The Department of Energy reports the average family spends $1,900 a year on utility bills and 12 percent of the typical bill goes to cooling the home. While rising temperatures are sending utility bills through the roof, avoid reaching for the thermostat and try these five steps first:
- Turn off the lights. Light bulbs are great at illuminating rooms, but they also have a knack for increasing indoor temperatures. Of the energy a traditional incandescent light bulb consumes, only 10 percent is used to create light. The remainder is given off as heat. To manage indoor temperatures, keep lamps and overhead lights off during the day, relying on natural light instead. Also, consider switching to Energy Star qualified light bulbs which produce 75 percent less heat and last significantly longer than traditional bulbs.
- Keep window shades and blinds closed. Vampires have the right idea when it comes to keeping sunlight out. This is especially true for homes during the summer. Sunlight that is allowed in will cause indoor temperatures to rise. To help make the home more comfortable during the day, ensure all blinds and shades are drawn, especially those on the sunniest side of the house.
- Use fans wisely. Fans do more than root for their favorite team. Fans of the ceiling and box variety can make a big difference when it comes to staying cool during the summer. Fans do not reduce indoor temperatures, but they make people feel cooler by producing a wind chill effect as the breeze blows across the skin. Since fans do not actually lower air temperatures, remember to turn them off in unoccupied rooms so energy is not wasted.
- Avoid using the oven and stove. The oven and stove are not the only ways to make a hot meal, but they are a sure-fire way to elevate indoor temperatures. Ovens and stoves produce a lot of heat, which can escape into the living space. Instead of firing up the stove or the oven, try using the microwave or outdoor grill instead. This will help keep taste buds satisfied and indoor temperatures cool and comfortable.
- Seal air ducts. Springing a leak is never a good thing, and it is especially true when it comes to air ducts. In most homes, leaky ducts lose 20 percent of the air they are carrying before it even reaches the living space. To make sure you get all of the cooled air you paid for and to maximize the cooling systems efficiency, inspect the ducts for leaks and seal them where necessary.