Scorching. That’s the type of weather the folks at almanac.com say we can expect this summer. “On average, we’re predicting summer temperatures to be hotter than normal across most of the country, ranging from the Atlantic Corridor south to Florida, across to the West Coast, and almost everywhere in between.”
Add to that the very sad but real fact that in 2021, electricity rates rose faster than they have since 2008. Summer won’t be just hot, but expensive as well.
We scoured the internet for tips from experts on how we can all keep comfortable at home without breaking our budgets. Let’s take a look at a few of these tips.
Tune it up
Every year as we approach late spring, air conditioning contractors ramp up their advertising about the importance of annual maintenance.
They have a point.
“An air conditioner’s filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its years of service,” explain the experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
“Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.”
Researchers at homeadvisor.com suggest that you plan on spending between $75 to $200 for a “simple tune-up.”
Sounds crazy but …
Raise the thermostat on your AC system. “The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be,” claims our pro at the DOE.
Experiment with various temperature settings to find one that you can live comfortably with all summer. Seventy-eight degrees Fahrenheit while you are at home is what most of the pros recommend and 85 degrees if you’re leaving home and won’t return for at least four hours.
Need some incentive? You can realize a 1% to 3% savings on your energy bill for each degree higher that you set the AC system’s thermostat.
Wind chill in the summer?
Consider purchasing several circulating fans and using your ceiling fans. “These fans create a wind chill effect that will make you more comfortable in your home, even if it’s also cooled by natural ventilation or air conditioning,” say our friends at energy.gov.
Because they tend to amplify the feeling of cooler air, you may be able to bump that AC thermostat a notch or two higher.
In fact, the folks at energy.gov say that “If you use air conditioning to cool your home, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.” That’s money saved, right there.
- Turn off the AC and open the doors and windows when the air outside is cooler than that inside the home.
- Do some gardening. Shrubs and trees in the landscape not only help raise the value of your home, but, if placed strategically, they will shade the home, cooling it off naturally.
Clean energy company Constellation offers a list of ways to cool your home with strategic landscaping. Surprisingly, they claim that “The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-sized air conditioners that operate 20 hours a day” and “Just three trees, properly placed around a house, can reduce energy use by up to 30%.”
- Consider installing window film and block-out curtains to keep the summer sun from heating up your home. The curtains are available at many retailers, including bedbathandbeyond.com, target.com and amazon.com.