Tips for a Cooler Home This Summer

Tips for a Cooler Home This Summer

Have you been watching your energy costs rise with the July temperatures? No need to sweat about it; here are some inexpensive ways to keep your home cooler and save money.

The right setting:

Do you have a programmable thermostat? If not, it'€™s an inexpensive investment. Keep it set above 78 degrees to save approximately 6% on cooling costs with each degree above that mark. If you'€™re used to a cooler setting, gradually raise it every few days to let your family adjust. If you know you'€™ll be leaving the house for more than an hour, set the thermostat to 85 or higher. It takes less energy to cool the house back down than to keep it running while you'€™re gone.

We'€™re a fan of fans!

A traditional fan, which costs two to five cents per hour to operate, will make a room feel 4 to 6 degrees cooler. It'€™s also great partner for your air conditioner, which dehumidifies the air that the fan then circulates. Fans keep the cool night-time air moving through the house when you turn the air conditioner off.

Consider installing ceiling fans in frequently used rooms. You can even purchase a motion-detector switch for around $20 to keep the fan moving only when the room is occupied. Another option, described in more detail below, is to install a whole-house fan. This is a bigger project, but well worth it!

Windows

Sun shining through your windows accounts for around 20% of the summer heat entering your home. Lower the blinds or close dark curtains over your windows during daylight hours, and open those windows wide when the temperature drops at night. Outside of your house, awnings, patio covers and trees provide shade to reduce solar heat.

When you plant shade trees, remember that south-facing windows get a lot of sun. East-facing windows get direct sun in the morning and west-facing ones get the hotter and stronger sun in the afternoon and evening. So if you'€™d like a few curtains open for light, pick the windows that get the least direct sun during those parts of the day.

Air leaks commonly occur around windows and doors. If you can rattle a window, it'€™s leaking. Seal it with weather stripping. Energy-efficient windows also help keep the heat out and the cool air in. Ask the experts at New Exteriors to see if window replacement is a good option for your home.

Need a good excuse to grill? Cooking indoors can raise the temperature 10 degrees so cook during the cooler hours of the day or better yet, fire up that grill! Think about eating cold meals like sandwiches and salads to avoid turning on the stove, or use your microwave which uses 2/3 less energy than a stove.

Other large appliances can also raise the temp indoors so run the dishwasher or drier at night (or consider hand-washing dishes and using a clothesline!) Turn off any electrical item you aren'€™t using. Computers and TVs especially generate unnecessary heat.

Search for (and seal) air leaks.

Summer'€™s hot, humid air follows the same route as your winter drafts. Grab a flashlight, exterior-rated silicone caulk and a couple cans of expanding foam insulation, then track down and seal all leaks. Concentrate on the attic, basement and crawl space; pay close attention to anything that passes through a ceiling or wall, like ductwork, electrical or plumbing conduits, and vents. Leaky ducts account for 25% of cooling costs in an average home.

Tackling the Big Stuff

The easy, inexpensive tips listed above can save you money, but investing in these larger projects will save you even more over time.

  • Install a whole-house fan in your attic. It will draw cool air into your home through the windows and blow hot air out through attic vents. Whole-house fans cost between $150 and $400 with additional installation costs. The investment is worth it '€” whole-house fans only cost one to five cents an hour to run!
  • Invest in a new air conditioning unit. If yours is on the way out or more than 10 years old, replacing it with an Energy Star rated unit can save you about 20% on cooling costs.
  • Updating your insulation can cut your heating/cooling energy usage around 20% (for both heating and cooling), depending on your city'€™s climate. If your home was built more than 20 or 30 years ago, your insulation is probably not as effective as modern products. Quality insulation is one of your best energy investments.
  • Roofing shingles. An earlier blog this month discussed energy saving options for your roof. If you notice your roof needs replacing, this is a great chance to make your roof an energy saver instead of an energy leak. Contact New Exteriors for a free estimate!
  • Energy efficient windows greatly reduce solar heat entering through your window glass, and reduce air leakage around the framing. The quality product lines offered by New Exteriors include the best energy efficient glass packages available, up to an R-10.

We hope these tips help you and your family enjoy a cooler home (and smaller energy bills) this summer and into future years!

Sources

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,218939,00.html

http://www.webmd.com/health-ehome-9/green-home-cooling-tips

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