Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April is the month to make sure that your air conditioners are in top shape.

Soon enough, we’ll stop complaining about the cold and start complaining about the heat.
  • Replace your old central air conditioner with a new Energy Star-qualified model to reduce your cooling costs by 20 percent.
  • Keep your room air conditioner out of the sun. Room air conditioners work best when kept cool. Installing one in a north-facing wall is usually ideal.
  • Set your thermostat to 78° F if you have central air conditioning. You can also save an additional 6 percent to 7 percent off your cooling costs for each degree above 78° F you set it.
  • Use a ceiling fan or portable fan along with air conditioning. Fans can make you feel 3° F to 4° F cooler so you can set your AC a few degrees higher because the moving air increases evaporation from your skin and cools you off. Plus, a fan only costs a half-cent per hour to operate, so you can save on your energy bill.
  • Turn off the AC or set the thermostat up a few degrees when you leave home.
  • Be sure your air conditioner is not blocked so that it operates at peak efficiency. Check that furniture isn’t blocking the return air grill inside your house.
  • Keep doors and windows closed when using AC.
  • Turn off kitchen or bathroom exhaust fans when using AC.
  • Examine air filters once a month and clean or replace them when necessary. A dusty filter reduces air flow, so keeping them clean can cut your energy consumption 5 percent to 15 percent.

You may not believe it, but spring is coming.

It officially arrives at 7:21 p.m. on Sunday, March 20.

So, while you wait to thaw, implement these easy energy-saving tips for spring. The warmth will come. Eventually.
  • Schedule a pre-season checkup of your central air conditioning system.
  • Make sure that gutters and downspouts drain away from the house to reduce moisture around your foundation.
  • Adjust outdoor light timers since the days are (yay!) getting a little longer.
  • Lower your thermostat a little as temperatures outside get warmer. You can cut up to 10 percent on your utility bill by setting the thermostat to 65.
  • Check all the ceiling fans in your home to be sure they are working properly and are dust free.
  • Change the air flow of your ceiling fan to counterclockwise. Most fans have a switch you can flip to change rotation.
  • Use an exhaust fan to draw hot air out of your kitchen while you’re cooking.
  • Dust all the lightbulbs in your house to keep them clean and allow more light.
  • Make sure that the tracks on sliding doors and windows are clean. A dirty track can ruin the seal and create gaps that allow cold air or heat to escape.
  • Check your attic or crawlspace to make sure varmints haven’t set up home. Spring is when a critter’s thoughts turn to romance and open or loose vents and torn screens are like a welcome mat. Plus, where there are openings, there are drafts.