Tips

Summer

Open Your Windows

When the outside air is cooler than the inside, it’s foolish to keep using electricity for something nature can do for you instead. Install separate indoor/outdoor thermometer setups (one for each floor of your house) so you know exactly when you reach that tipping point. When the temperature outside is starting to drop and has sunk at least one degree less than the inside temperature, turn off the air conditioner and throw open the windows.

 

Nothing is more satisfying than getting a breeze of fresh air after having your home closed up all day.

Turn On Your Ceiling Fans

While a ceiling fan won’t make your room cooler, it will definitely make it feel cooler by speeding sweat evaporation and they cost far less to run than your air conditioner. If you don’t have ceiling fans already, they’re not very hard to install.

 

Once your fans are in, make sure the fan is set to spin in the correct direction: You want the air blowing down in summer and up in winter. If you’re not sure which way the air is moving, look at the blades as they spin: If the leading edge is higher than the trailing, it is pushing the air down. You can leave your ceiling fans on whether you have the windows open or the air conditioner on. It’s nice to have air blowing over you and making you feel cooler.

Put In an Attic Fan

An attic van gives you the combined benefits of moving air (like a ceiling fan) and pulling in the cooler air from outside. Of course, a prerequisite for running this is opening your windows, so the best thing is wait until after dusk to open your windows and then set the timer to run at least until after you’re deep asleep. It’s an investment that can easily pay for itself in a couple of years.

Shut The Blinds

On hot summer days, the sun is your worst enemy. The last thing you want to do is have your air conditioner running full blast to offset the increase heat from the sunlight pouring in your windows. By closing the blinds, you’ll still let in enough light to see by, but you’ll reflect back the rest

Run Your Furnace Fan

Many thermostats will allow you to tell the fan to run without initiating the furnace or air conditioner. By turning on your furnace fan, you cause the air to be circulated throughout the house, balancing out any cold or hot spots so that you whole house feels more comfortable. An added benefit is that it will trap any potential allergens that have been introduced by opening your windows – just make sure to regularly check the furnace filter and replace it when it’s dark enough to block light passing through.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

It doesn’t make much sense to cool your home while you’re gone, but it’s hard to remember to tweak your thermostat every day before you leave for work. Program your thermostat to go up by five degrees about 30 minutes or so before you leave and have it come back to your “normal” temperature a half-hour before you return.For added savings, program it to also raise the thermostat by two or three degrees through the night – you’re unlikely to notice the change in your sleep.

Turn Up The Thermostat A Degree Or Two

It’s recommended that you set your thermostat at 78 degrees during the summer if you have central air conditioning. It’s a pleasant temperature, but isn’t necessarily the cheapest setting. If you can handle it, raise your thermostat by one or two degrees and realize a savings of about six to seven percent for each degree above 78.

Close Unused Vents

I don’t know about your house or apartment, but there are some infrequently-used rooms in our house. If you’re not going to be in a particular room very much or very often, consider closing the vent in that room so you’re not cooling dead space.That will cause more air to come out of the other open vents, potentially allowing you to add some cooling to a room that wasn’t getting it otherwise.

 

Note: I wouldn’t recommend completely shutting the vents in a basement since the air conditioner helps remove humidity and you don’t want to end up with a soggy basement.

Turn Off The Lights

This isn’t really a suggested limited to summer, but it’s most appropriate now that it’s heating up. If you don’t need a light on, turn it off! All light bulbs generate heat as a byproduct of producing light (even though compact fluorescents run cooler than incandescent) and why would you want to add heat to the summer mix?

 

What light is filtering in through your closed blinds should be sufficient to get you around the house during the day. When night falls, turn on only the lights you need only when you need them. Not only will you save electricity, but you’ll also do your air conditioner a favor.

Hold Off On Cooking

I love chicken salad. In the summer, there is no meal I like more – it can be eaten chilled, you don’t have to cook anything, and it’s quick to prepare. Any time you turn on that stove while your air conditioner is running, you’re taking money out of your own pockets.

 

During the summer, do what you can to avoid turning on the stove and, if you must turn it on, turn it on in the late evening and (preferably) after you’ve opened the windows for the night.

Leave Laundry Until After Dark

Like a huge, spinning oven, your clothes dryer puts out a decent amount of heat. Much of that heat will be vented outside, but some will still leak into your house. The later you wait to turn it on, the better chance you have of not working against your air conditioner as much. If you live somewhere that has time-based metering of electricity, try to wait until the lower evening rate kicks in.

 

Of course, nothing beats line-drying in terms of electricity usage, but if you don’t have a clothesline or your subdivision bans outdoor clothes lines, running your dryer at night is the next best option.

Use Your Lowest Level

When I go down to our lower level, I’m quick to notice that it’s at least 10 degrees cooler down there than our first floor. If you are fortunate to have a finished basement or lower level walkout home, you may find it more comfortable to spend more time on your lowest level.

Unplug/Switch Off Unused Electronics

Not only are those wall warts eating electricity when they’re not in use, they’re also converting some of that power into heat. By unplugging everything you can and putting the rest on switchable surge protectors, you can potentially save yourself a lot of money and unnecessary heat.

Bonus: Turn Off The TV

TV’s can really heat up whenever they’re on for more than a few hours. If you’re not really watching something and just have it on for background noise, you can save a lot of money and heat by switching on a radio instead. As an added bonus, switching off the TV allows you to do other things, like go outside and enjoy the cool evening air first-hand instead of using any variety of cooling devices to bring that air to you!

Winter

Open The Curtains

Keeps your curtains open to prevent condensation.

Reverse Ceiling Fans

Reverse your ceiling fans (from summer setting) to force the warm air down.

Adjust Your Thermostat

Turn the thermostat down a degree or two.

Apply Plastic

For Single Glazed windows, using pressure fit storm windows or even a plastic film will help insulate the windows.

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