The hottest part of summer isn’t over yet. Stay cool with these hot weather tips and myths.
Common Energy Myths
Myth: Turn off the A/C so it won’t run while you’re gone.
On hot summer days, it takes a lot of work to bring a warm house down to a normal temperature. On the flip side, it’s wasteful to leave the A/C running continuously when you’re not at home. Consider investing in a programmable thermostat that will gradually lower the temperature level before you return home.
Myth: Crank down the thermostat to its lowest setting to cool your house faster.
The thermostat directs you’re A/C to run until a specific temperature is reached. If the thermostat is set lower than your desired temperature, it will cool to that lower temperature and use more energy than you need.
Myth: Ceiling fans don’t save energy.
A ceiling fan uses less energy than your central air conditioning unit. By using a fan, the moving air feels cooler, which allows you to keep the thermostat at a higher setting and still be comfortable. Just remember to turn it off when you leave the room. Fans cool people, not rooms.
Myth: When my appliance is turned off, it’s not using energy.
Many devices use power even when they are turned off. It’s what we call phantom load. In the U.S., approximately 43 billion kilowatt hours of electricity are wasted as the result of this continuous, low-level energy use. For the average homeowner, that translates to about $28 per year.
- Close your curtains and blinds on the sunny side of your home to block out the heat. Open them on the shady side to take advantage of the free light source.
- Change your A/C air filter regularly to keep your system running at peak performance.
- Protect your outdoor air conditioning unit by keeping it clean and free of debris and grass clippings.
- Close the refrigerator door. Plan what you need inside the fridge before you open the door.
- Keep your freezer full. A fully stocked freezer uses less energy than an empty one.
- Run your dishwasher on the energy saver mode to use less water and electricity.
- Use the oven light to monitor items through the window. The temperature can drop by 25 degrees each time you open the oven door, meaning it requires more energy to stay constant.
- Consider cooking outside on a grill during summer months. Using an oven makes your home hotter.
- Wash full loads of clothes and use cold water when possible.
- Avoid over-drying your clothes. It wastes energy, plus causes static and wrinkling.
- Clean the dryer lint filter before every load to keep your dryer running efficiently.
- Be mindful not to place lamps or electronics near your thermostat. That can cause your air conditioner to run longer than necessary because the thermostat senses heat from the appliances.
- When your fireplace is not in use, make sure the damper is sealed tight and close the glass doors.
- Electronics play an increasingly larger role in your home’s energy consumption, accounting for about 15 percent of your total energy usage. Look for electronics with the ENERGY STAR symbol.
- Unplug battery chargers and power adapters when not in use.
- A 10-minute shower can use less water than a full bath. A new energy-efficient showerhead can save up to $145 each year on water heating costs.
- Repair any faucet leaks. A leaky faucet can waste gallons of water. Hot water leak can waste up to 1,661 gallons of water over the course of a year and cost up to $35.
- Plant a tree. One well-placed shade tree can reduce your cooling costs by 25 percent. For maximum benefit, place leafy shade trees to the south and west, and evergreens to the north.
- Keep outdoor hot tubs covered when not in use. If you have a pool, use a solar cover to heat the water from the natural warmth of the sun.
- The outdoor porch light is one of the highest used light fixtures in your home. Switch out the old bulb for an energy-efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL). Or install a new ENERGY STAR qualified outdoor fixture that turns on when someone is present or when it gets dark outside.
- Keep your garage door closed to prevent hot air from infiltrating your home.
- Before you leave for vacation, turn the water heater off so that it won’t cycle and heat water while you’re gone.
- Retire your extra refrigerator or freezer. It’s one of the largest energy users in your home. Instead, size your main refrigerator to meet your needs, and recycle the old one. If you must have an extra refrigerator or freezer, buy a new, energy-efficient model.
- Seal air leaks. The attic is one of the places where you can find the biggest air leaks. Use a combination of spray foam, foam board, metal flashing and caulk to seal up gaps and crevices where air leakage can occur, such as around your plumbing stack and chimney.
- Weather strip and insulate your home’s attic hatch or door to help keep your home more comfortable and save energy.
- Inspect your insulation. If you can see your ceiling joists, you need to increase the amount of insulation in your attic. Attic insulation should have at least an R-30 rating.
- Look for holes in your air ducts and seal them using mastic or metal foil tape. Never use duct tape. In the average home, 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks.