As summer temperatures rise, your energy consumption and your utility bills can rise, too! Air conditioners, for instance, are responsible for almost 20 percent of household electricity usage. A total of 98.8 million American homes are equipped with air conditioners that cost $11 billion annually. Air conditioners can have adverse effects on the environment, too. Air conditioner use in the United States creates 100 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year. And, some models contain chemical coolants that are detrimental to public health and to natural resources.
You don’t have to sacrifice comfort for conservation, though, if you implement simple and sustainable methods to save energy, money and Mother Nature.
- If you are in the market for a new climate control system, choose an Energy Star model that contains safer, more environmentally sound coolants.
- Properly discard defunct climate control systems. Federal law requires the recovery of coolants prior to the disposal of the unit.
- Schedule regular maintenance for your existing climate control system to ensure that it is operating at its peak efficiency and to avoid costly repairs.
- Set thermostats at 78 degrees during occupied hours and at 85 degrees during unoccupied hours in accordance with Army regulations. Duke Energy estimates that for every degree you raise the temperature on your thermostat, you can save three to five percent on cooling costs.
- Change your air filters to ensure that your air conditioner is cooling efficiently. Clean air filters will also improve air quality in your home or office and reduce your exposure to allergens and pollutants.
- Keep windows and doors closed when your air conditioner is in operation to contain cooled air.
- Use ceiling fans to maintain air circulation. The average 48 inch, 75 watt ceiling fan costs only 50 to 90 cents each month to operate for ten hours each day. Ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat by four degrees with no reduction in comfort. When purchasing a ceiling fan, choose an Energy Star model to further conserve energy.
- Close blinds, shades and curtains to minimize the heating effects of direct sunlight. Sunny windows account for 40 percent of unwanted heat in homes.
- Prevent unnecessary heating in your kitchen by preparing meals on your range top or in your microwave instead of in your oven. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a microwave uses an average of 43 percent less energy than a stove.
- Lights, electronics and appliances can generate heat. When and where possible, use natural lighting during the day, and keep lights turned off in vacant rooms. Power down and unplug appliances and electronics when they are not in use. Run your heat generating appliances such as dishwashers and dryers after dark when the ambient temperature is cooler and electrical loads are reduced.
- Reduce your use of hot water, especially when temperatures are at their peaks. Turn the thermostat on your water heater down to 120 degrees.
- If you use incandescent lights, choose bulbs with a lower wattage to reduce heat. Or, change your bulbs to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs). They generate less heat and consume less energy than incandescent bulbs.
- Seal any drafts around doors and windows to keep cooled air contained and to prevent hot air from infiltrating your structure.
- Dress for the weather, and stay hydrated.