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How to Dramatically Cut Cooling Costs

How to cut cooling costs

According to the Energy Resource Center, in 2013, the percentage of household income spent on utilities climbed 70 to 119 percent since 2001. Have your utility bills gone down since then? Thought so.

Step 1: Stop the leaks to cut cooling costs


The most energy efficient cooling system will still cost you plenty if your home has moderate to serious air leaks. You can perform a self inspection to spot obvious gaps around windows and doors. Seal them up and save.

The biggest leaks may be the ones you can’t see, your hvac systems duct work.

According to energystar.gov, your duct work could be losing 20-30% of the air moving through it due to leaks, holes and poor connections. That’s some serious dollars floating away into the hot air and out of your pocket.

Make sure that you have adequate attic insulation and make sure that your attic is well ventilated to allow heat to escape.

Get a FREE home energy audit.

TECO – Tampa Electric – offers free home audit checks online, by phone or in person. Call 813-275-3909 to complete a Phone-Assisted Audit or to schedule an In-Home Energy Audit.

Progress (Duke) Energy offers a free Home Energy Check. Call 877-574-0340 to request an appointment.

You may also opt for a more thorough “blower door test” performed by a professional energy auditor.


Energy Audit

You can read more about how to perform a blower door test here: https://energy.gov/energysaver/blower-door-tests.

STEP 2: Block the sun and block the heat to cut cooling costs


Keep heat from entering your home by covering your windows to block direct sunlight.

For a long term strategy, plant shade trees on the sides of your home that get the most sun.

For more immediate relief, here are some ways to block the sun and it’s heat by using various window treatments.

Awnings

Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain in the summer by up to 65% on south-facing windows and 77% on west-facing windows. DOE

Blinds

Highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45% DOE

Drapes

Medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33%. DOE

High-Reflectivity Films

The most effective are the silver, mirror-like films placed on east and west facing windows. DOE

Shades

Use dual shades—highly reflective (white) on one side and heat absorbing (dark) on the other side so they can be reversed depending upon the season. DOE

 

STEP 3: Eliminate interior sources of heat to cut cooling costs


Start in the kitchen since it’s the primary source of internal heat. Avoid using your oven and instead use an outdoor grill.

Use your kitchen exhaust fan to pull hot air out. Window fans can also be used to remove hot air. Just make sure they’re properly sealed to keep the hot air out.

Consider a whole house fan to quickly remove built up hot air inside. Make sure to open your windows when using a whole house fan.

Power off your TV, audio systems and computers when not in use. Go a step further and unplug them when possible as this will not only reduce additional heat, it will also protect them from the many lightning storms we experience here in the Tampa Bay area.

Use your bathroom exhaust fan to remove heat and humidity.

Make use of ceiling fans when you’re in the same room. Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. So turn them off when leaving the room as they will also generate heat without the benefit of making you feel cooler.

Replace heat generating incandescent light bulbs (90% of their energy is given off as heat) with  Energy Star rated CFLs or LEDs. They cost a bit more but not only give off far less heat, they save a substantial amount over the long term. LEDs use up to 25% less energy while lasting up to 25 times longer according to energy.gov. 

STEP 4: Maintain a healthy HVAC system to cut cooling costs


A programmable thermostat can save approximately $180 dollars every year when used correctly. [source]

Do

  • Set your thermostat to 78 or higher during the summer season
  • Set your thermostat to 68 or lower during the winter season
  • Use the thermostat’s energy savings “set point’s
  • Use multiple thermostats for large “zoned” dwellings
  • Avoid overriding the pre-programmed settings

Don’t

  • Use manual override in an attempt to quickly raise or lower the current temperature
  • Forget to regularly check your battery status

 

Check out these recommendations for using a programmable thermostat from the Department of Energy.


Keep your outside condenser coils clean and clear of vegetation which could restrict air flow.

Schedule a tune up to make sure your HVAC system is operating at peak efficiency.

Inspect your filter regularly and clean or change monthly.

If you’re considering replacing an older air conditioning system, look for Energy Star rated systems like these high efficiency air conditioners or if you also need a new heating source, these high efficiency heat pumps may qualify for up to $800 in rebates.

STEP 5:  Natural ways to cut cooling costs


If you’re planning on remodeling or building new, consider these natural cooling tips from history, before air conditioning was a thing:

natural cooling by design

  • Plant shade trees to block direct sunlight
  • Replace hardscapes with vegetation, which cools quicker and retains less heat
  • Add a porch to shade windows from direct sun/heat intrusion
  • Use passive roof ventilation to allow heat to escape
  • Higher ceilings provide more cooling space
  • Double hung windows allow cool air to enter (bottom window) and hot air to exit (top window)
    • Also provides for cross ventilation across a room and/or across opposing exterior walls
  • Ventilating transom windows above doors allow for better air flow

If you follow the above steps, you should be able to dramatically cut cooling costs, reduce energy consumption and pocket substantial savings, all while staying cool.

 

How to Cut Cooling Costs Video Recap

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