however, is that cool relief comes with a hefty price tag. According to ENERGY STAR, the average household’s summer energy costs clock in at about $400 – and half of that is spent on air conditioning alone!
At Technical Hot and Cold, we know that the balancing act of staying cool in the summertime and keeping your electric bill at a manageable level can be super frustrating – but you don’t have to go it alone! Here are our expert tips on how to beat the heat without breaking the bank!
1. INSULATE, INSULATE, INSULATE
While there’s not a whole lot you can do about the temperature outside, there are several things you can do to keep the heat out of your home. First and foremost is making sure that your home is properly insulated, which both prevents hot air from entering your home and cool air from escaping – resulting in less money spent running your A/C and more time enjoying the relief of a cool, comfortable home. Where should you start? Read on below!
Seal Air Leaks Around Doors and Windows – The most common places that hot air finds its way inside are through cracks or holes around windows and doors. Fortunately, these can easily be sealed with caulk or weather-stripping in just a couple of hours, all while costing you less than $30. By doing this, you can reduce your energy bill by as much as 5-10%.
Upgrade Your Windows – When it comes to how much heat your home gains, your windows account for about 10-25% of it, especially if they’re a bit up there in age. Compared to older windows which typically only have one pane of glass, newer windows have two or three with a layer of insulating gas sandwiched in between. Additionally, they also tend to have better insulated frames.
Insulate Your Attic or Crawlspace – Of all the places in your home that are the most prone to inviting in the heat, your attic or crawlspace is right at the top (no pun intended). Temperatures in these areas can reach oven-like levels in the summertime, and all that stored heat is dispersed throughout your living area. By adding insulation up there, you can cut down your summer energy costs by as much as 40%.
Keep Windows Shut – Even if its hotter outside than it is inside, you should always keep your windows closed while your air conditioner is running during the day. Once things have cooled down in the evening, open them up for some fresh cool air and give your system a break.
2. SHADE YOUR WINDOWS
When the sun comes pouring through your windows in the middle of a summer morning or afternoon, it heats up the interior of your home just like a greenhouse – increasing the temperature of any room by around 10-20 degrees. Luckily for you, the same window treatments that you use for privacy such as curtains, blinds, shutters, and shades can help to keep things cool!
The important thing to remember is that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. If you plan to be home the whole day, darken all east-facing windows in the morning, and all west-facing windows in the late afternoon to avoid heat from the sun. If you’re going to be out and about, just close up all of the shades and blinds until you get back.
3. ABSORB LESS HEAT
Your windows aren’t the only part of your home that can absorb heat, pretty much any sunlight exposed surface is fair game! In order to keep heat outdoors and maintain the cool air you want indoors, try the following tips:
Give Your Walls a Light-Colored Coat of Paint – Ever been told that you shouldn’t wear black on a hot, sunny day? This is because dark colors are sponges for heat, and the same concept applies to the walls of your house as it does to your clothes. By giving them a fresh coat of light-colored paint, you can lessen the amount of heat they absorb, and significantly offset your summer cooling costs.
Get a Reflective Roof – If you happen to be in the market for a new roof, look into a “cool roof”. Made of special reflective materials and coatings, a cool roof blocks out the sun’s rays, and generally stay about 50 degrees cooler compared to traditional, dark-colored roofs.
Plant Shade Trees and Plants – Trees not only provide shade to cool the area around them, they also move and release water vapor through their leaves. In fact, the temperature directly underneath a tree can typically be about 25 degrees cooler than the air above a fully sun-exposed area! If you don’t have the room for a tree, other plants such as shrubs or climbing vines can be strategically placed around your home such as in front of windows and over walls; providing the same benefit.
4. CREATE LESS HEAT INDOORS
No matter how much you try to block out the external summer heat, your home will never get as cool as you’d like if you don’t manage the amount of heat you generate indoors. Here are a couple of things to try:
Don’t Use the Stove or Oven – When you use your stove or oven to cook when it’s hot outside, you send your air conditioner into overtime to cool down the space. Instead, try using cooking appliances that don’t create a ton of heat like a microwave or toaster oven. Or why not fire up the grill? It is summer, after all!
Run Appliances at Night – Other household appliances, such as dishwashers and clothing dryers, generate a lot more heat than you realize. In order to give your A/C a break, try to do the dishes or laundry in the evening or night when the air outside is cooler. Alternatively, you can skip the drying cycle altogether on both by using a drying rack or a clothesline!
Vent Your Shower – Regardless of how hot it is outside, there are many people who prefer a hot shower to start the day. If this sounds like you, make sure you turn on the bathroom fan to ventilate all of that steam, which helps to prevent your home from getting hot and humid.
Unplug Electronics – Even when they’re turned off, your household gadgets including computers, TVs, and stereos still generate tiny bit of heat that quickly adds up. Unplug each of them when not in use or use a power strip that you can switch off.
Make the Switch to Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs – More than 80% of the electricity that the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs use is turned into heat rather than light. Energy-efficient alternatives such as compact fluorescent or LED bulbs save you a ton on electricity and keep your home cooler in the process!
5. MAKE SURE YOUR A/C SYSTEM IS RUNNING EFFICIENTLY
There are some days when turning on the air conditioning is necessary, especially when the heat and humidity are particularly oppressive. Don’t sweat it though! You can still save yourself money by ensuring that your system is running as efficiently as possible when you absolutely have to use it. The best part? You can perform many of these tasks on your own!
Get a Programmable Thermostat – If you’re not going to be home, you certainly don’t want to come back to ungodly temperatures, but then you also don’t want to leave your AC running all day. At Technical Hot and Cold, we recommend a programmable thermostat to solve this dilemma. Our team of technicians is always at the ready to answer any questions you have, and even show you how to have the thermostat shut off your AC when you aren’t there or keep one steady temperature throughout the day. Give us a call at (734) 326-3900 today!
Make Sure Your Ducts Are Sealed – Does your home use a forced-air system? If so, you could be losing as much as 30% cooled air to leaky holes in your ductwork. At Technical Hot and Cold, we can come out to your home, perform a full inspection of your ductwork, and repair any damage we find to ensure that your AC system is sending cool air exactly where it belongs – in your living area!
Clean Your Air Filter and Coils – When it comes to the efficiency of your AC system, it’s all about the airflow. When your air filter and coils are caked up with dust, grass, dirt, and other nasty stuff, it chokes off the flow of air from your AC system to the area being cooled; causing it to work harder and costing you more money in the process. By simply changing your air filter or hosing off your outdoor unit, you can reduce your energy costs by as much as 5-15%!
Reducing your cooling needs provides you with a host of benefits. Not only will it cut down on your energy usage, directly minimizing your electric bill, but it will also make your home eco-friendlier - helping you to reduce your carbon footprint. Not sure if your AC system is efficient on its own? The knowledgeable and friendly technicians at Technical Hot and Cold can optimize the performance of your cooling equipment through our quality maintenance and installation solutions. Schedule an appointment with us by calling (734) 326-3900!