Keeping Your Cool, Cooler This Summer

Construction & Contractors Articles

Nearly half (48 %) of the energy consumed by American homeowners is devoted to heating and cooling. Put another way, this energy consumption costs nearly $5,000 a year. With a few clever efficiency improvements, however, you can beat the national average, saving you both valuable energy and money.

Keep it Clean: when it comes to improving the efficiency and performance of your heating and cooling systems, it's important to remember that they are essentially a giant set of mechanical lungs, both inhaling and exhaling air flows. If you've ever experienced asthma or a respiratory illness you know all too well how difficult it is for your body to function when your breathing is inhibited.

  • Power Wash: power washing your central air unit (before the winter and summer) with a high-pressure hose can clean out accumulated soot and dirt from fans, belts, and the unit's air intake.

  • Give it Space: trimming back weeds, brush, and other plant growth from around your central unit prevents plant debris from clogging or fouling critical internal components.

  • Swap your Filter: although a central air unit's filter is designed to last three to five years, swapping it out on a biannual schedule can pay for itself in reduced energy costs. Not only is this process very easy, but it's also relatively inexpensive. If you don't plan on swapping your filter, you should at least consider cleaning it with a few blasts of compressed air or and/or vacuuming it twice a year.

Air Tight: the easiest way the average homeowner can reduce their heating and cooling costs is by going on an air-leak finding mission. Simply put, the more air leaks you find in your home and/or air ducts, the less efficient you are heating/cooling your home.

  • Returns and Exchanges: your heating and cooling system works by delivering heated or cooled air via air ducts throughout your home. These air ducts are called returns and exchanges. Because most air leaks occur at the seams and joints where these ducts come together, you can find these holes by applying, with a paint brush, a solution of ½ water and ½ dish soap. Any leaks will be made obvious by the soap bubbles that form when air passes through the vents. The easiest way to seal any leaks you find is with duct mastic, which is both inexpensive and easy to use.

Harness Mother Nature: because mother nature controls the very necessity of climate control, it makes sense to use her awesome power as much as possible.

  • Window Treatments: you don't need to be an astrophysicist to understand that the sun's rays bring warmth. In the summer, this warmth can make an already warm home even hotter. Conversely, in the winter, using the sun's rays can make a cold house warmer. The trick for both seasons is to control how much sunlight you let into your home. The most efficient way to achieve this control is by investing in custom-made window treatments. These curtain/blinds should be thick (at least ½ an inch), reflective, and designed to cover 100% of your windows. During the summer, you will want to draw your blinds, particularly on south facing windows, very early (9 to 10 am). During the winter, you will want to wait to open your blinds until later in the day (noon on).

  • Insulation: much like your air ducts, air leaks around your windows, door jambs, and outlets and other areas will allow cold air to escape during the summer and warm air to leech out into the cold during the winter. Fortunately, easy to apply insulation products abound at your local hardware store. When looking for insulation products it's important to look for foam products that compress and seal when weight is applied. 

Investing in energy efficiency pays twofold: 1) it reduces your energy bill and 2) it reduces your impact on the planet. These solutions can help you achieve both ends. For more tips on how to make your heating and cooling systems more efficient, contact a cooling and heating repair specialist.

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24 June 2015

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