AIR CONDITIONING ACCOUNTS FOR MORE THAN HALF THE ENERGY USE IN U.S. HOMES
By Andrea Woroch
Americans are feeling the heat in their electricity bills. Unfortunately, this sizzling financial sensation isn’t expected to cool down any time soon as meteorologists anticipate above-average temperatures for most of the country this season. Considering that air conditioning accounts for more than half of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, consumers can expect above-average bills this summer, too. Luckily, there are some ways you can cool down while minimizing energy costs. Just follow these tips.
Draw the Blinds
Remembering to close your blinds everyday can seem like a pain, but the task is worth it: room temperatures can rise as much as 20 percent as a result of direct sunlight. South-facing windows are the primary culprits of temperature increases, so you might consider investing in window film if you have large windows. This is a good idea for those of us living with especially high temperatures during the summer months.
Reduce appliance use
Heat generated by your oven, dishwasher and clothing dryer can increase the overall temperature in your home. Try to prepare the majority of your meals on the grill, stovetop or microwave, and consider air-drying your dishes during especially hot spells. You can also hang-dry your clothes, which will not only save electricity costs but also extend the longevity of your wardrobe. While these actions may seem dramatic, they can help reduce cooling costs while keeping your home comfortable!
Buy a programmable thermostat
According to heating and cooling experts, setting your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher can cut cooling costs up to 6 percent. If you’d rather have your home cooler, however, a programmable thermostat is the next best option. It’s common sense to use your air conditioner only when you’re at home to enjoy it, but too often homeowners become complacent and leave their air conditioner running constantly. A programmable thermostat takes the hassle out of constantly fiddling with temperatures and reduces your overall utility cost.
Use fans and A/C
Though it may seem counterintuitive, using both fans and your air conditioner at the same time can reduce energy costs while keeping you cool. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, people who use ceiling fans can increase their thermostat by four degrees and feel little difference in temperature. While fans are incredibly helpful in keeping you cool, they should only be used when there are people in the rooms to enjoy them.
Install exterior blinds
While most homeowners have interior blinds, exterior blinds are actually more effective in mitigating the sun’s rays because they block them before they enter the home. Since exterior blinds are typically custom jobs that require some investment, consider installing them only on south and west-facing windows and search for coupons to offset costs. In addition to online retailers specializing in blinds, department stores like JCPenney also offer deals on interior and exterior blinds, like up to 25 percent off your purchase with
a JCPenney coupon from sites like CouponSherpa.com.
Give your A/C some TLC
One easy way to cut cooling costs this summer is to maintain your air conditioning system. This includes scheduling maintenance checks annually, checking the air filter once a month and replacing it when necessary. Avoid placing household items that generate heat such as lamps and TV sets near your thermostat, as doing so causes your air conditioner to operate longer than necessary. Taking simple steps like these can prevent high energy bills!
Patch up leaks
If your home doesn’t feel as cool as it should based on how often you run your air conditioner, it’s possible the seams around your doors and windows need to be resealed. To test the quality of your existing seals, look closely at the seams and notice any gaps between your home’s siding and the window or door frames. If you observe a lot of sunlight seeping in under door frames or window frames, this is also a sign that your weather stripping needs to be replaced. This task will also help prep your house for the cold winter months when you want to keep cool air out!
Smart landscaping is essential to keeping long-term energy costs low. Shading your house with trees will prevent direct sunlight from entering through windows and doors, which is a prime cause for heat entering your home. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that planting at least three trees around your house can save between $100 and $250 annually in energy costs. This strategy takes time to yield results as most consumers can’t afford to plant large trees in their yards, but it’s always good to keep this tip in mind when planning your landscape!
Andrea Woroch is a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice. As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Consumer Reports, Forbes and many more. In addition, Andrea’s stories have been published among leading publications and sites such as Yahoo!, AOL Daily Finance, CNN Money, Huffington Post, LearnVest and New York Daily News. Check out Andrea’s demo reel or visit her website at AndreaWoroch.com for more information. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook for daily money tips.
Category: Home Improvement