One of my childhood memories of summer is the feeling of ice cold air hitting my skin when I opened the door to my house after playing outdoors in the heat of the day. Back then I certainly didn’t worry about the energy bill, but nobody was thinking about air pollution when they cranked up the A/C either.
In today’s world, we need to factor environmental impact into all of our daily decisions. Taking the simple measures below to keep down the cost of cooling your home will also help conserve energy and prevent air pollution. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average home spends almost 20 percent of its utility bill on cooling.
Here’s how you can make a difference this summer with both your energy bill and pollution prevention:
- Change to More Efficient Light Bulbs. Change out incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient lighting choices. Energy Star qualified lighting not only uses less energy, but also produces approximately 75 percent less heat than incandescent lighting, so cooling bills will be reduced, too.
- Find the Best Thermostat Settings. For every degree you increase your thermostat above 72 degrees, you'll reduce your cooling costs by up to 3 percent. If you have a programmable thermostat, program it to work around your family’s summer schedule—set it a few degrees higher when no one is home, so your cooling system isn’t cooling an empty house.
- Use Ceiling Fans Optimally. Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze. Set them to run counter-clockwise (or downward air flow). If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. Remember that ceiling fans cool you, not the room, so when you leave the room turn off the fan.
- Maximize Shade. Close the blinds on windows facing the sun to keep the sun’s rays from overheating the interior of your home. If you can, move container trees and plants in front of sun-exposed windows to serve as shade.
- Reduce Oven Time. Use a microwave instead of an oven to cook, when you can. Ovens take longer to cook food and can make your house warmer, requiring your AC system to turn on to keep the house at a comfortable temperature. Running your clothes dryer and dishwasher at the coolest times of day can help keep the inside of your home cooler as well.
- Check Air Conditioner Filters. Check your cooling system’s air filter every month. If the filter looks dirty, change it. A good rule is to change the filter at least every three months. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make the system work harder to keep you cool—wasting energy. Also, remember to have your system serviced annually to ensure it’s running at optimum efficiency for both cost and energy savings.
- Plug Duct System Leaks. As much as 20 percent of the air moving through your home’s duct system can be lost due to leaks and poor connections. Seal duct work using mastic sealant or metal tape and insulate all the ducts that you can access (such as those in attics, crawlspaces, unfinished basements, and garages). Also, make sure that connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet floors, walls, and ceilings. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork.
- Enroll for a Greener Energy Supply. If you live in a deregulated state, you can direct your utility where to get your energy and choose a green energy supplier. While 100% green energy typically costs more than a utility’s default supplier, in some locations you have another more affordable green option. In this case, you can choose a supplier that is offering 20% more green energy than you get through the utility’s default supplier and you also save money over time on your energy bill. To see if this option is available where you live, visit www.viridian.com/greenjenine.