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How to keep your home cooler during the summer


Hello, this is Chris from John C. Flood offering up some tips to help keep your home cool this summer. If they're saying time is money that certainly holds true during those hot summer days in the amount of time and strain on your central air conditioning and wall units. Money and a lot of it.

Here's some suggestions on alternate means to keep your home cool and take some time and strain off your air conditioning units. Open windows and use portable or ceiling fans instead of operating your air conditioner. Even mild air movement of one mile per hour can make you feel three or four degrees cooler. Make sure your ceiling fan is turned down for the summer. You should feel the air blowing downward. If you live in a relatively dry climate, a bowl or tray of ice in front of a box fan can cool you as it evaporates. Use a fan with your window air conditioner to spread the cool air throughout your home. Also, without blocking air flow, shade your outside compressor and change air filters monthly during the summer. Use a programmable thermostat with your air conditioner to adjust the setting at night or when no one is home. It doesn't make sense to cool your home when you're gone, but it's hard to remember to tweak your thermostat every day before you leave for work.

Program your thermostat to go up by five degrees about 30 minutes or so before you leave and have it come back to your normal temperature a half hour before you return. For added savings, program it to also raise the thermostat by two or three degrees through the night. You're unlikely to notice the change in your sleep. Turn up the thermostat a degree or two, it is recommended that you set your thermostat at 78 degrees during the summer if you have a central air conditioning unit. It's a pleasant temperature but isn't necessarily the cheapest setting. If you can handle it, raise your thermostat by one or two degrees and realize a savings of about 6 to 7% for each degree above 78.

Don't place lamps or TV's near your air conditioning thermostat. The heat from these appliances will cause the air conditioner to run longer. Put in an attic fan, hot air rises so your attic is often the hottest place in your house. In the absence of proper ventilation, this air circulates throughout your living space. As a result your air conditioner works even more to cool the living space. This additional load on the air conditioning system may lead to a substantial increase in your power bills. Attic fans are often seen as a simple, cheap and easy to implement method of attic ventilation. Since the hot air in your attic can reach temperatures in excess of 150 degrees Fahrenheit, replacing this with cooler air at about 85 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, your living space remains cooler for a longer duration. Moreover, the load upon your air conditioner reduces, thereby reducing your electricity bills.

Run your furnace fan. Many thermostats will allow you to tell the fan to run without initiating the furnace or air conditioner. By turning on your furnace fan, you cause the air to be circulated throughout the house, balancing out any cold or hot spots so that your whole house feels more comfortable. An added benefit is that is will trap any potential allergens that have been introduced by opening your windows. Just make sure to regularly check the furnace filter and replace it when it's dark enough to block light passing through it. Install white window shades, drapes or blinds to reflect heat away from your house. Close curtains on south and west facing windows during the day. Install awnings on south facing windows. Because of the angle of the sun, trees, a trellis or a fence will best shade west facing windows. Apply sun control or other reflective films on south facing windows.

Close unused vents. If you're not using a particular room very often, consider closing the vent in that room so you're not cooling dead space. This will allow more cool air to come out of the other open vents, potentially allowing you to add some additional cooling to a room that wasn't getting it otherwise. Little things mean a lot here, so replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, they produce the same light but use about a fifth of the energy and heat. Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle. Use a microwave oven instead of a conventional electric range or oven. Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use. Plug in your home electronics, such as TV's, DVD players, stereos, etc. into power strips and turn the strips off when equipment is not in use.

Lower the thermostat on your water heater. Hundred and fifteen degrees is comfortable for most uses. Take showers instead of baths to reduce hot water use. Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. And I don't know how often you've heard this but I know I did quite a bit as a child, don't air condition the whole neighborhood. Caulking and weather stripping will keep cool air in during the summer. If you see holes or separated joints in your ducts, hire a professional to repair them. Add insulation around air conditioning ducts where they are located in unconditioned spaces such as attics, crawl spaces and garages. Do this same for the whole house fans where they're open to the exterior or to the attic. Also check to see that your fireplace damper is tightly closed.

A ten year old air conditioner for example is half as efficient as a new one. A quick check of your air conditioner's efficiency can help you decide whether to call in a service professional. Use a household thermometer to measure the temperature of the discharge air from a register and the temperature of the return air, at the return air grill. Keep the thermometer in place for five minutes to get a steady temperature, the difference should be from between 14 and 20 degrees experts say. An air conditioner that's not cooling to these levels could be low on refrigerant or have leaks. A unit cooling more than 20 degrees could have a severe blockage.

Using light shingles on a new roof can cut the amount of heat that the house absorbs. Repainting in a light color, especially south and west facing exteriors helps also. Upgrading insulation in the attic and double pane windows all around complete with tinting to reflect sunlight are good ideas as well. Now no one is expecting you to enact all these tips, but if we all put some of these ideas into action, we can stay cool, cut costs and save energy. All good things during these blazing summer heat days.

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