Summer is officially upon us, and with it comes the heat and humidity we know all too well here in Baltimore. Staying cool when the temperatures are hot can be a costly proposition, but there are a few tips we’d like to share so you don’t have to break the bank.
º Blow hot air: By having a fan simply move the air around the house, you’ll actually feel cooler. Running ceiling fans counter-clockwise, especially in elevated levels in the house, creates an upward draft, bringing the cool air up to help better circulate the efforts of your air conditioner.
º 78° Rule: We’ve all heard it before - 78° is the magic number. By keeping your thermostat set at 78°, your home will be comfortable and you won’t overwork your air conditioning unit.
º Close blinds: By keeping the sunlight out, the rooms won’t heat as quickly and the temperature will remain more stable.
º Don’t cool unused space: While this may seem intuitive, if you have unused space, there’s no need to keep it at 78°. Close the air ducts in unused rooms and gain efficiency and comfort in rooms you do use.
º Plant trees: Planting trees to help block the summer sun will not only keep the sunlight from coming in through the windows, it will also keep the exterior of your house cool, which means heat won’t penetrate through the walls. As an added bonus, when autumn comes around, the leaves will fall which will allow the sun to once again brighten your day and heat the house during the winter.
º Air filter: Perhaps the simplest and most inexpensive tip is to replace your air filter every three months. Allowing air to flow freely will reduce the energy required to run your air conditioning system. On top of that, the air you’ll breath will be clean, crisp, and refreshing.
º HVAC service: You should have your air conditioning system maintenance performed annually. By sealing leaks, cleaning ducts, and checking refrigerant levels you can see significant improvements in efficiency and reduction in cost.
º Programmable thermostat: While the 78° rule still applies, if you’re not home during the day or if you can stand it a bit warmer at night, using a programmable thermostat can really impact the bottom line.
º Consistency: While programmable thermostats are good because they create only slight variations in the temperature difference, turning the air conditioning on and off repetitively is not. When your system is on, you’re not only cooling the air, you’re cooling the walls, ceilings, floors and everything in-between. It takes a long time to cool all things solid but once they’re cool, they help keep the air cool too.
If you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns with regards to your air conditioning unit, it might make sense to upgrade. By installing an Energy Star system, you may qualify for Energy Star tax credits, and you’ll most certainly decrease the cost to cool your home during the summer. If your system breaks unexpectedly or you need help financing this upgrade, consider using the equity in your home by obtaining a home equity loan or line of credit.
For more energy saving tips, see Spring Forward with These 5 Energy Saving Tips.
If you’ve decided to beat the heat by getting out of town, be sure read Traveling Tips: keep the costs low and the fun level high.