Ready, Set, Summer!
“It’s a dry heat” they say. Like opening an oven. That heat becomes the enemy and we try to beat it with every measure possible. Fans. Air conditioning. Dark curtains. Standing a little longer than we need to in front of the freezer. In the end it becomes a title fight between comfort vs. dollars.
Not every effort has to be expensive, however. We have compiled a list of small things you can do to keep your energy costs down and your home comfortable as the endless days of summer approach.
- Get your AC Unit tuned up. This can range from $60-$150 or so, depending on the extent of the service and whether or not they add freon. This helps to identify potential problems before they become an emergency. Remember your unit is an integral part of your home, and replacing it can cost several thousand dollars. A well maintained unit will have a much longer life span.
- Change your filter(s). We aren’t going to scold you if you don’t do it every month… but if you haven’t changed it in a while, now is a good time. Stock up on them while you are out, so you can be sure to change them at least monthly while your AC unit is working harder than ever. Do some research and find out what type of air filter is really best. While high-efficiency filters block out more small particulates (allergens, microbes, fumes) but they also reduce air flow and could be choking up your system.
- Shade your AC Unit. If you have a ground mounted unit in the direct sun, putting up a shade screen will help it run and cool more efficiently. Be sure to leave room for air flow and build or select something you can move for maintenance. Amazon has some quality prefabricated ones if you aren’t in the mood for (one more) project.
- Install a programmable thermostat. Technology has advanced quite a bit, but you don’t have to get the latest gadget you can control with your phone. By setting up your thermostat to turn off, or run less, while you are not home, you can save money and don’t have to remember to change it as you rush out of the house.
- Check doors and windows for air leaks. Seal any areas with expanding foam, silicon or weatherstripping. This will not only help with heat transfer, but also critters.
- Light blocking window coverings. Your south and west windows take the brunt of the sun, and transfer the most heat. There are many options for window coverings, and R&K’s Window Treatments department has many options of blinds, shades and shutters to filter or block light altogether. But if your budget doesn’t allow for a permanent solution right now, look into light blocking curtain panels sold at nearly every retailer. Sometimes you can find a good deal at the discount box stores, and IKEA tends to have a good selection of oversized panels giving you a pretty good value for more yardage of fabric.
- Ceiling fans and portable fans. Fans cool people, not rooms. So keep that in mind and turn them off when you are not home or not in the room. Also, reverse your ceiling fan direction for summer. It should now rotate counterclockwise, to create a cool draft by pulling up colder air from the floor and venting it near the ceiling. (While you are up there, wipe down those fan blades too.)
- Change your light bulbs. Traditional incandescent bulbs emit a lot of heat. Especially when they are grouped together – in overhead fixtures, in those popular light strips above the bathroom sink… CFL and LED bulbs are much cooler and more energy efficient. Many now come in adapted styles so they are more attractive in exposed fixtures. And of course, if you aren’t in the room or at home, turn them off!
Finally, remember that the heat takes its toll on pets, children and the elderly in more dramatic ways. When we get into those streaks of 100+ days make sure you are staying hydrated. Give your kids more bottled water and fewer sodas and sweet drinks. Upsize the water bowl for your furry friends. And if you know someone in your area who is older or housebound, check in on them and find out if they have a family emergency contact.
And when those days finally hit where you start asking yourself why you live here… just remember you don’t have to shovel the sunshine!