Keeping cool during an Arkansas summer is not easy, especially on a budget.
This summer presents the added challenge of being home more due to COVID-19. But you can still save energy and money with these home cooling tips.
Inside the house
Turn the fans on – Ceiling fans, box fans, whatever! Ceiling fans make the room feel cooler because they create a breeze. Just remember to turn them off if no one is in the room. You won’t use much electricity running fans (not near as much as the A/C), but there’s no sense wasting energy!
Air conditioning – Check filters and replace as needed – usually once a month. Dirty filters can reduce the efficiency of your system. Cleaning or replacing dirty air filters can save 5 percent of the energy used to run the A/C system. Have a professional check and clean equipment every year. Set your thermostat comfortably high in the summer and dress accordingly. Set the thermostat to 72 degrees or higher. Start by increasing it just a degree or two. For every degree above 72 degrees, you will save 5 percent on cooling costs.
Away from home? – While you’re away from home, turn your thermostat back 10-15 degrees. If you turn the thermostat back for at least eight hours a day, you can save approximately 10 percent on your heating bills. A common misconception is that a system works harder than normal to return the space to a comfortable temperature after the thermostat has been set back. This misconception has been dispelled by years of research and numerous studies, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Thermostats – You might consider installing a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat can be set to return the living space to a comfortable temperature before you arrive. You select the times the heating or air-conditioning comes on, according to your pre-set schedule. Most programmable thermostats can store and repeat six or more temperature settings a day. You can manually override the temperature setting without interfering with the rest of the daily or weekly schedule. Look for the Energy Star label indicating the most energy efficient products. The price is approximately $29-$75.
Inside and out
Insulation – Make sure your home is properly insulated. Make sure your attic and roof area are properly insulated to keep heat from coming in.
Windows – Caulking and weatherstripping windows will also help keep heat out. When your house was built, the builder likely installed the amount of insulation recommended at that time. If you have an older home, have an inspector check the insulation.
Watch for gaps – Seal gaps around pipes, ductwork and chimneys. Inside the home, you can add blackout or heat-blocking curtains to naturally insulate a room. Just remember to keep the curtains closed during the sunny parts of the day.
Katie Cullum is a county extension agent – family and consumer science for the White County Cooperative Extension Service. She can be emailed at email@example.com or called at (501) 268-5394. Visit www.uaex.edu/White for more information.