If you’re a Minnesota native, or spend your summers in our land of ten thousand lakes you’re probably no stranger to the summer climate. Temperatures can often fluctuate and temps as well as humidity can produce sauna- like conditions outside. With heating and cooling costs accounting for more than half of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, it makes sense to look for ways to reduce those costs whenever possible. In this post, we will explore 6 ways you can keep your cooling costs down while the heat index rises this summer.
Nature is your friend! Shade from trees can reduce surrounding air temperatures by as much s 9 degrees F. In order to maximize this effect plant trees with high, spreading crowns on the south side of your home. Trees with lower crowns should be planted to the west where shade is needed in the afternoon. A 6-8 foot tree planted near your home will begin to shade windows in the first year depending on the home.
Another great investment is a good set of blinds for the windows in your home. White mini-blinds can be especially useful as they decrease the amount of heat gained from the sun by 40-50%. Additionally any kind of shading you can provide for the exterior of your home, like an awning for instance, the cooler your home will be
2. Air Conditioner Maintenance
Regular AC maintenance is a great way to maximize the efficiency of your AC unit while saving you money on your energy costs as well. Energy Star provides a great Maintenance Checklist to help prevent problems and reduce unwanted costs. A typical maintenance check should include the following:
- Check Thermostat Settings
- Tighten Electrical Connections
- Lubricate All Moving Parts
- Inspect Condensate Drain
- Check Controls
As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to have your AC checked in the spring and again in the fall.
3. Seal, Seal, Seal!
Air ducts, vents, windows, and doors all need to be properly sealed to keep any hot, humid air from leaking in. Any carefully installed product, such as caulk or weather stripping, will help keep the air your AC system cooled down inside your house, where you need it to be. This sealing will also help keep the heat in during winter months, making it very useful and cost-effective all year long. Lowe’s has easy step-by-step instructions on how to weather strip and seal areas all around your home.
4. Thermostats and Fans: A Perfect Pair
Utilizing your thermostat properly can really help to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home during warm summer months. Keep your house warmer than normal by maintaining a setting of 78 degrees while away at work, or running errands for a few hours. Additionally, utilize ceiling and floor fans to improve the circulation of the air in the home – this manufactured breeze will keep your home feeling cool and can also help take and direct the hot air out of the house when windows are open.
5. Know When to Open and Close Windows
Keeping windows sealed during the hottest parts of the day is vital to maintaining cool this summer. Open windows early in the morning and again in the evening to maximize ventilation. These are also better times to do activities that produce heat in the house, such as laundry or cooking.
6. Only Cooling the Rooms You Use
One of the easiest things you can do is close the vents in the rooms that aren’t being used. This prevents you from using more energy than you really need, and this also means that you will save money.