Keep your cool this summer

BLOCK THE SUNLIGHT:

Direct sunlight streaming in through windows can be a significant source of heat during the hottest part of the day. To save money, close blinds and drapes to keep sunlight out.

CAULK AND WEATHERSTRIP:

Small cracks and leaks in your house draw hot air in and work against your air conditioner 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To find leaks, check doors and windows for any drafts or visible light, then fill the holes. With a little caulk and weather-stripping, you can make your house tighter – and more energy efficient – in a matter of minutes.

ADD OR INCREASE INSULATION:

Adding attic insulation can be costly, but if your summer energy bills are out of control, you may save money in the long run. Most homes don’t have enough insulation to ensure maximum efficiency, but homeowners should invest in a professional home energy audit before making any major efficiency improvements. Look for certified auditors with credentials from organizations like the Building Performance Institute (BPI) – they have special training and tools that allow them to analyze your home and recommend the most cost-effective improvements. To find BPI-certified professionals in your area, visit bpi.org.

LANDSCAPE TO ADD SHADE AND REDUCE REFLECTION:

Adding shade trees, installing trellises and climbing vines on sunny walls, and re-thinking driveways and other hard surfaces around your house can reduce the amount of sunlight – and heat – that gets in.

TIGHTEN, REPLACE OR INSULATE DUCTWORK:

You can lose as much as a third of the cool air coming out of the AC unit if it travels through leaky duct-work. Professional HVAC contractors can quickly find and fix problems system-wide, but homeowners can also make their own repairs to any exposed ductwork. Check the integrity of seams, and then apply a paint-on resin like mastic to keep the cool air flowing to the rooms of your home, not the crawl spaces.

CHANGE THE WAY YOU COOK:

Use small appliances or cook outdoors on the grill. Microwaves and toaster ovens generate less heat than a full-sized oven or a cooktop. Use the exhaust fan to draw heat out-doors, and fit the burner size to the pan, so as little heat escapes into the room as possible.

Add a fan:

Using a fan along with air conditioning can make a room feel four degrees cooler. Box and circulating fans can help, but a ceiling fan is the best option for moving air throughout a room. Home improvement stores offer models for as little as $50, and installation can often be a do-it-yourself job. However, fans are only effective when people are in the room.

Turn off unnecessary lights and tv:

Leaving lights and the TV on when you leave the room is an obvious energy-waster, but in summer months it delivers a double whammy by also generating unwanted heat. Incandescent bulbs, for example, give off 90 percent of their energy as heat, not light. Summer is a good time to consider replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Not only do CFLs use less power to light up the room, they also generate considerably less heat.

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