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DIY Tips and Tricks for Summertime Savings

With summer upon us, lots of people are looking for ways to keep cool without the cost. Heating and cooling runs the average household about $875 a year—nearly half the home’s total energy bill.

Beyond the energy bill, there’s also a cost to the environment. Did you know that the energy used in the average house can cause about twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as the average car? To help us save this summer, experts at ENERGY STAR have shared with us some tips and tricks.

Easy to Moderate Effort:

Energy efficiency doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time or money. Try out these DIY projects for energy savings.

  • shutterstock_92965054Install and properly use a programmable thermostat: A programmable thermostat is one of the best ways to save energy all year long. Use it to automatically lower your air conditioning and heating when you don’t need it. Raising the temperature seven degrees when no one’s home and four degrees at bedtime during the summer, along with proper programming in the winter, can save you more than $180 annually.
  • HVAC Maintenance: When was the last time you checked to make sure that your HVAC system was working properly? A few simple moves will make sure that your system is working efficiently.
    • Check your air filter every month, changing it whenever it is dirty (at least every 3 months). Dirty filters block air flow, making your system work harder to keep your house cool.
    • Your car isn’t the only thing you own that needs scheduled maintenance. Have a contractor give your HVAC equipment an annual tune up. Your system will work better, keeping you cooler all summer long.
  • Install ENERGY STAR light bulbs: If you still haven’t switched out your old light bulbs for energy efficient options, an ENERGY STAR LED bulb makeover is a great summer project! ENERGY STAR certified bulbs use 70-90% less energy than incandescent bulbs, giving off much less heat inside your home. They can save $30-$75 each in energy bills and last over 20 years, so this is a project that will make a difference for years to come. With prices falling dramatically all over the country, THIS is the time to make the switch to ENERGY STAR LED bulbs!
  • Shade your home: Outfit your home with shades, blinds, curtains and awnings, especially on the south and west sides of your home where the sun is hottest. This simple move will keep the hot rays of the sun out of your home, bringing down the temperature.

Larger Effort:

If you are looking for a bigger project, try out one of these energy savers. Some are still possible as a do-it-yourself project, and others are a better fit for a skilled contractor.

  •  shutterstock_134073479Duct Sealing and Insulating: Ducts that move air to-and-from a forced air furnace, central AC or heat pump are often big energy wasters. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20%–sometimes much more.
    • Use duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape to seal the seams and connections of ducts that run through your attic, crawlspace, unheated basement or garage.
    • After sealing, wrap the ducts in insulation to keep them from getting hot in the summer.
    • Next, look to seal any other ducts in the home. Make sure that connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet the floors, walls and ceiling.
  • Seal and Insulate Air Leaks: Air leaks make it a lot harder to keep the cool air inside during the summer. Find the air leaks around your home (door and window trim are good places to tackle first) and seal them with spray form, caulk and weather stripping. Sealing and insulating your home can save you up to $200 in annual utility bills. For detailed guidance check out Home Sealing Improvement.

 

See more tips at ENERGY STAR.

Thermostat image and Window insulation image via Shutterstock.

by Editor

Friday, June 5th, 2015 at 08:46
  • Jun 24th, 2015 at 11:35 | #1

    Thanks for sharing this article with us! My wife and I are always trying to be efficient with our air conditioning—especially in the warm summer months! I’ll be sure to follow your suggestion by installing a programmable thermostat; I’m sure that it’ll save me lots of money. Here’s to lowing my energy bill! I can’t wait!

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