Beating the Summer Heat With Better Energy Efficiency

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Like home heating in the winter air conditioning usage in the summer uses up a lot of energy. The difference is that while heat can come from burners and radiator systems most air-conditioning is run on electricity.

In the big picture that means that on the hottest days power plants in large urban centers generate a lot of pollution trying to meet the population’s demand. On an individual level AC usage is likely to run up a large electric bill which can cause financial stress for many families.

That’s why incorporating a few changes to how AC is used at home and trying out some alternatives can change the outcome in both these areas.

For instance consider the following tips for better efficiency, less pollution, and lower bills when it comes to staying cool in the warmer months.

Drafts

Ask handymen in hot urban centers like Dallas and they will tell you drafts are one of the top reasons why a home’s cooling system is rendered inefficient. Found around windows and doors they cause air-conditioning systems to work harder by allowing cool air to seep out or warm air to enter. Inspect for drafts by hovering a lit candle around openings to the exterior, which can usually be sealed on the outside with caulk.

Obstructions

Many times a central air-system may be working great, however, air isn’t able to flow through rooms well because of obstructions. Make sure vents are clear of things such as furniture and clutter so you can maximize your AC’s potential.

Model

How old is your air-conditioner? It’s important to ask this question because usually if it’s more than 10 years chances are it’s inefficient by today’s standards. Buying an energy saving model may be an immediate expense but will save money down the road and give you peace of mind that your cool relief is impinging on the environment less.

Filters

AC filters do two things. They remove dirt particles from the air and keep a unit’s mechanism clean. Depending on the system’s usage these could get clogged quite often which means it’s good to inspect them once a month to make sure they aren’t obstructing the flow of air. When filters are clogged the AC works less efficiently and indoor air can become contaminated.

Maintenance

Changing filters is one type of upkeep but sometimes a professional should be called in to do a routine maintenance check as more technical problems may exist which only they can determine.

Timer

Sometimes the AC is turned on and we leave the house forgetting to turn it off or we go to sleep and it runs all night. To make sure it’s only used when necessary put it on a timer.

Doors

If possible the AC should only be used in rooms that are being occupied. Doors between rooms should be kept closed to keep cool air contained.

Shades

When the sun shines it packs a punch in terms of heat, especially in the middle of the day. However, if shades or curtains are closed it actually keeps the rays from turning the home into an oven. That means the AC doesn’t have to be on high and you may even be able to get away with using a fan.

Ceiling fan

Speaking of fans, installing them on ceilings of rooms used often is a great way to cut down on AC usage and save energy. Ceiling fans may not ‘condition’ the air but will create a refreshing breeze you can survive on.

Layers

Finally, it happens to many people at work that the AC is blasting and it gets so cold they have to wear a sweater just to tolerate the low temperature. That might be necessary at the office but if you’re wearing a hoodie at home in the middle of the summer when the air-conditioning is blasting it’s time to turn it down (or off) and dress more appropriately.

Article by Jakob Barry, a green living journalist for Networx.com. Networx.com helps homeowners save time, money and frustration by connecting them with home improvement professionals. From plumbers and roofers to electricians and HVAC contractors Networx simplifies the process of locating a reliable professional.

Article appearing courtesy 2GreenEnergy.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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