It may be cold outside, but now is a great time to start thinking about spring and getting your home ready for warm weather. Air conditioning makes up a large part of your annual energy costs. By taking action now, you can save significantly on your utility bills and make your home more comfortable during those hot summer days. The following are some energy-saving steps that you can take.
Cooling system maintenance. Have your system cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional. Schedule an appointment as soon as possible, contractors get busier as the summer draws near. Replace your air filter and continue to replace it monthly during summer.
Install a programmable thermostat. This is a cost-effective way to reduce energy use and match the cooling needs of your home to your schedule. Properly used, programmable thermostats typically offer savings of 10% to 15% without sacrificing comfort.
Keep energy efficiency in mind when spring cleaning. When cleaning windows, check to make sure that they are in good condition. Look for cracks or loose caulking that may be leaking air. If you see dust around vents, it could be a sign of leaky ducts, which can reduce cooling system efficiency. Clean light bulbs to increase light output and improve overall lighting efficiency.
Use natural cooling. If you have storm windows and doors, take them down and replace them with screens. Open windows and screen doors provide fresh air and free cooling.
Install a whole-house fan. A whole-house fan can draw rising hot air out of your house, while drawing cooler air in through open windows. The use of ceiling fans in each room also provides cooling and reduces the need to run the air conditioner.
Add energy-saving landscaping. Leafy trees and bushes placed strategically on the south and west sides of your home will provide shade that keeps your house cool during hot summer afternoons. The benefits will not be immediate, but as the trees grow they will reduce cooling costs and keep your home more comfortable in years to come.
Control mold and mildew. Warmer weather brings rain and increased humidity, providing an opportunity for the growth of mold and mildew, which can can lead to health problems and cause structural damage to your home. To stop mold and mildew, look for moisture leaks and have them sealed immediately. Your attic and basement are good places to start. Ideal indoor humidity levels should stay between 30% and 50%. Use your air-conditioning system—supplemented by a basement dehumidifier—to maintain proper humidity levels.
If your air-conditioning system is 15 years or older, spring is a good time to consider a replacement before the start of the summer cooling season. If you decide to install a new system, make sure that it is ENERGY STAR qualified. ENERGY STAR models are up to 30% more efficient than standard systems.