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Everybody’s talking about “going green.” You know, lowering your carbon footprint, reducing your energy consumption, cutting down your contribution to global warming. That’s all good, but let me give you a very straightforward reason for going green – SAVING MONEY! Energy prices are through the roof right now and you’re doubtless thinking how grateful you are that the heating season is over. Well, you still have to cool your home and with global warming making the summers hotter, how can you stay cooler and keep your bills from burning a hole in your checking account? Like I’m going to leave you hanging. Please. Here are some things you can do to get your home “energy ready” before summer those big summer bills hit. The most important thing to do is insulate and I wrote a column about that last year. Read it. Now, what else? Well for starters…


Can you spare some change?

Change the filters in your heating and cooling systems. You should have been changing them regularly – at least monthly – anyway but if you’re like the rest of us, you haven’t been. So change them now. Then try to remember to do it next month too. With cleaner filters, your system will cool more efficiently, running with lower energy consumption and saving you money. Yay.


This is a test

Test your cooling system by flicking the thermostat over to “cool” and turning the setting down. If your AC doesn’t come on, check to make sure that none of your breakers are tripped. If that’s not the problem, then now’s the time to call your HVAC repairperson. This is the time of year that they’re quite busy so be really sweet when you call and you might even get some decent service. Plus, since it’s not an emergency, you’re can try to get a better price. Yay.


Signed, sealed, delivered

While your system’s running, check the air ducts to see if any of them are leaking. If they are, just cover the leaks with the always-useful duct tape. By the way, this is what duct tape is actually for: ducts. Live and learn.  Also check your windows, doors, and the other openings in your home. Caulk up any holes and replace any torn or broken weather stripping. The less your cool air escapes into the hot world outside, the more you’ll save. Yay.


Girls on Film 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, roughly one third of your cooling needs are due to solar heat gained through windows. Of course, windows provide views and sunshine that can reduce the need for artificial lighting so you don’t want to keep your curtains drawn all summer. To keep the sun from streaming in your windows and steaming up your home, you can apply a solar film to your windows. Solar control window film is applied to the inside of a window where it reflects and absorbs heat, keeping it from getting into your home. There are many of these films on the market so check them out at your local home center. Furthermore, most utilities are going to charge you more during the peak-demand summer period. They charge you for the electricity you use, then they charge you an additional fee. Nice, huh? But, if you can cut down during peak cooling periods, you’ll save twice. Yay. 


Thermostatic electricity

If you don’t already have one, consider changing your old thermostat to a programmable one. Admit it, you hate coming home to a hot house so you leave your AC on when you’re out. Bad for the environment and bad for your bank account. But, with a programmable thermostat, you can set it to kick in about an hour before you get home. Now you’re happy, Al Gore’s happy, and your accountant’s happy. Yay.


Fan club

Consider installing an attic fan that pushes hot air out of the attic. Also, if you like the look, you should think about installing ceiling fans that you could use instead of flipping on the AC. Decide how much you’re really going to use the fans though, before spending the money to buy them and get them installed. Since fans use less electricity than air conditioning, if you do use them you’ll save some money. Yay.


Clean and clear 

During the winter, some people cover the condenser unit (the big air conditioning unit outside the house). If you do, take off the cover and hose down the coils. If you don’t cover your unit, you still need to hose down the coils. Also, clear out any debris, leaves or branches that may have collected around the unit during the winter so that the condenser has full and easy air flow. If you have window or sleeve air conditioners, clean the filters and hose down the outsides as well. The easier it is for your equipment to work, the less energy it will burn to keep you cool and the lower your bills. Yay. Finally, please don’t forget to check out my previous column on insulation because that’s a way you can make a big impact on your energy consumption, your bills, and the environment.


And, to summarize: Summerize!

 

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 101 - September 0914
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