Spring is here!

Spring is here!

Spring has arrived.  The flowers are budding forth with vibrant blooms.  The trees are blooming and adorning their bare boughs with green leaves.  Soon we will be cranking up the AC units.  But before we get into the heat of summer you may want to see what you can do to keep your summer cooling bills as low as possible.

Spring is a good time to open the windows early in the morning letting out the stale air and bring in the fresh outdoor breezes.  This is one of the tricks I used to keep our house cool during the summer before we got an AC unit.

  1. Service your air conditioner.  Easy maintenance such as routinely replacing or cleaning air filters can lower your cooling system’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent. It is a good time to have your unit checked by your AC man.  He will check for leaks, freon levels, and many other parts that should be cared for by a professional. Check for leaks in your ducts.  At the same time make sure the insulation around your ducts tight and has no gaps. You might want to get your vents and ducts cleaned, especially if they haven’t been cleaned in the past couple of years. 

2. Install operable window treatments. Windows enlarge a room and add cheer to our lives.  They are, also, a source of heat exchange. About 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through windows. In cooling seasons, about 76% of the sunlight that falls on standard double-pane windows enters to become heat.  Operable window coverings give you the flexibility to choose whether to keep your window coverings open or closed for privacy, and to maximize natural light, take advantage of heat from the sun in the winter, and reduce heat gain in the summer. Options include shades, blinds, draperies or curtains, and some shutters. In another article, I will discuss the pros and cons of various types of window treatments.

3. Use your ceiling fans. Cooling your home with ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat several degrees without sacrificing comfort. The cooling effect of the moving air on your skin will feel about 80 degrees cooler.  This could save you up to 40% of your air conditioning costs.

4. Caulk air leaks. Before the weather gets too hot is a good time to seal leaks around doors, windows, and any perforation in your home.  Weather, excess heat or extreme cold, wear away our weather stripping and caulk.  Sealing these while the weather is pleasant will keep the hot summer air out and money in your wallet. This is a good time to seal the opening to your attic, especially if it is in the living portion of your home.

5. Set your thermostat at a higher setting when your not home.  I usually set my thermostat at 800 when I will be gone for the day.  It is still much cooler than 1000 outside.  When I return home I turn the thermostat down to 780 for the evening.   Later, as I prepare to retire, the thermostat is set at the cool comfortable sleeping temperature.  A  programmable thermostat is best for this.

6. Turn on bathroom fans to transport heat and humidity out of your home.  This will help improve the comfort of your home.

7. Cook outdoors.  This keeps the heat out of your home while enjoying the health benefits of being outdoors.  We often eat outside during the warmer weather.

8.  Now is a good time to plant trees and shrubs that didn’t get planted last fall.  A well-designed landscape can save you up to 25% of your cooling costs while increasing your enjoyment of your yard.