6 Tips to efficiently cool your home

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Ah – summer in Fort Collins! It’s time to get outdoors and see all that Fort Collins and Northern Colorado has to offer. But, when you’re home during the hot days, it can be hard to stay cool. With this in mind, we wanted to give you some tips and tricks to efficiently cool your home, while maximizing comfort for you and your family.

Tip #1: Window coverings are for more than keeping the light out while you’re trying to sleep or decoration. Good honeycomb or cellular blinds, or even heavier curtains, can help reflect the sunlight and heat that can make your home unbearably hot. Keep ‘em closed during the day, and your home will stay noticeably cooler!

Tip #2: Use the bathroom fan for 20 minutes after you shower. It’ll get rid of the hot, humid air that causes your air conditioning to work harder. And, it’ll help ensure that the moisture left in the air after a shower doesn’t turn into mold in your walls.

Tip #3: Open your home’s windows in the evening when it starts to cool down, and leave them open throughout the night. Close them in the morning when the outside temperature starts to rise. Doing this will help keep your home cooler longer into the day, and reduce the amount of time that your air conditioner runs.

Tip #4: Ceiling and oscillating fans are much more energy efficient than window A/C or central air units. Cool your home with fans as long as possible to save energy. And, fans used in tandem with your air conditioning unit will help make the work your air conditioning unit does more effective.

Tip #5: Using your oven or stove top to cook on hot summer days will only make your house warmer. Instead, consider grilling outdoors to keep the heat outside. And, who doesn’t love some good barbeque? If you don’t have an outdoor grill, using a microwave to cook as many of your meals as possible will also ensure that your house stays cooler when compared to using an oven/stove top.

Tip #6: Programmable thermostats can help save a lot of energy in your home. By installing a programmable thermostat, you can set your A/C to a higher temperature when no one is home during the day, and at night when outdoor temperatures are lower. What should you set it to? Some thermostats have an easy to select Energy Star setting, or you can program to these temperatures to help maximize efficiency:

While home: set temperature to 78°F+

While away: set temperature to 85°F+

While sleeping: 82°F+

Because 48% of your home’s energy can be attributed to the efforts that go into cooling it, try these methods to help keep your home as cool as possible, without using a lot of energy. Need more tips and tricks to save energy at home? Check out lose-a-watt.com for other simple tips and tricks!

Energy Efficiency on a Budget

Change bulbs to LEDs

What comes to mind when you think of energy efficiency projects for your home? Do you think of replacing your windows with those that have a higher energy performance rating? Or, about replacing your insulation to better regulate how your home maintains its temperature? While these bigger, higher-priced projects may come to mind first, there are actually several smaller projects you can tackle to help save energy and money at home.

Let’s say you have $100 (give or take a few dollars) to spend on energy efficiency upgrades for your home. What are some of the things that you can do?

  • Light ‘em up…with LEDs. Suppose your home has 30 light bulbs. A $100 spend would help you replace 25 of those light bulbs with $4 LED light bulbs from a home improvement store.
  • Treat your furnace to new filters. If you change your furnace filter every three months, and you go with the cheap filters that cost $1 or less, you could turn that $100 into filters for your furnace for the next 25 years! Don’t want to send all that waste to the landfill? Consider purchasing a washable filter that usually costs around $20. Or, purchase two so you’ve got a backup while you’re cleaning one of them. Even then, you’ve still got $60 left to make other efficiency improvements!
  • Put some shade on your house. Consider planting trees in areas that could help shade your home from the hot summer sun. You can purchase shade trees from a nursery, and with some of them costing less than $10 each, you could get as many as 10 of them for your yard. Okay – it’s not instant gratification, but if you spend money on trees that can grow and one day shade your home, it’s worth it. You can find a list of recommended trees for our area at fcgov.com.
  • Seal the gaps. One of the areas where your home loses the most energy is around your windows and doors, and the best way to remedy that is by caulking around all of them. A 10 oz. container of caulk can cover roughly 55 linear feet, and would cover roughly three and a half 3’x5’ windows in your home. If you had nine windows on the exterior of your home, you’d need no more than five containers to do your entire home. That, plus a caulking gun would cost you roughly $15.

If you don’t have $100 to throw at energy efficiency projects, no worries! There are plenty of other things you can do that won’t cost you a penny.

  • Not using it? Unplug it! Even when you’re not using an appliance or electronic device, it can still be pulling electricity to maintain its standby light or tell you what time it is. If it’s not something that you use on a regular basis, unplug it.
  • Cool off after dark. Now that it’s summer, the days can be almost unbearably hot. If you want to reduce the amount of energy your A/C system uses, open your windows at night and leave them open until it starts to warm up outside the next morning. Your house will stay cooler longer, reducing the need to use A/C.
  • Spread the love. Fans use significantly less energy than an air conditioner or central air. Rather than turning down the temperature on your A/C even further, use any existing fans in your home to maximize the effect and spread the cool air that your air conditioner puts out.

Making a home more energy efficient isn’t always as expensive or time-consuming as it seems. Compare notes with your neighbors, watch for deals on products like LED light bulbs, and take on some of the smaller projects yourself. You’ll be amazed with the amount of energy and money that you save in the long run!

What are some no- or low-cost things that you do at home to save energy? Let us know in the comments!