As summer draws near and the mercury rises, many of us start cranking down the air conditioning
to beat the heat. But that habit ends up burning an unnecessary hole in your wallet.
Angie’s List has more than a dozen ways to keep you cool without sweating the cost.
“The summer season is the ideal time of year to give your home a good mid-year once over,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews
on local service companies. “You’ll be happily surprised at how much you can save by taking actions that cost little more than your time and some small investments that could help save you money for years to come.”
- Check Your Insulation: Adding insulation is a simple, cost-effective way to increase your home’s energy efficiency and lower your cooling costs.
- Inspect Air Filters Monthly and Replace Dirty Ones: A clean air filter improves air quality and reduces stress on your AC unit, thus making it operate more efficiently.
- Apply Weatherstripping to Windows and Doors: Cold air can escape through cracks. Caulk around windows and doors as needed.
- Light Show: Turning lights off when you’re not in the room really will reduce energy costs – especially if you’re still using incandescent bulbs. Switching to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs will result in 75 percent less energy being used per bulb and they last about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.
- Pull the Drapes: Direct sunlight can raise room temperature as much as 20 degrees and trigger your A/C. Close the drapes when you’re away so you don’t heat an empty house.
- Reverse Ceiling Fan Blades: Switch your ceiling fan to run counterclockwise in the summer. That will push the cool air down. You can run a ceiling fan half the day for about $1.50 a month, compared to $25 for an air conditioner.
- Service Your Air Conditioner: You should have a professional inspect your air conditioning unit now. Waiting until it fails will almost certainly lead to an emergency service call and inevitably cost you more money.
- Check Your Dehumidifier: The summer season can bring high levels of humidity, which could lead to mold growth and other damage. Check your filter every month and clean or replace it as necessary.
- Is Your Refrigerator Running? Major appliances, including your refrigerator, are the No. 2 energy hog in your home. Keep the refrigerator clean and airtight for top efficiency to cut down on your electric bill. Clean the condenser coils at least annually and check door seals to ensure they’re airtight. Test your door’s seal to ensure it’s keeping the cold air in by closing the door on a thin sheet of paper. If the paper slips, your fridge is wasting energy and costing you extra money.
- Buyer’s Market: When buying new air conditioners, refrigerators or windows, buy energy-efficient versions. They’re usually more expensive but federal tax credits and competition is helping bring prices down. You’ll save in the long-term.
- Unplug Unused Electronics: Even if they’re not on, they’re still pulling and wasting energy.
- Consider a Programmable Thermostat: It will help regulate your home’s temperature so it’s cooler when you’re home and warmer when you’re not.
- Add a Tankless Water Heater: Replacing your old water heater with a new, energy-efficient tankless unit can offer significant monthly savings.
- Landscaping Can Reduce Cooling Costs: Plant trees and shrubs on the east and west sides of the house to shield the rays of the sun. Trees alone can add 3 to 7 percent to the value of your home.
- Be a Little Shady: Air conditioners with proper shading can also be more efficient. Air in a shaded space is cooler than the surrounding air meaning the A/C will have an easier time cooling the air. Keep plants, shrubs, and other landscaping about two to four feet away from your outdoor unit to ensure adequate airflow.
- Unplug That Dryer: Consider hanging clothes outside to dry. A summer breeze can be just as effective as a dryer can.
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