To Lighten Your Energy Bills, Lower Your Cooling Load
Americans spend about $11.9 billion to keep their homes cool each summer. On an individual level, you probably devote a great portion of your summer energy budget to air conditioning.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep the cooling load down, which cuts the amount of heat that enters your home in the first place. Here are some basic ways to keep your home cooler without spending more on air conditioning.
- Block the sun: The sun’s heat is the primary cause of heat gain in any enclosed space. Therefore, if you can block the sun with shades, awnings, or strategically planted trees, you have a way to shade your home against the relentless summer sun.
- Seal off the attic: Dark shingles and the enclosed space cause tremendous heat gain in the attic. Make sure attic ventilation is up to par, that the attic floor is sealed, and that adequate insulation covers every inch of the floor to prevent air leaks from the attic.
- Seal windows and doors: This measure is useful whether you’re trying to reduce cooling loads in the summer or heating loads in the winter. Leaky windows and doors allow hot, humid outdoor air to get inside during the summer. Apply caulk and weatherstripping around windows and door frames to help keep hot air out.
- Seal ductwork: If you have central air conditioning, you could be losing energy in the duct system. Leaky, un-insulated ducts are responsible for tremendous energy waste. In fact, energy savings of 10 to 25 percent are typical, and even 30 to 50 savings are possible when you seal your ducts.
- Reduce the cooling load from the inside: Save heat-generating tasks such as using the dishwasher, dryer, stove, or oven for the evening when it’s cooler outside. Replace inefficient incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones and insulate your water heater.