Even if winter is still hanging on, without a doubt things are going to heat up soon. And won’t that be wonderful—provided you’ve figured out ways to keep things cool indoors this summer without sending your utility bills through the stratosphere?
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If you could use some help in that regard, here are some tips, tricks, and great ideas that will help you stay cool without blowing a hole in the budget.
Whole house fan
A whole house fan (not to be confused with an attic fan) is installed in the attic and designed to ventilate the house whenever the outdoor air is cooler, which is typically after the sun sets—making it possible to turn the air conditioner off at night.
For a seasoned and experienced homeowner, installing a whole house fan is typically a do-it-yourself project. However, for a professional, it’s a quick and easy job. Learn more at the U.S. Department of Energy website.
Use them. Liberally. It costs about $3.70 a month to run a high-efficiency ceiling fan on high speed for 12 hours a day (assuming a cost of $.135 per kWh, which is the U.S. average), according to the Energy Use Calculator. The result is your home will feel about 7 degrees cooler simply because the air is circulating effectively. And that means your air conditioner will not have to work as hard to keep things comfortable.
This is a small, relatively inexpensive device that you can install yourself and will more than pay for itself in a single summer. Now you won’t have to keep remembering to turn the setting up or down, depending on if you are home. Simply program it to fit your lifestyle and you won’t waste money cooling the house when no one is home.
Cover the windows
Drapes, blinds, and shades are all very effective in reflecting the heat of the sun. Opt for those that are white and they’ll do an even better job. But they won’t do a lot of good unless you draw and lower the window coverings early in the morning before the house heats up.
As you landscape, consider planting trees on the south and west sides of your home. Select varieties that are fast-growing and have a thick canopy. Simply providing this type of shade for your home during the hot summer will likely help to reduce energy costs by up to 25 percent a year or more.
So what is the fastest growing shade tree? According to landscape experts, it’s the Royal Empress (aka Paulownia) tree, growing up to 60 feet in 3 years! However, before you rush out to get this particular fast-growing tree for your property, read up on the pros and cons.
If your attic is not well-insulated, you may be sending all that nice cooled air right out through the roof. Check with your utility providers to see if any are offering incentives to homeowners who beef up their homes’ insulation. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that your net cost to insulate will be quite reasonable.