When the summer months come around, our thoughts turn to staying cool–and to our energy bills. But keeping your home comfortable doesn’t have to mean a drain on energy or our bank accounts. Whether you’re making simple spruce-ups to your home this summer or making major overhauls, there are easy ways to make upgrades to beat the heat while also saving energy.
1. Take care of the air. Many people equate “saving energy” with not using their air conditioner. While using your air conditioning less will no doubt save you energy, you can still use it while reducing its energy consumption. Preparing and doing some pre-season maintenance on your air conditioner unit for the long months ahead is the best way to cut down on the energy your unit uses. This also will help you identify any potential problems that could arise throughout the summer.
Some common problems may be fixed with do-it-yourself solutions, such as frozen coils, which can happen when dirt and other debris clog ducts and air filters, preventing warm air from reaching the coils. You can try some simple steps to unthaw the coils yourself, or you can check with an HVAC consultant if you’re not sure that’s the problem. Other issues like a refrigerant leak definitely require professional assistance. And you may find that it’s simply time to replace your air conditioning unit – the average lifespan of a central air conditioner is about 15 years.
2. Cover up. Both cooling and heating energy can be lost through your windows, so it may be time to inventory and assess your window coverings. You might consider adding shutters to the exterior of your home to help keep out the heat in the summer and the chill in the winter, particularly on those windows that get the most exposure. Awnings can do wonders in blocking the heat from direct sunlight.
In looking at the interior of your home, switching to a window covering like cellular shades can help keep the heat and cold where it’s supposed to be, and make a big difference in your energy bill. Lined draperies are highly effective at blocking the sun’s heat. For a lighter, more airy look to your room, blinds can work well at keeping heat out while letting indirect light in. Making sure your windows are sealed well – or replaced with more energy-efficient types – also can help prevent those mystery losses of energy from continuing.
3. Get natural. You may discover ways to beat the heat inside your home without buying a thing – you may be able to simply rearrange your furniture and reconfigure rooms to make the best use of natural daylight. For instance, if you’re working at home more these days, you might consider making that southern-exposed spare bedroom into your home office to take advantage of the daylight. Or, you might move a desk from one part of a room to another, or you might reconfigure family room seating so that the sunlight is working for you. Tapping into the power of natural light helps keep your electricity costs down because you won’t need to keep energy-consuming lights on all day.
If you’re looking to make some upgrades, consider the addition of skylights in certain low-light rooms, such as windowless bathrooms, or even walk-in closets. Skylights in bedrooms also can help with your natural sleep-wake cycle, keeping your body on schedule, even when the rest of our schedules are thrown off course.
4. Get growing. Landscaping is a great way to help beat the heat and save energy at your home. What better time than summer to think about upgrading your yard? Strategically placed trees and shrubbery can help provide much-needed shade in the summer, and they provide wind block in the winter, helping to keep you from wasting money. The U.S. Department of Energy has maps to show climate zones along with tips on the best types of energy-saving landscaping for your region.
For example, in cooler regions, homeowners should allow the winter sun to reach southern-facing windows, but keep it shaded in the summer – so planting a deciduous tree that loses its leaves might be a great option. Homes in hot and arid regions might seek trees that offer dense shade to cool down roofing and walls.
Thinking about the heat in multiple ways and considering light sources can help you assess the best methods toward helping your home save as much energy as you can. Even simple changes can help you beat the heat this summer.
About The Author: Morgen Henderson enjoys writing and covers various topics, ranging from travel to home improvement to finance—and everything in between. In her free time, she loves to travel, bake, and explore the outdoors. You can follow her adventures on Twitter @mo_hendi.
Photo by Rampal Singh on Unsplash
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