By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
July 17,2017, 11:20:38AM,EDT
As the temperatures rise, so does energy consumption as air conditioners operate to keep homes cool during the sweltering summer heat.Constant usage of air conditioners and fans can cause electric bills to soar, but by following a few simple tips, people can keep their homes comfortable while reducing energy consumption.
1. Open windows on cool nights
Those that keep their air conditioning running around the clock may be able to save some energy with the help of Mother Nature.
Opening windows on cool nights is a free way to have some fresh, cool air flowing through your house.
“If you live in a climate where it cools off at night, turn off your cooling system and open your windows while sleeping,” the Department of Energy (DOE) said.
This may not work for everyone, especially for those that live in cities such as Phoenix or Las Vegas, where it does not get cool on summer nights.
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Those using this strategy should also be sure to close their windows in the morning before temperatures outside begin to climb. Otherwise, the cooler air inside will be quickly replaced by the building summer heat.
Closing the blinds on windows during the daytime will also help to keep it cooler indoors by blocking the warming rays of the summer sun.
2. Turn up the thermostat when no one is home
One of the easiest ways to conserve energy in the summer is to turn up the temperature on air conditioning when no one is at home.
This conservation technique works in any case, even if it means just turning the thermostat up for an hour or two while the family is out at dinner.
Programmable thermostats can be set to a higher temperature for most of the day, but then set it to a lower temperature shortly before people return home after a long day at school or work.
When departing for an extended vacation, make sure to adjust levels before leaving as it could make a big difference in the next electric bill.
The DOE recommends setting the thermostat at 78 degrees Fahrenheit only when people are home and when cooling is needed.
3. Seal windows that are not in use
Making a few small adjustments around the house cannot only save energy in the summer but can also be beneficial in the winter.
“Reducing the amount of air that leaks in and out of your home is a cost-effective way to cut heating and cooling costs, improve durability, increase comfort, and create a healthier indoor environment,” the DOE said.
The most common areas for air leaks in homes are windows, doors and vents that lead outside.
Adding weatherstrips to windows or doors is a quick way to prevent air from leaking out of the house, while caulk can be used in other cracks or seams as a longer-term solution.
Using weatherstrips or caulk to seal a window means that it cannot be opened at night, so people should only use this method on windows that are not opened often.
4. Use fans to help ventilate a room
Using a fan in conjunction with air conditioning may sound like it would require more energy, but it may help electric bills in the long run.
“If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4ºF with no reduction in comfort,” the DOE said.
The breeze from the fan creates a cooling effect, making it feel cooler than the actual air temperature.
However, it is important to turn off any fans when leaving a room as a running fan in an empty room will just contribute to an unneeded increase in electricity consumption.
5. Perform regular maintenance on air conditioning units
Making sure that air conditioning units are running efficiently is another way to help conserve energy during the summer months.
“The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters,” the DOE said.
Cleaning or replacing filters is an easy task that only takes a few minutes to complete.
A clean filter can make an air conditioning unit 5 to 15 percent more efficient than a dirty one, according to the DOE.
Other maintenance may require the help of a professional, such as checking and replacing refrigerant, measuring the airflow through the evaporator coil and checking the accuracy of the thermostat.
For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.