If May’s warmer weather has you thinking about the sultry summer months ahead, this could be a great time to consider energy-saving options and making plans to help control your energy costs.
There’s a combination of things you can do yourself, like making slight modifications to your family’s routine that can help identify and achieve opportunities for savings while keeping your home more comfortable throughout the summer cooling season ahead.
HVAC Tune Up
When it comes to heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, spending a few dollars at the beginning of the season can add up to big savings and help you avoid expensive surprises and system failures.
A qualified service technician with the right skills and equipment will check key components like the compressor and condenser, clean the coils and inspect the ductwork. A technician may also offer advice on the how to get the most value out of your programmable thermostat.
According to experts with the ENERGY STAR® program, sealing and insulating ductwork can improve the overall efficiency of your HVAC by as much as 20%. Making sure systems are appropriately sized can also improve performance.
Consider replacing systems that are more than 10 years old (or those that no longer keep your home comfortable) with a high-efficiency system that is properly sized and designed to meet your needs.
Gain Insights from Energy Audits
Sometimes it pays to get the big picture, so when it comes to energy efficiency and getting real value for your home improvement dollars, professional advice is a good place to start.
Your local electric cooperative may be able to recommend professionally trained energy advisors who can conduct comprehensive assessments and provide recommendations that could help you control energy costs and improve comfort.
Energy audits include examination of heating, cooling and water heating equipment, as well as interior and exterior lighting. Other available services can include inspections and assessments of windows, crawl spaces and other voids for air leaks, which can degrade HVAC performance.
According to the DOE’s Energy Information Administration, a professional energy auditor will review monthly, seasonal and annual energy bills, consider household occupancy patterns, and examine condition, age and use of appliances and other electronics.
An analysis developed from the collected information can help determine a series of recommendations that, if accomplished, can produce savings. Homeowners can then decide which measures fit into their budgets or schedules as they consider improvement projects.
Small Changes Add Savings
When the goal is keeping the house cool and comfortable, remembering that any activities adding heat and humidity to your air-conditioned spaces can increase your costs.
Open doors don’t just allow people to come and go. They also provide an instant exchange of cooler inside air for warm, moist air, much the same as the cooling effect you experience when standing in front of an open refrigerator. A cooler stocked with cold drinks and chilled snacks and placed outdoors can help cut down on household traffic on hot summer days.
When cooking, consider using smaller appliances like a slow cooker – or better yet, take the extra heat from cooking outdoors and fire up the grill.
Ceiling fans operating in air-conditioned space can make you feel about 4 degrees cooler while you are in the room. But the benefits only occur when a room is occupied. Make it a habit to turn off the fan when you leave the room.
Derrill Holly writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape.