Keeping Cool

Before the summer’s heat becomes even more oppressive, take a few tips from the EPA’s Energy Star program and lower your cooling bills and your temperature.

Service your HVAC system annually to keep it running at peak condition.

Service your HVAC system annually to keep it running at peak condition.

iStockphoto.com/Timothy Babasade

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Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program offers low to no-cost energy-efficient cooling tips to beat the heat.  A typical household spends almost 20 percent of its utility bill on cooling, and by taking steps this summer to improve energy efficiency, you can save energy, save money and help fight climate change. 

Try these simple tips to start saving today.

 

No-Cost Tips:

● Program your thermostat to work around your family’s summer schedule – set it a few degrees higher (such as 78 degrees) when no one is home, so your cooling system isn’t cooling an empty house. With proper use, programmable thermostats can save you about $180 a year in energy costs.

● Check your HVAC system’s air filter every month. If the filter looks dirty, change it, but change the filter at least every three months. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make the system work harder to keep you cool, wasting energy.

● Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze. If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. Remember that ceiling fans cool you, not the room, so when you leave the room make sure to turn off the fan.

● Pull the curtains and shades closed before you leave your home to keep the sun’s rays from overheating the interior of your home. If you can, move container trees and plants in front of sun-exposed windows to serve as shade.

 

Low-Cost Tips:

● Remember to have your HVAC system serviced annually to ensure it’s running at optimum efficiency for money and energy savings.

● Swap out incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient lighting choices. Energy Star qualified lighting not only uses less energy, it also produces about 75 percent less heat than incandescent lighting, so cooling bills will be reduced, too.

● Seal your air ducts. As much as 20 percent of the air moving through your home’s duct system is lost due to leaks and poor connections. Seal duct work using mastic sealant or metal tape and insulate all the ducts that you can access (such as those in attics, crawlspaces, unfinished basements, and garages).

● Make sure that connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet floors, walls, and ceilings. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork.

 

Other Tips:

● When buying a room air conditioner, look for one that has earned EPA’s Energy Star. If every room air conditioner in the United States were Energy Star qualified, they would prevent 900 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually—equivalent to the emissions from 80,000 cars.

● Add insulation to your attic to keep cool air in. If every household in the United States did so, Americans would collectively save more than $1.8 billion in yearly energy costs.

● Hire a contractor to seal and insulate the interior ductwork in your home (the ducts you can’t reach yourself). For help on choosing the right contractor, go to the Energy Star website.

● If your central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with a model that has earned EPA’s Energy Star could cut your cooling costs by 30 percent.

For more information about keeping cool and comfortable while saving money this season, visit the EPA’s Energy Star website.