To reduce your AC’s appetite, here are seven tips to keep your home cool as long as possible to delay your AC from turning on:
1) Set the thermostat for when you leave home, and for sleep.
No point in paying for energy you're not using!
Set the thermostat to 26C (79F) or higher when you leave your home in the morning, and drop it to 24C (75F) or lower an hour before going to bed.
What I also do is close the upstairs vents to the areas that are not that important to concentrate the cold air where needed for sleeping comfortably.
2) If you have a basement, cover the ceiling vents!
Cold air falls, and basements are naturally cooler in the summer because they're below ground. Often, the basement is like a freezer when the AC is on, and the rest of the house is just barely cool.
Before the summer season I close the ceiling vents in the basement, and cover them with a magnetic cover. Then, I tape it to the vent’s frame to minimize cold air leakage. The basement is still very cool, but not freezing!
3) Cover your windows!
In the summer, the heat will enter your home from the windows, so cover them in the early morning until the evening when it is cooler.
I have blinds on all the windows, which are energy efficient, including those facing north, and the skylights.
On very hot days, I also close the curtains, which are lined to prevent deterioration of the fabric from the sun. I know these are effective barriers because I’ve cleaned the windows on a warm, not hot day, and it was unbearably hot between the blinds and the windows.
The added benefit of having the blinds down is that my pictures, and furniture don’t fade because they’re protected from the sun’s rays.
If you have shutters, have the slats face downward to have sunlight without the heat.
4) Use LED lights
LED lights generate far less heat than incandescent or fluorescent lightbulbs (CFC), so there is less heat in the home to cool.
I got rid of my incandescent lightbulbs, and replaced most of my CFC and halogen lightbulbs with LED. The first thing I noticed about LED lightbulbs is they do not get hot.
If you don't have LED lightbulbs, then turn off all the lights you don't need, especially during the day. Also, unplug any appliances/lights you don’t need, and leave the plug visible so that you know it is unplugged(it’s annoying to wait indefinitely for bread to be toasted when you don’t know the toaster is not plugged in).
5) Change your Cuisine
The kitchen is the energy hog of your home, and in a heat wave, the heat from the appliances (stove, burners, dishwasher, etc.) will make your home hotter, which affects your AC (In the 1800 and early 1900’s, pioneer houses had a summer kitchen so that the cooking heat wouldn't go into the house).
Do not use your oven! Minimize using your electric burners! Have more quick meals!
During a heat wave, I value the toaster oven. I value it more than the microwave. It takes less energy to heat, and generates much less heat than the oven. I can make a banana bread, pie, cook fish, etc. As long as the dish or item fits in, then I can cook it!
I also have a gas cooktop. The advantage is that the energy is on demand,and there is no residual heat left after the element is turned off.
I also got rid of my coffee machine and replaced it with a coffee press. It takes less room on the counter, and it doesn't make all that steam. I boil the water, pour it on the coffee grains, stir, and it is ready to enjoy!
During a heat wave, I wash the dishes that I need, and use the dishwashers a discreet dirty dish rack until it is cooler to turn on the dishwasher.
6) Turn off your Appliances when not in use
Computers, laptops, televisions, stereos, etc. generate a lot of heat. Turn them off when you’re not using them! Better yet, unplug them.
7) Minimize your Dryer Use
Get rid of your plush towels, and replace them with bath sheets. Get a clothes rack, or line to hang clothing like towels, jeans, and table cloths in your laundry room that can dry naturally.
I found that by doing so, the dryer is on for 15 instead of 45 minutes!
The easiest way to save money on energy is to use it wisely. It just requires a cultural change to make a difference.
Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese
SMV Energy Solutions