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15 Ways to Keep Cool for Less

July 15, 2017

Here in Middle TN, we use our air-conditioners more months of the year than our heat. In fact, the average electricity consumption for Tennessee households is 33% higher than the national average (EIA, 2015 report) and is among the highest in the nation! So anything that can help keep us cool while also saving money is a welcome relief!  Here are some tips to help you stay cool and save money during the summer:

First, let’s look inside your home…

  1. Install a programmable thermostat:  According to the US Dept of Energy, this can save you hundreds of dollars per year – and not just during the summer months, but year-round!
  1. Use LED lights:  LED bulbs are 75% more efficient because they eliminate most of the heat produced by traditional lighting… which means your air-conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard.
  1. Circulate the air:  Use a fan to keep the air moving, especially on upper floors.  Moving air causes faster evaporation from the skin and has a cooling effect – making it feel up to 8 degrees cooler – without touching that thermostat.
  1. Smart cooking:  Decrease indoor heat by using a microwave oven, rather than your thermal oven or stove, whenever possible.  Better yet, eat foods like salads that do not require cooking.  If you must boil or bake, do so in the evening when it’s cooler.
  1. Use exhaust fans wisely:  Make sure you turn on the vent fans in areas that create moisture, like the shower, bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room, and turn them off as soon as most of  the moisture has dissipated, so you’re not exhausting cold air to the outside!  If you do not have exhaust fans, consider installing some.
  1. Replace air filters:  every 3 months or more frequently, if needed. If you have spring and summer allergies, buy the higher quality air filters that can filter out pollens.
  1. Keep the sun out:  Use drapes, blinds, shades or screens to block the sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day, or when you’re not at home.
  1. Get a tune-up:  Regular maintenance by your HVAC system professional will keep your air-conditioning running at optimal efficiency and will address potential failures, thus saving you money in the long-run.
  1. Optimize air flow:  Make sure all supply and return vents are open and unblocked. Keep all doors and windows closed and make sure they’re well-sealed.  Seal any leaks in the ductwork and around windows.
  1. Insulate the attic:  Adding attic insulation, while making sure the attic is well-vented by keeping the eaves unobstructed, is the best investment you can make. And it pays for itself by saving you money year-round.

Now, let’s see what can be done outside your home to keep you cooler and save money….

  1. Clear it out: Keep the area surrounding your outdoor unit clear of all obstructions 2-3 feet all the way around. Don’t allow the lawn mower to discharge grass clippings into the unit. Weekly, remove debris such as leaves, pollen, and twigs from the top and sides of the outdoor unit, and keep plants and shrubs trimmed. If the outdoor unit is crowded by a fence or shrubs, or if the bottom few inches is buried under mulch, air-flow will be restricted, which decreases your air-conditioner’s efficiency, reduces its life span, and damages the unit.
  1. Provide shade: Keep your outside unit in the shade as much as possible. This can boost air conditioning efficiency by up to 10%.
  1. Light colors:  Just as wearing light-colored clothing helps keep you cooler, painting the exterior of your house a lighter color, or having a lighter colored roof will keep the home cooler. Although your house won’t absorb as much heat in the winter, the net energy savings in summer far exceed the energy penalty in the winter, especially in our region of the country.
  1. Upgrade your windows. Installing double or triple pane windows will save energy year-round. But, if you can’t do that, try adding a reflective window film to your existing windows.  This will reflect heat before it can come through the glass, and it’s transparent, so you can still see out.
  1. Update your HVAC: If your HVAC system is more than 15 years old, you can cut your utility bills by up to half if you switch it out for one of the new higher efficiency units. Or use some of the newer technologies, like a mini-split, in certain areas of your home.

At Interstate AC Service, we’re here for all your heating and air-conditioning needs.  If you live in the Nashville or surrounding area, call on us at 615-802-2665.  Let us help you keep cool this summer.