Don't let summer leave you overheated — learn what you can do to stay cool and save money.Warm, summer weather has arrived — and with it comes the sun, heat and humidity. Since summer marks the beginning of the home cooling season, many homeowners are concerned about avoiding warmer indoor temperatures while still preventing painfully high energy bills.
There are a number of ways to keep your costs low while keeping your home cool and comfortable. Here are some of the best indoor cooling tips to help keep your family cool this summer:
1. Change or clean your air filter - Changing your air filter keeps the air in your home safer and cleaner, but it also saves energy, improves cooling performance and lengthens the life of your HVAC system. Filters should be cleaned or replaced at least every three months (or more often, depending on your system requirements). High-quality HEPA filters will yield the best results.
2. Close the curtains, blinds or drapes - A lot of sun can shine into your home throughout the day, especially during the longer daylight hours and intense heat of summer. Keeping your windows covered will keep much of the sun's heat out, which reduces the load on your air conditioner.
3. Keep A/C unit clear of weeds, vines and other debris - These materials can clog the unit and cause efficiency problems. This is a maintenance job you can do yourself in between professional routine maintenance for your HVAC system. It's important every year to get a complete tune-up and clean out any dirt or grime that may be slowing things down.
4. Set the thermostat higher - Lowering the thermostat to a cooler setting will not cause your A/C to cool the house any faster, but it may waste a lot of energy. Try to aim for a consistent temperature on the thermostat (between 75 and 78 degrees) with very minimal adjustments, or consider investing in a programmable thermostat to make needed adjustments for you.
5. Close or seal registers in the basement - Since basements keep a fairly consistent cooler temperature due to their location underground, any cold air directed into the basement will be wasted.
6. Partially close air vents in unused rooms - While your system is designed to cool the entire house, you can redirect some cool air to your most-used areas by partially closing certain vents. You may save a little energy and focus cooling where you need it most.
7. Keep all vents clear and unblocked - Blocked vents will increase the pressure on your air conditioner and prevent the house from cooling consistently or evenly, so make sure vents aren't blocked by furniture and remove any dust or debris that might be clogging them up.
8. Keep heavy cooking to a minimum - Turning on the oven or cooking anything on the stove for a long time will only make your house warmer, so try to focus on meals that include a lot of fresh or raw foods, like salads, or cook foods that have short cooking times.
9. Use ceiling fans to help cool your home - Reversible fans can be adjusted with the season, forcing cool air down in the summer and helping to keep your family comfortable. This way, the fans can work with your central air conditioner to help keep the air moving and help you feel cooler.
10. Prevent overexertion - Try to exercise or do yard work in the early morning or evening, when temperatures are lower, and drink a lot of water to help your body cool itself. This way, when you're indoors, you and your family can remain comfortable at a reasonable temperature, instead of feeling you need to drop the thermostat to combat overexertion or overheating.
These indoor cooling tips are a great place to start when trying to save energy and money while still living comfortably, but there are also many other ideas to try. You can also browse the Department of Energy website to find more indoor cooling tips to help manage your energy use during the hotter months.