Updated: Wednesday, 20 May 2009, 6:07 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 20 May 2009, 4:13 PM EDT
HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) - Staying cool and comfortable as the mercury climbs doesn't mean you have to install big ticket items like central air. Follow some of these ideas to achieve the environment you want, without breaking the bank.
Air Conditioning Units
How would you like to save 10% of your electricity bill?
If you plan to use a room air conditioning unit this summer, you can do just that by buying one with an energy star rating. According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling costs account for 50-70% of energy consumption in a typical home. Selecting energy efficient appliances not only reduces fossil fuel consumption, it saves consumers in monthly expenditures.
A major buying mistake is the purchase of an AC unit too big for a space, according to the Energy Star website. It is counterproductive. Rather than cooling the room faster, or to a greater extent, the AC will actually consume too much energy and produce excessive heat.
Scott Steinmetz, the general manager of Bernies in Holyoke, explained 22News on Wednesday, "Too big of an air conditioner is going to over cool the room and eventually cause the machine to shut down. So you want to make sure you get the right size for the room."
Click here for a buying guide to help you decide what the proper capacity air conditioner is based on the size of your room.
Steinmetz also noted that cooling is not effective around corners. Certain spaces are better suited for a couple smaller units opposed to a single large one. “Some people will try and go with fans to move air down the hallway -- which will work, but it's not as efficient, “ he said, “Going with a couple smaller units is actually more energy efficient and will cool the house better.”
Some units are programmable. Try to keep them off when there is no one home and at night when the outdoor air is coolest.
If you feel uncomfortable in the evening, try using the fan setting on the AC without the cooling element. This will save energy and the circulating air will feel cooler than a stagnant room.
Keep lights and electronics away from the air conditioner. The heat generated by nearby appliances force the AC unit to work longer and harder, detracting from its efficiency. On that note, keep electronics like televisions and computer monitors turned off when not being used. These types appliances are major sources of indoor heat. This "standby electricity" can eat up 5 to 10% of your utility bill.
This link offers tips to keep the house cool in the summer without running the AC.
Ceiling fans are more effective than portable fans. Fans make a space feel cooler by simply circulating air. Ceiling fans use far less energy than an air conditioning unit and can save you a bundle on cooling costs.
Drapes and blinds can also help keep your house from heating up. Any type of window covering that blocks the sun from entering the room is sure to keep the thermostat a few degrees cooler. Special energy saving window treatments are manufactured to keep homes cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
“The best insulator of all is a natural product, which would be a wood blind,” JC Penney window associate Kathleen Matera told 22News. “Some light does get through the slats, but for an insulating property, wood is the best.”
Thermal drapes conform to a more traditional style. According to Matera, the most popular and cost effective window treatment to control temperature is cellular shades. They are available in a huge variety of colors, cordless or corded, top and bottom venting styles.
Remember, in the morning hours sunlight will come in through your east facing windows. In the hot afternoons, westward windows will be the brightest. South facing surfaces will always receive more sun than north walls of your residence. Drapes must be drawn, shades down, and blinds closed to keep out the heat.
Awnings can also keep the house significantly cooler. They attach to the exterior of the house and block direct sunlight from reaching windows. Retractable models will welcome sunlight into the residence during cooler months. The most effective installation of awnings is on south and west facing windows.
Lastly, insulation will play a big role in the energy efficiency of your house. Not only does it keep your house warmer in the winter, it helps keep summertime heat out. Attic space is the prime location that most houses lack proper insulation. It can be installed fairly easily if the attic is unfinished, but are specific types and R-values that should be used. There is more information about this here. You can always request and energy audit to help find out the insulations weaknesses of your living area.
It is always a challenge to stay cool in the summer, especially on those humid days. By putting into practice some of these tips, hopefully you can keep the temperature and energy costs down in your home.