Sure, it’s still winter. But now’s the ideal time to get your home ready for another hot and muggy summer. Here are the top money-saving, energy-conserving tricks to use this year to keep your home comfortable all season long.
1. Evaluate and Repair Your A/C System
Start with the biggest energy user in your home: Your air conditioning system. An optimally-functioning, modern energy-efficient HVAC system generally pays for itself in lower energy bills.
You can hire a professional to thoroughly test your system, or start with a DIY inspection, then hire a pro if you find any problem spots. Make sure your ductwork is examined carefully for leaks.
Plan to make necessary repairs or upgrades now. HVAC professionals tend to get busy in summer, and you may find yourself waiting for service, or paying a premium for it.
One thing you can and definitely should do yourself: check your air filter monthly. Filters wear out more quickly during hot weather. Replace your filters as necessary. And consider switching out your old thermostat for a modern programmable one to save up to $100 a year.
2. Summer-Proof Your Attic
As we learned in grade school, hot air rises. And in your home, that hot air rises straight up into the roof, which also gets baked by the sun all day long. Result: your attic can be a real heat-trapping cap on your home.
Make sure your home is properly protected with at least six inches of insulation. Attic insulation can compact over time, so you may need to add some more.
Next, consider installing a whole-house fan in your attic. These fans utilize the cooler evening air to lower temperatures throughout the house, while also pulling the hot air out of the attic and out of the house entirely.
The end result is a much cooler home, for a lower cost.
3. Upgrade Your Lightbulbs
Did you know electric lighting represents about a quarter of the average home’s electricity budget?
If you’re using old-fashioned bulbs, consider upgrading them to compact fluorescent light bulbs -- especially for any bulbs that get heavy use and thus get replaced often.
CFLs generally last 10 times longer than ordinary ones. That can wind up saving you $50 per bulb. CFLs also emit less heat, reducing your cooling needs somewhat.
4. Sun-Proof Your Windows
Follow a three-pronged approach with windows:
First, inspect your window frames for gaps. If you find any, caulk them. Also make sure each window can be raised and lowered smoothly.
Second, reduce the amount of heat that transfers into your home through the windows. Install thick insulated blinds, especially on windows that face south or west, and consider adding exterior coverings or awnings if you don’t have any natural shade outside.
Finally, add some smart landscaping. Leafy trees and bushes can provide lots of shade and lower cooling costs in hot months.
5. Waterproof Your Home
Another area that can use some attention before hurricane season is your home’s waterproofing.
Check the ground near your house. Pooled water is a sign that your drainage needs some attention. Don’t let mulching touch your home. Instead, keep about six inches of space between any part of your home and the start of mulch or other material that soaks up water.
And don’t forget to clear out the gutters. Failing to take this step can lead to water intrusion and expensive damage.
6. Install -- and Properly Use -- Ceiling Fans
If your home doesn’t have ceiling fans, install them now in bedrooms and high-traffic living spaces. Ceiling fans help keep your home cool by pulling the hotter air up to the ceiling, then moving it down the walls, to a nice cool-breeze effect.
If you already have ceiling fans, make sure that they’re operating with a counter-clockwise spin.
7. Check the Fridge
Last but definitely not least, clean your refrigerator, inside and out. Clean dust and debris off the refrigerator’s coils for more efficient cooling and to reduce electricity usage.