As temperatures rise, you’ll be tempted to crank up the AC. But think about what that’ll mean for your electric bill.
Luckily, there’s more than one way to avoid overheating this summer. There are steps you can take to make sure your air conditioner runs efficiently. Your wallet — and Mother Earth — will thank you for it.
Here's some tips from Hippo, a home insurance company.
Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates
Receive a summary of the day’s popular and trending stories from Omaha.com.
Change HVAC filters
The No. 1 way to keep your air conditioner from breaking down is to change the air filter regularly. Dirty filters reduce air quality, slow circulation and force your air conditioning unit to work harder. Usually, you can get away with changing your filter once every few months. In the summer, we recommend replacing your AC filter every four to six weeks. Filters are cheap and easy to replace. It’s best to keep a few at home in case you need them.
Seal entry points
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, securing entry points can increase the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling systems by 20%. Better insulation and tighter seals will keep your home cool in the summer and warm when winter rolls around. Start by caulking any leaks or cracks around your windows. Add weather stripping if necessary. Then, check attics, walls, crawl spaces and the spaces around your doors.
Keeping your home cool in the summer can be costly if your windows and doors are absorbing too much heat. Planting deciduous trees, sun-loving plants and tall shrubs might save you money by blocking some sunlight. It might also improve your home’s appearance and potentially increase the value of your property. Focus on areas of your home that receive the most sun and look for heat-tolerant varieties such as palm trees, dwarf fig trees and mimosa trees.
Shut those blinds
Don’t believe your windows are letting in too much heat? Just try closing your blinds. That can lower indoor temperatures by up to 20 degrees! Drawing the blinds will prevent your home from feeling like a greenhouse, where sunlight and heat enter but don’t escape. If you want to block as much sunlight as possible, try buying blackout or light-colored curtains with plastic backings.
Keep interior doors open
In the summer, the doors that you use to enter and exit your home should ideally be kept shut. Interior doors, on the other hand, should be kept open so that air can move freely throughout your home. If there’s a room in your home with a lot of windows, however, keeping the door closed is the best way to keep cool air inside.
Swap out incandescent light bulbs
Let the summer motivate you to invest in some energy-efficient lighting. Incandescent bulbs produce as much heat as they do light, wasting about 90% of the energy they use. As your bulbs burn out, try installing compact fluorescent lamps and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). If you can’t get rid of your incandescent bulbs, try to use them less often. If you’re trying to save money this summer, the same rule of thumb should apply when it comes to using your electronics.
Alter your fan’s setting
Installing fans is a great way to limit your reliance on air conditioning. You’ll have to be smart about the way you use your fan, however. When it comes to ceiling fans, make sure they’re set to spin counter-clockwise. Run then at a higher speed when you have several people in the same room. Consider placing a bowl of ice in front of a large fan if you don’t mind an occasional mist.
If you’re willing to invest in them, smart devices like programmable thermostats can also help keep your home cool. They analyze local temperatures and use motion sensors to adjust the AC. You can even program these thermostats from your phone.
On top of keeping your house cool, you should also do what you can to keep yourself cool this summer. Shed extra layers and sip iced drinks to keep your body temperature down. When you feel too hot, apply a cold cloth to pulse points on your neck and wrist.
If your home has multiple floors, remember that heat rises. Choosing to spend time on the lowest floor or in the basement can make a big difference. Looking for more tips? Try taking cold showers, do your chores after the sun goes down and use your grill instead of your stove or oven to cook dinner.