Summer is officially here, but in many parts of the country, temperatures didn’t wait for the Summer Solstice to heat up. Temps are in the upper 90s and even topping 100° has been the norm for several weeks in much of the south, and we won’t see the mercury dropping any time soon.
Surviving the summer heat means keeping your home cool and comfortable, but those summertime electric bills can be hard on your wallet. Did you know that heating or cooling your home accounts for nearly half of your home’s entire energy use? (According to the U.S. Department of Energy.)
While we can’t do anything about the sweltering heat, here are a few tips and tricks you can use to help cut costs and “chill” your energy expenses this summer.
Keep windows covered during the day. Take advantage of the morning and evening hours to let natural light in your home, but keep windows covered during the heat of the day. Blinds, drapes, shutters — any covering is better than no covering at all. Consider looking into solar screens for your windows, which are designed to intercept up to 70% of solar energy before it enters your home, thus reducing your air conditioning costs.
Use a ceiling fan. A ceiling fan helps circulate air and keep your home well-ventilated. Did you know your ceiling fan has a setting for summer and one for winter? Flip the switch located on the base of your fan to set it to run counter-clockwise, pulling air downward in the summer. The breeze created by a ceiling fan can make the air feel several degrees cooler. If you don’t have ceiling fans, a tower fan or box fan will help keep things cool and air moving.
Invest in a smart thermostat. Most thermostats are programmable, allowing you to set a schedule so your air conditioner will cool to the specified temperature at certain times of day. Smart thermostats take it a step further, allowing you to control the temperature anywhere, anytime from your mobile device. Many smart thermostats are even able to learn your schedule and habits, adjusting accordingly. Investing in a smart thermostat could save you five to 15% on your yearly heating and cooling bills.
Avoid baking or stovetop cooking on hot days. Instead, use your microwave or eat cold foods like sandwiches and salads as much as possible to avoid heating up your home from kitchen appliances. Grilling or smoking meals outdoors is a great alternative to still enjoy delicious food while keeping your home nice and cool. When you do cook, use the kitchen exhaust fan to pull hot air and steam out of the kitchen.
Keep your air conditioning unit well-maintained. Take care of your AC and it will take care of you! Remove debris from in and around your outdoor unit, level the unit so condensation drains properly. keep compressor fins clean, change the blower filter at least once every six months, and regularly inspect the evaporator coils and clean as needed. For more tips on how maintaining your air conditioner can save you money, read this. If your air conditioner is several years old, consider replacing it with a newer, more energy-efficient unit.
Monitor humidity levels and adjust your AC fan accordingly. On hot, dry days, high-speed air movement can help keep things feeling cool, but if it’s especially humid outside, you’ll want your fan to run on low. The slower speed helps remove moisture from the air making it more comfortable and less humid inside your home.
Get an energy use inspection. Request an energy inspection from your power company. During the inspection, they’ll point out any places in your home where you might be losing energy, and give you recommendations on how you can reduce your energy usage and slash your bills.
Is it time to invest in improvements to your home to make it more energy efficient? Consider a cash out refinance or renovation loan to fund your home improvement projects, such as replacing your air conditioning unit or upgrading to energy efficient windows. Contact a PrimeLending home loan expert near you for more information.