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Saving energy in the summer heat

By Mary Ripley on  June 23, 2017

Summertime in Northeast Ohio is a long-awaited friend. But it comes with a price, literally. In summer, the average household spends nearly as much to cool the home as it does for all other home-related energy uses combined. So before you blow up the beach ball, get your home ready to handle the heat as efficiently as possible.

Put your windows to work. At night, when the temperature dips, turn off your air conditioning and open your windows. Close them in the morning to trap in the cooler air. Install window coverings, like blinds or shades and keep them drawn during the hottest part of the day to block out heat.

Tame your thermostat. Raise the temperature on your thermostat when you are going to be away and lower it again when you return. A programmable thermostat makes this a lot easier and more efficient. Set it to lower the temperature ½ hour before you arrive home so it will be comfortable when you get there.

Don’t try to cool the yard. Cool air seeping out through gaps in your windows in the summer can devastate your energy bill just like wind whistling in through those gaps in the winter. Use weather stripping to seal off leaks in doors and windows. If you use window-unit air conditioners, be sure they fit snugly in place. Plug any openings around the unit where air can escape.

Give your cooling system a hand: Schedule maintenance for cooling equipment in late spring just as you do for your furnace at the end of fall. Clean your air conditioner filters once a month by running water through them and letting them air dry.

Keep heat-producing appliances, like lamps and televisions, away from your thermostat. Otherwise, it will think the air is warmer than it is, and your cooling system will work harder than necessary. Maximize the airflow in your home by making sure all vents are open and no furniture is blocking them.

If you have window air conditioning, try to keep the unit out of direct sunlight and make sure that it has plenty of airflow. It will work much harder to get rid of the heat if it is in the sun or a tight space.

Cool it old school. Before you seal up the windows and crank up the air conditioning, ask yourself if you can get by without it. You might be surprised at how comfortable you can make your home with fresh air and a few strategically placed fans.

To pull hot air out of your home, place fans blowing outward in windows that face away from the prevailing wind. To bring air in, turn the fans around to blow inward and place them in windows that receive a breeze and are near shaded outdoor areas. No matter which way the fan is facing, be sure windows on the opposite side of the house are open to create a cross breeze.

It’s summertime. Why are you heating your home? You may not realize it, but that is exactly what you are doing if you are burning incandescent bulbs, using your clothes dryer, baking casseroles and running your dishwasher.

Only 10 to 15 percent of the energy used by incandescent bulbs produces light. The rest generates heat. If you haven’t already switched to energy-efficient bulbs, now may be the time.

Consider drying your dishes in a sink-side dish rack and hanging your laundry outside to dry. Plan cold salads and sandwiches for dinner a few nights a week, and make good use of your backyard grill. That’s what summer is all about anyway, right?

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