Saving Energy In Summer
Summer is usually mild in Columbia County, but we can expect to have a few uncomfortably hot days and nights. Follow these tips to keep cool and comfortable while keeping your home energy costs to a minimum:
Free Ways to Keep Cool:
- Turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms.
- Turn off or unplug unnecessary electronics.
- Dress for the weather. Wear lightweight, loose fitting clothing on hot days to help keep cool.
- Drink plenty of cold liquids to stay hydrated.
- Beat the heat by blocking it. On a hot day, keep windows, doors, blinds, and curtains closed to keep cool air in and the hot sun out. Open them when it cools down to let breezes through.
- Use your kitchen and bathroom fans after cooking and bathing to remove hot steam from the air.
- Cook more meals in your microwave. It is quicker, more energy efficient, and heats the food instead of your house. Outside BBQs are a fun way to cook outside.
- Run your dishwasher at night, especially if you choose to air dry dishes, so that steam doesn’t fill your kitchen.
- Dry laundry on a clothesline. Your house will stay cooler, and your energy bills will be lower.
Low-Cost Ways to Keep Cool:
- Use fans instead of A/C. Fans increase air movement, which can make you feel up to 5 degrees cooler, while using less energy. A fan won’t cool your room so turn it off when you leave to save energy.
- Cover your windows with white or light colored blinds or shades, which will reflect heat instead of absorbing it. In a pinch, even a white sheet will do.
- Install roll-up bamboo blinds outside of windows that receive the hottest sunlight. Blocking the sun from the outside is more effective than blocking it from the inside.
- Insulate and weather-strip your attic access cover. Install a latch to hold the cover tight and reduce air leaks. The air in the attic can be stifling on a hot day.
Investments That Are Worth It:
- Shade your air conditioner, and make sure it has good airflow on all sides.
- Add insulation to improve comfort. If your house is poorly insulated, adding insulation will keep you warmer in winter, cooler in summer and lower your energy bills. See our rebates for insulation upgrades.
- Keep attic vents clear and attic fans functioning properly. Good attic ventilation keeps your house cooler.
- Install awnings or plant deciduous trees or vines to shade south and west windows.
- Go ductless. If you are thinking of buying an air conditioner and you have zonal electric heat such as baseboards, wall heaters, or ceiling cables, install a ductless heating and cooling system. These units provide summer air conditioning without the need for a window unit and provide winter heat at the fraction of the cost most zonal systems. See our rebates for ductless heating and cooling.
- Inspect and seal your ducts. If you have a central air-conditioning system, make sure any ducts located in unconditioned areas (especially in a hot attic) are sealed and insulated. Have a PTCS certified contractor inspect and service your system to ensure that it is operating efficiently.
- Seal air leaks in your home to reduce the amount of energy needed to cool it. Before installing insulation in your ceiling and floors, be sure to seal any air leaks there, such as plumbing and electrical penetrations.
- Invest in a ceiling fan to use less energy while keeping cool.
- Avoid portable air conditioners, they are sometimes expensive to run and are not as portable as you might think. If you must, buy a model with the dual hose configuration and a unit that is properly sized for the space in which it will be used. A unit that is too large will cycle on and off, resulting in uncomfortable temperature fluctuations and lower efficiencies.
Central Air Conditioning:
- Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher to save energy.
- Consider a heat pump if you’re building a new home or considering changes to your central heating and cooling system. Heat pumps are the most cost-effective way you can heat and cool your home. See our rebates for air source and ground source heat pumps.
- Have a qualified contractor inspect and service your system to ensure it is operating efficiently.
- Clean or replace your A/C filters monthly to keep your system operating efficiently.
- Keep your supply vents open and unobstructed so the air can circulate freely.
- Have your duct system tested for leaks and repaired if necessary.
Window Air Conditioning:
- Go ductless. If you have zonal electric heat such as baseboards, wall heaters or ceiling cables, consider upgrading to a ductless heating and cooling system. These units provide winter heat at a fraction of the cost of electric resistance heat, and provide summer air conditioning without the need for a window unit.
- If you use a window unit, make sure it’s properly sized. Too small won’t cool effectively; too large will use too much energy.
- Buy an ENERGY STAR® qualified window A/C.
- Use a fan with your A/C to move more air throughout the house. Using a fan with your A/C might also let you set the A/C at a higher temperature, saving energy.
- When using A/C, close all windows and exterior doors. The A/C does not bring air into a home from the outside, so there’s no need to give it a way out.