If you're like most homeowners, you're looking forward to the carefree days of summer. However, you're probably also aware that rising utility costs have been chipping away at the classic carefree atmosphere of the season. Fortunately, there are ways to keep air conditioning costs down without sweltering all summer long. Following are eight of them.
Don't Cook Indoors
Ovens and stovetops generate significant amounts of heat, and this causes your AC system to work even harder. Besides, it gives you a perfect excuse to spend your summer evenings doing something else besides slaving over a stove in a hot kitchen. Prepare a plate of cold, delicious deli sandwiches instead, and enjoy them on the patio with a cold beverage. Other options include having outdoor cookouts or heading to your favorite pub or diner for your evening meal.
Plant Leafy Trees
This may take a few years to have any noticeable effect, but homes that are surrounding by leafy trees enjoy significantly cooler interiors than their counterparts with treeless yards. If you don't want to completely surround your home with trees, planting them on the west and south sides will provide plenty of protection from the sun's hot rays.
Keep Your AC Filter Clean
Dirty filters not only circulate mold and mildew spores throughout your home; they make your system work much harder to cool down your home interior. Check them on a regular basis -- once per month if you're using your AC on a daily basis. You should also start out each season with a new filter for best results.
Have an ENERGY STAR AC Unit Installed
Older air conditioning units aren't nearly as energy-efficient as their ENERGY STAR counterparts. You'll not only save money, but you'll also be doing your part to help protect the environment. On average, ENERGY STAR AC systems save about eight-percent over older models. You may also be able to enjoy state or county tax breaks by purchasing an ENERGY STAR unit -- these vary by where you live. Your contractor should be current on any possible tax incentives. ENERGY STAR units also feature programmable thermostats, allowing you to program your AC to raise its temperature settings for when you're at work during the day or otherwise not at home.
Install Solar Screens
Solar screens can be installed either on the interior or exterior of your windows. No matter where they're placed, they can greatly reduce the amount of heat that accesses your home on hot summer days. They've available as panels or roller shades and are usually made from PVC-coated polyester or fiberglass.
Cool Down the Old Fashioned Way
Take a cold shower, step outside and run through the lawn sprinkler, and enjoy ice cold beverages instead of automatically reaching for the controls to turn up the AC whenever you feel uncomfortably warm. Try wearing light, loose clothing in the house. These strategies will allow you to keep your thermostat set several degrees higher than otherwise, resulting in a pleasant surprise when you open your utility bill.
Upgrade Your Insulation
Skyrocketing utility bills are often caused by poor insulation -- and this holds true in summer as well, even though most people associate insulation with keeping warmth trapped inside during winter. Good insulation also keeps cool air from escaping your home interior. Summer heat can also access your home interior through poorly sealed doors and windows , so consider having these properly sealed at the time of your insulation upgrade.
Get Reflective Roofing
If you live in an area that gets serious summer heat, consider getting a cool roof consisting of reflective materials. The premise is simple -- these materials reflect the sun's heat away from your home instead of absorbing it.
Please feel free to contact your local HVAC contractor, such as those at Sullivan Super Service, for more advice on keeping seasonal cooling costs down.