Residential heating and cooling system account for the majority of energy usage than any other system in the average American home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, air conditioning systems consume over 40 percent of the total electricity produced in the U.S. during the summer months.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the amount of energy you use to cool your home, and they can be done without sacrificing your comfort or breaking the bank.
These tips will help keep your home cooler and more comfortable, and will help reduce your monthly energy bills. They’ll also prolong the life of your heating and cooling system, and help you avoid unexpected air conditioning repairs.
The simplest, and most economical way to reduce your cooling costs is to reduce the exchange between hot outdoor air and the cool, air conditioned air inside your home. Here are three ways to do it.
One of the simplest ways to keep your home cooler in the summer is to protect it from hot, outdoor air by making sure it is properly insulated. Weather stripping around doors and windows, and making sure your attic has the proper type and amount of insulation will keep your home cooler in the summer, and warmer in the colder months.
Weather stripping can be purchased at any home and garden center, and comes in a variety of types for a wide range of applications including exterior doors and windows, garage doors, and interior electrical outlets and light switches. Small cracks around door and window frames can also allow cool interior air to escape your home, and should be sealed with weather-resistant caulk. For most homeowners, caulking and weather stripping is a quick and affordable way to reduce their monthly cooling costs.
In Rhode Island, attic temperatures can climb into the triple digits during the summer months, and without proper insulation, a good deal of that heat can be radiated downward into your home’s living spaces. Installing the right type and density of insulation can keep this from happening. Insulation comes in a variety of types including batts and rolls, foam boards and loose-fill, also referred to as blown-in insulation.
The type and amount of attic insulation you use depends on a number of factors, including whether you wish to do the job yourself, or hire a contractor. If you decide to hire a contractor to do the job, you can expect to pay between $1,500 to $2,000 to insulate up to 800 sq. ft. of attic space, depending on the type and thickness of the insulation. The good news is that increasing your attic insulation from R-11 to R-49 can reduce your annual electricity costs by about $600, so you can recoup the cost of the job within the first three years.
Proper landscaping can also have a dramatic impact on your energy bills year round. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, planting shade trees along the south and west sides or your home can reduce your annual cooling costs by between $100 and $250. When selecting trees, it’s recommended that you opt for deciduous trees which offer shade in the summer, and allow the sun to warm your home during the winter months. Shrubs and climbing vines also act as a radiant barrier which can keep your home cooler, and your energy bills under control.