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How To Improve Energy Efficiency This Summer
Did you know that air conditioning accounts for nearly half the energy your home uses during the summer – more than any other appliance or system? The good news, if you’re a conscientious energy user, is that there are ways to chip away at that number.
Here are seven energy-saving tips to get you started.
Check air filters regularly – Check your filters about once a month, cleaning or replacing them (depending on the model) as needed. A clogged air filter can reduce A/C efficiency by 10 to 15 percent, and will eventually lead to unnecessary wear and tear on your equipment.
Inspect your ductwork – Look for obvious air leaks in visible ducts, especially around seals between sections. Just remember: most of your ductwork is behind the walls, so consider a professional duct inspection about once every five years.
Keep reasonable temperatures – With a central air conditioner, every degree you drop your thermostat below 75 degrees could cause you to use three to five percent more energy. The good news is that the reverse is also true. For the best balance of comfort and economy, shoot for a summertime indoor temperature of about 78 degrees. Use your programmable or smart thermostat to adjust temperatures when you’re sleeping or out of the house, too.
Re-think your window treatments – About 75 percent of the energy from sunlight that enters you home is retained as heat. In the hot summer months, consider hanging window treatments that reflect rather than absorb light and heat (for more efficiency tips using window treatments, see the U.S. Department of Energy website).
Keep air moving – Airflow is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of energy efficiency – it helps keep you feeling cooling while also keeping humidity under control. Keep air moving throughout your home by:
Making sure that vents in rooms you’re using are open and not blocked by furniture, rugs or drapes.
Installing an attic ventilator fan to draw cool air throughout the house.
Supplementing your air conditioning with ceiling fans (moving air feels cooler, so you’ll be able to keep temperatures a little warmer with no loss in comfort).
Maintain your equipment – Your cooling equipment will lose about five percent efficiency every year that it’s not serviced – which means that professional cooling maintenance will basically pay for itself in lower cooling bills alone. It will also help keep your A/C running more reliably.
Upgrade older equipment – Big box stores may seem like they’re giving you a good deal, but a qualified home cooling technician will do the little things that will help your system deliver value – and better performance – year after year. They’ll also know the ins and outs on tax credits, incentives, and manufacturer’s rebates, so they’ll be able to steer you in the direction of better deals on ENERGY STAR®-certified equipment. Look for HVAC pros that offer in-person evaluations – not just formulas – if you want to get the most energy bang for your buck.