As the old song goes, “We’re having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave.”
Well it’s okay to sing and dance, but when the temperature soars your home can really be an energy trap, sucking money right out of your wallet. But if you just take advantage of a few simple tips, you can stay comfortable without emptying your bank account.
The first thing everyone does when the weather forecasters start talking about 90-something-degree days is to run to the thermostat. However you really should set it as high as you are comfortable – the smaller the difference is between in inside and outside temperature, the lower your energy bill. Most experts say you should keep the temperature inside set to 78 degrees. Every degree lower than that will result in 3 to 5 percent more energy being used.
That being said, a programmable “smart” thermostat unit is truly a life-saver during extreme heat (and cold). They can be set according to your schedule. Why cool an entire home when no one is there? The smart versions enable you to control the temperature with your phone even when you are not at home.
Keeping the blinds and curtains closed during the day will also help keep the interior in check. If you have a ceiling fan, using that can help make you feel cooler without raising the temperatures. Those with a whole-house fan should open the windows and run the unit in the early morning and at night to pull cool air into the house.
Homeowners should also avoid using high energy appliances during peak hours. That means don’t run the oven, dishwasher, washer, or dryer between the hours of 9:00 am and 9:00 pm. Not only will it save you energy, but it will also help keep the overall house cooler. Besides who want to cook a six-course Thanksgiving dinner when it’s easier to cook something on the grill (or better yet, just have ice cream!).
It goes without saying that a well-maintained HVAC system can save you a lot of money. Be sure to practice a routine of replacing filters regularly. A dirty filter makes the system work even harder to push out cold air. A general rule of thumb is to change the filter every 90 days or so. If you have pets or allergies, you might want to move that timeline up a bit.
Homeowners should have their HVAC systems checked by a professional on a regular basis. Do these hardworking people a favor and don’t wait to call them for a routine service check when you realize that it will be a scorcher in a few hours. Call before the season starts or be prepared to wait until they can fit you into the schedule. (The same applies for the winter months.)
Quality windows and doors make a huge difference in keep homes cool (and warm). While it is highly unlikely that you can do anything about it this week, it may be time to start thinking of investing these energy-saving products for future seasons. You’ll notice the difference when the heat comes and also when the electric bill shows up.
There’s no avoiding the heat in Pennsylvania during the summer. But there are ways to manage it without spending a fortune to stay comfortable in your home.
So pour yourself another cold glass of lemonade and push the thermostat up another degree or two. As that television show reminds us “Winter is coming.”