The U.S. Department of Energy reports that heating and cooling make up 43% of the total utility bill for the average homeowner. After the winter we had, you probably won’t hear anyone complaining about the heat – but you may hear friends and neighbors complaining about the air conditioning bill! Here are seven easy ways to reduce your summer cooling costs:
- Plant shade trees – Trees or leafy shrubs that shade your windows keep direct sunlight from pouring in and heating up the house you’re trying so hard to cool. If you can plant a shade tree that covers your air conditioning unit, you’ll save even more.
- Install solar screens – Solar screens are made of mesh that keeps 70% of heat and direct sunlight out while giving you almost total transparency. You can close blinds and curtains during the heat of the day and it will help keep your house cool, but solar screens provide the same blocking effect without making you feel like you’re hiding in a cave in the middle of the day.
- Install a programmable thermostat – While you’re home, it’s fine to lower the temperature in order to stay cool in hot weather, but there’s no reason to keep your house at 72 degrees if you’re at work all day. Programmable thermostats allow you to set your thermostat to fit your daily and weekly routine once so you don’t have to keep punching buttons before you leave the house, when you come home from work or before you go to bed.
- Use fans – Before the days of air conditioning, houses were designed so that window and door placement took advantage of cross-breezes and encouraged air to circulate throughout the entire house. Box fans are cheap and extremely effective at helping you stay cool. Unless it’s intolerably hot outside, open the windows and plug in box fans. Place them strategically so they keep air moving throughout the entire house.
- Get low – If there is a room or floor in your house that stays naturally cool, consider relocating bedrooms, your home office or play rooms there for the summer. If you have a basement you’ve probably noticed it’s likely to stay at a cool, constant temperature through the hot months.
- Minimize appliance use – Summer is the perfect time to give the oven and stovetop a rest. Grill in backyard and assemble cold salads and you’ll keep your oven and air conditioner from competing. Clothes dryers can also heat up a house. Take advantage of the summer sun and dry your clothes on a line or on an old fashioned drying rack on the porch.
- Open the vents – It’s a myth that shutting a vent to an unused room or in a cold spot will reduce utility bills. It can actually raise your bill because the HVAC has to work harder to evenly cool the house. Make sure all the vents in your home are open. While you’re at it, check on your air filter to see if it’s time to replace it.