By Aryeh Goetz
Director of Neighborhood Investment, CHAI
The Farmer’s Almanac predicts this summer will be hotter and rainier than normal, with the hottest periods in early to mid-July and early to mid-August. But knowing ahead of time that we’ll need to stay cool during the summer is only half the battle. What’s the other half? Preparation!
By trying these simple tips, you can keep your home cool and comfortable, while also cutting your cooling costs. It’s good for the environment and good for your wallet!
1. Use ceiling fans
The interesting thing about fans is that they don’t actually cool a room; they just make it feel cooler, by blowing the hot air away from your body. Fans can make a room feel up to seven degrees cooler, and they use much less electricity than the air conditioner. So make sure your ceiling fans are turned on high before you turn the temperature down. Box fans are a great alternative if you don’t already have ceiling fans around your home.
2. Replace the air filter
Clogged filters will limit your air conditioner’s effectiveness and are expensive. Show your AC unit some love and change the filter. You can pick up new, inexpensive filters at a grocery or home improvement store. Remember to check the size of the filter before purchasing. For best results, replace the filters once a month.
3. Cover your windows
Window treatments are not just a design element: they can help keep heat out, thereby reducing your electricity bill. If you have blinds or curtains, keep them closed. If you are looking to purchase new window treatments for your home, know that lighter colored fabrics deflect the sun’s rays better. Insulated curtains will do the best job of keeping the heat out.
4. Turn off heat generators
Running computers and televisions all day will put out a lot of heat. Be sure to turn them off when you aren’t using them and unplug them, too. Using the oven or stove will also heat up your home in a flash.
5. Avoid setting the thermostat excessively low
Sure, it’s tempting to crank the air conditioner down to 65 after spending time outdoors when it’s 100 degrees (or higher). But this won’t cool your home any faster. Even worse, you might forget that you set it extremely low, resulting in unnecessary cooling costs.
6. Smart Ways to Save on the AC
- Set the thermostat at 70° to 75°F when you’re home and 80°F when you’re not. Don’t turn it off completely before leaving the house. It can cost more to cool the house back down once it overheats.
- Position electric devices like lamps, TVs, or computers at least a few feet away from your AC thermostat. The AC can sense heat from these appliances, which can cause it to run longer than necessary.
- Place room units on the north side of the house when possible. An AC unit operating in the shade uses up to 10 percent less electricity than one in the sun.
- Know when to upgrade. In terms of energy use, you may want to consider a new AC if yours is more than 10 years old (window unit) or 12 years old (central air) — and definitely if it’s not cooling as well as it used to. It will save up to 30 percent off your bill.
8. Remember: Heat Rises
Attics can reach temps of 150°F. Take measures to properly insulate this area from the rest of the house: Install sweeps and weather-stripping around the door.
CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. wants you to know that there is help for the hot and weary! With the CHAI Energy Savings Loans, you can receive an interest-free loan of up to $10,000 to use toward home improvements that will help make your home more energy efficient. There are no income restrictions. You can live in the 21215 zip code in the city or in Pikesville, Mt. Washington, Owings Mills, Reisterstown or Randallstown!
Visit chaibaltimore.org to apply for the Energy Savings Loan. You can download the application right from our homepage.
Wishing you an enjoyable, safe and cool summer!