How to Keep Your Home Cool in the Warmer Months – Without Blasting the AC
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Posted May 15, 2018
With temps rising outside, it’s easy to reach for that thermostat to crank up the AC. But every time you touch that thermostat to blast cool air, you’re also increasing your monthly electric bill. We’ve got a few tips, tricks and DIY solutions to help keep you and your home cool even on the hottest summer days.
Set Those Ceiling Fans to Rotate Counter-Clockwise
While having your ceiling fan on won’t actually lower temperatures, setting it to run counter-clockwise will circulate airflow creating a wind chill breeze that will make you and your guests feel a bit cooler. The Department of Energy suggests that your home can increase temperatures by 4℉ with the fan running and not feel a reduction in comfort, so it is a good way to keep your home cool with minimal effort.
Utilize Your Home’s Other Fans
Since you’ve already set those ceiling fans to run counter-clockwise, why not let some of the other fans in your home help too? Using your oven and bathroom exhaust fans can drive out hot air from your home. They’ll help with controlling humidity and ventilate extreme outdoor temps. If your oven or bathroom fans aren’t working, consider having them repaired by a local professional. If your home has an attic, you may want to also think about installing an attic fan to keep temperatures low, primarily if the HVAC unit is housed up there.
Pro Tip: If you have a box fan or other personal fan in your home, you can create your own source of AC. Fill a mixing bowl with ice or something just as cold. Angle the bowl in front of the fan so the air bounces off the ice. Trust us — if your AC unit ever goes out, this will keep you cool in the meantime.
Close Down Unused Parts of Your Home
While we definitely don’t recommend shutting vents, we do recommend shutting any doors to rooms you don’t frequent. Doing this during the hottest hours of the day will keep your home cool as air circulates in the areas that you use the most.
Crack a Window at Night
Let the crisp, refreshing night air into your bedroom. Make the most of the temperature drop during the evening hours. Just don’t forget to close it back up first thing in the morning otherwise you’ll be heating your home. While you’re opening up your windows, you may want to place a box fan in the window to push heat outside.
Pro Tip: Create a cross breeze with the cracked window and strategically placed fans. This wind funnel effect will keep cool air circulating through the night.
A big energy waster in your home might be an air leak or a poorly sealed crack, window, door, attic, or basement. Seek out parts of your home that could benefit from increased insulation, door sweeps, or weather stripping. If you’ve got some time on your hands, you can diy the insulation. Catch small problems before they become much larger ones and keep the cool air inside.
Planting trees is a passive cooling method that works great for shading your home during the hot summer days and providing resistance to winds in the winter months. They’ll also improve your indoor air quality and even raise your property value. If you choose a deciduous breed, you’ll have shade all summer long, and when the winter comes, your tree will have lost all of its leaves, letting sunlight pass through without the harsh winds. By planting with your outdoor system in mind, you can see a reduction in AC costs by up to 30%. Just make sure to trim branches located directly above your unit to prevent damage from falling limbs.
Pro Tip: Tree shade is also great for patios, sidewalks, driveways, yards and windows. Some for cost-saving reasons and some for creating that backyard oasis you had been dreaming of all winter long.
Swap Out Your Incandescent Lights
If the energy savings weren’t enough to convince you to swap out your light bulbs, then stopping the heat from them might be. Only 10-15% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs is used for actual lighting, and the rest goes to producing heat. Switch to CFLs to stop heat emissions and lower energy use.
Shut the Blinds and Install Some Blackout Curtains
Similar to effects you’ll see from shading your home with trees, blinds can also do a great job of keeping sunlight out. Even though you may not see as large of a difference as you would with the trees, blinds typically result in 7 percent savings on your monthly energy bills. Plus, blinds can cause massive temperature reductions (as much as 20 degrees). Add in the blackout curtains in a neutral color for natural insulation, and you’ll reduce heat gain by about 33 percent.
Your coils keep your system working efficiently, and dirty coils add unnecessary strain to your HVAC unit. You can see higher cooling capacity and energy efficiency with frequent and routine cleanings. Check out our blog post for a full guide to DIY your condenser coil cleaning. You can always contact a local professional to save yourself some time and hassle as well.
Perform HVAC System Maintenance
To ensure your system is working as efficiently as possible, you’ll need to have routine maintenance performed. We recommend HVAC system maintenance (at minimum) twice a year when seasons change. You can perform this on your own by following our Air Conditioning Maintenance Checklist or by having a professional service tune-up. Whichever you decide, don’t wait until your system is having problems to take corrective measures. Preventative maintenance is the key to efficiency and cost-savings!
Pro Tip: Some manufacturers require routine maintenance to stay under warranty. Check your units manual to learn more about what’s needed.
Since your HVAC unit accounts for the most of your home’s energy consumption, it’s important to have an energy-efficient and reliable system in your home. If your unit is older than 15 years, it might be nearing time to replace. Consider the age, SEER rating, and cost of repairs before replacing a unit. If you are in the market to buy, check out our air conditioner buying guide to learn more before making a significant investment.