Warmer weather gets us thinking about being outside and enjoying the sunshine. But, we may also wonder how high our electricity bills will be when we’re cooling off inside. If you’re looking to cut your cooling costs without sacrificing your family’s comfort this spring, check out these savings tips.
1. Use Those Ceiling Fans: Ceiling fans are a great alternative to minimize the use of your AC unit. Cooling your home with ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat by roughly four degrees, which can reduce your energy bill by up to 30 percent. However, remember to reverse the direction of those fans to rotate counter-clockwise so it pushes cool air downwards. You’ll find a tiny switch located on the fan’s base which allows you to redirect its normal rotation. Also, don’t forget to turn off fans when you’re not in the room since fans cool people, not rooms.
2. Update Your Windows: During the spring and summer months, direct sunlight can significantly warm up your home. If you have older single-pane windows, your home may not be well-insulated against the heat. A simple fix is to replace those windows with new, double-paned windows that are much more efficient and have an ENERGY STAR label. Installing curtains or shades is another great way to update the look and efficiency of your windows. Consider investing in some insulated, thermal-backed drapes. Keep them closed during the hottest part of the day to block out the sun and keep your room cooler.
3. Check Seals Around Your Windows and Doors: Letting hot air into your home due to gaps around your windows and doors might be costing you more than you expect. Sealing any leaks or drafts in your home can save you between five and thirty percent per year in energy costs. Sealing these leaks is a simple process. All you need is some caulk or weather-stripping materials and you can block unwanted airflow in a snap.
There are many different types of caulking compounds available but the most popular choice is silicone. Silicone caulk is waterproof, flexible and won’t shrink or crack. Before applying new caulk, clean and remove any old caulk or paint with a putty knife. The area should be completely dry before you apply the new caulk. Apply it in one continuous stream, and make sure it sticks to both sides of the crack or seam. Afterwards, use a putty knife to smooth out the caulk and wipe the surface with a dry cloth.
Weather-stripping is just as simple to install. Before applying new weather-stripping, clean the moulding with water and soap and let the area dry completely. Measure each side of the door or window, then cut the stripping to fit each section. Make sure it fits snugly against both surfaces so it compresses when closed.
4. Check Your Insulation Levels: A well-sealed home, coupled with the right amount of insulation can make a real difference on utility bills. Adding insulation coupled with sealing leaks as mentioned above, can save up to ten percent on your annual energy bill. Insulation helps keep your home cool in the spring and summer and prevents pollen, dust and insects from entering your home, not to mention, better humidity control. A quick way to see if you need more insulation is to look across your uncovered attic floor. If your insulation is level with or below the attic floor joists, you probably need to add more. The recommended level for most attics is R-38 (or about 12-15 inches, depending on the insulation type).
5. Tune Up Your AC: Savings begin with a well-maintained cooling system. Change your air filters monthly, check for obstructions around your outdoor compressor unit and schedule regular maintenance for your equipment. This will prolong the life of your unit and increase its efficiency.
Operating your thermostat efficiently is also very important. Set your thermostat to a temperature your family finds comfortable and that provides humidity control, if needed. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. WFEC recommends a setting of 78 degrees during summer months. Keep your house warmer than normal while you are away. Installing a programmable thermostat allows you to do this automatically without sacrificing comfort.
When you gear up for spring cleaning this year, don’t miss the opportunity to increase your home’s efficiency while you’re at it. Did you know that the more dust that gathers in your home, the less efficient electronics run? If you have vents or computers, dust can cause overheating. Make sure to check and clean the clothes dryer outside exhaust vent and clean refrigerator coils to prevent electrical fires and improve the appliance’s efficiency. Check for accumulated dirt on your window and door tracks – dirty tracks can ruin their seals and create gaps where air can escape.
Remember, an energy-efficient home will keep you comfortable while you save money. Whether you take small steps or make larger investments to make your home more efficient, you’ll see lower energy bills. Over time, those savings will typically pay for the cost of improvements. As your energy partner, we are here to help you find ways to stretch your energy budget.