Over 40 percent of the electricity used in today's homes is devoted towards heating and cooling. That means how well you keep your home cool has an impact on your energy bill. If you're looking for ways to save energy and save your wallet some grief at the same time, here are 5 great tips you can use to stay cool while curtailing your home's energy consumption:
Set the Thermostat Back at Night
With cooler temperatures come opportunities to give your air conditioner a rest. You can use this opportunity to set your thermostat back by several degrees to conserve energy and reduce overall wear and tear on your A/C system.
If you have a programmable thermostat, you can program it to set the thermostat back several degrees during times when you're least likely to need your A/C, such as while you're away from home and when you're asleep. If you don't have a programmable thermostat, now is a good time to consider installing one for your A/C system.
Switch to Energy-Efficient Lighting
Did you know that approximately 90 percent of the energy consumed by a typical incandescent bulb winds up wasted as heat? While this excess heat may be welcome during the winter, it's the last thing your home needs during the summer.
Switching to energy-efficient bulbs such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) can help keep your home cool and save you money on your energy bills. Not only do these light bulbs last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, but they also use 25 to 80 percent less energy. The DOE also notes that while the average cost of a single 60-watt incandescent bulb is $4.80, a similar 12-watt LED only costs $1.00 per year to operate.
Keep Your A/C Unit in Great Shape
Maintenance is essential when it comes to getting the most out of your air conditioner. It's a good idea to have a trained HVAC technician perform comprehensive maintenance on your A/C system before spring. This gives you enough time to have repairs completed before those hot summer days arrive.
Some of the things your HVAC technician will do in the course of inspecting and maintaining your A/C include changing the air filter, checking refrigerant levels, inspecting and cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils, checking the compressor and replacing any components that are worn, defective or damaged.
If it's been more than 15 years since you've installed your current A/C system, you may want to think about having your technician replace it with a modern, energy-efficient unit. Older A/C units tend to become less efficient and often require more maintenance as time goes on.
Don't Forget About Your Fans
Ceiling fans can do wonders for making your home feel cooler and more comfortable without the need for more air conditioning. When properly used, ceiling fans generate a wind chill effect that makes the air feel cooler than it actually is. This gives you the opportunity to set your thermostat back by several degrees without sacrificing overall comfort. It also helps that ceiling fans use a fraction of the energy typically consumed by a central A/C unit.
Try Portable A/C Units
If you only have a small space to keep cool, it doesn't make much sense to run your main A/C system for the entire home. Instead, you can save energy by using a portable A/C unit to cool off those small spaces. Unlike window-mounted air conditioners, portable A/C units can move with you from room to room. The only downside is that the condensate that accumulates during use must be manually emptied from time to time.
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