Photo courtesy of Ernest Bludger
The summertime temperatures are slowly climbing in the Austin area! Hot summers in Texas typically equal higher utility bills for local homeowners. From changing your air filter to installing a programmable thermostat, there are tons of simple fixes you can make around your home to make it more energy-efficient. Here are a few tips to get your home ready for the Texas summer heat:
1. Inspect your home for leaks and cracks. Cool air quickly escapes through these spaces, which can cause your air conditioner to run almost constantly. That adds up quickly! Apply some caulk or sealant around windows, doors and other spaces to plug these leaks. Don’t forget to check outside your home, too. If you’re not sure where cool air is escaping in your home, consider hiring a professional to conduct a home energy audit.
2. Check your air conditioner. There’s nothing worse on a hot summer day than a broken air conditioner. It’s a good idea to have a technician inspect your unit before the peak of the Texas summer in July and August. The hottest days are usually when technicians are the busiest. Keep your indoor unit dust-free and your outdoor unit clear of plants and other debris.
3. Replace your air filter. This simple fix helps keep your air conditioner working properly. It will also catch dust and other allergens in the air. Clean the air vents in each room to keep air flowing properly throughout your home.
4. Install a programmable thermostat. This device allows you to accurately select the temperature in your home at specific times during the day to prevent your system from running when it’s not needed. You can even program some models with a set schedule for every day of the week. While the initial cost of a programmable thermostat can be high, some utility companies offer incentives to customers who install one. It’s well worth the investment.
5. Cover windows with blinds and curtains. This is especially important for east and west facing windows. Blinds and curtains help keep the sun and heat from entering your home. You can even install new window screens or replace old screens with solar film.
6. Install ceiling fans. Fans circulate cool air and help your air conditioner work more efficiently. New Energy Star rated fans can save you even more money on utility costs. You also feel cooler thanks to the slight breeze on your skin.
7. Replace light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs. These bulbs use 75% less energy and last longer than regular bulbs. Energy-efficient bulbs also produce less heat than standard bulbs. This small investment can go a long way to help you save on cooling costs.
8. Run appliances during off-peak hours. Peak hours during the summer are typically between 4 - 6 pm (late afternoon to early evening). Some energy companies charge a higher price during these hours. If at all possible, run your washer, dryer, dishwasher and other appliances during the morning, late evening or overnight. Using the oven can heat up your home, so why not take advantage of the sunny weather and use the grill?