The weather is warming up, which means it’s time to ditch the old box-fan-in-the-window set up and find more energy-efficient ways to cool off. You don’t want to have to resort to turning on the air conditioner to cut out the swelter factor — not only is running the A/C costly, but it can also be environmentally unfriendly if the system is inefficient.
Still, you can’t ignore the inevitable much longer — hot weather is right around the corner. There are a few easy check-ups and inexpensive changes you can implement to make your place more summer-friendly and wallet-friendly.
Weatherstrip your windows and doors.
This is a simple and inexpensive way to keep your house at a comfortable temperature. Cool air escapes and warm air leeches in if you’ve got windows and doors that don’t close all the way. Put rubber weatherstripping on the inside of stubborn windowpanes or metal door jambs, where the door meets the floor. Your rooms will stay cooler and you’ll save the money you spent on the upgrade within one year.
Plant trees and shrubs close to the house.
Consider this part of nature’s insulation plan. If you plant leafy shrubbery around the foundation of your home, you’ll have a layer of protection between your home and the sun’s rays. Your foundation, as it heats up, can have a huge impact on the temperature inside your home. Additionally, if your home doesn’t currently have the benefit of sitting underneath tree cover, you’re losing the armor of shade. Plant trees near east- and west-facing windows to ensure your leafy canopy protects your home from both sunrise and sunset.
Practice natural ventilation.
Mother Nature is already doing all the work – you just need to harness it. Open up the windows and doors on opposite ends of the house, a maneuver that will create a natural vacuum of cooler breezes through your home. If you have a second floor, opening the windows upstairs will not only push out the warmest air, but it will pull in more air through the downstairs windows, as well.
Keep on top of your home maintenance.
The little things might mean big changes to your bottom line. If you do decide to run your air conditioner, change out the filter to ensure your A/C isn’t working overtime for minimal output. Change the direction of your ceiling fans from their clockwise winter settings, so they blow cool air downward. Check the surroundings of your thermostat to make sure there aren’t lights or TV sets close to it. The heat these electrical items omit can cause your thermostat to get an incorrect read, resulting in your A/C running when it’s not necessary.
Many of these activities can be done in a weekend, and after making some simple changes around your homestead, you might have years of energy efficiency ahead of you. At the very least, perhaps you’ll get in the habit of turning on the A/C less, and at the most, you might get a lifetime’s enjoyment out of the new trees planted outside your home. Either way, you’ll be freeing up money in your pocket.
Erin Ladd is a home-improvement writer with Redbeacon.com, a home-services website that connects consumers with qualified pros for their home-project lists.