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Top 7 tips for lowering summertime energy costs

The official first day of summer isn’t until June 21, but the 90-plus-degree days we experienced earlier this month are an indication that summertime in the Upstate has arrived.

One of the questions we get a lot from area homeowners is how to stay cool during the summer without breaking the bank with electricity bills. Here are our Top 7 tips on keeping energy costs low when the temperatures are high:

1. Check your home insulation. This is a critical first step to help control cooling and heating costs. Cracks and openings around windows and doors in your home means outside air is coming in and conditioned air is escaping. Caulking and weather stripping are simple and effective air-sealing techniques.

2. Properly maintain your air conditioning system. There is nothing better for your air conditioning system than annual maintenance that allows your system to work at peak efficiency year in and year out. A system that is maintained annually experiences considerably fewer breakdowns and virtually eliminates paying for costly repairs. In some instances, the energy savings are enough to pay the cost of the planned annual maintenance service.

3. Change your air filter. Air filters in your home typically fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” category but they are extremely important to HVAC system efficiency. At Davis Services, we recommend that you replace the air filter in your home every time you pay your power bill. Remember that proper air flow is directly related to system efficiency.

4. Pull drapes or close blinds to block the sun. Window treatments not only look nice in your home, they also can help keep your house from heating up during hot summer days. Closing blinds can reduce heat gain by up to 45 percent and pulling drapes can reduce heat gain by 33 percent.

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5. Use your ceiling fan. Some will argue that use of a ceiling fan will increase your power bill due to running the fan motor, which uses energy. I believe that a ceiling fan is a great complement to your air conditioning system. If I am using ceiling fans to circulate air and provide a more even temperature throughout the home, I am reducing the run-time of the home’s HVAC system. Basically, the t-stat will meet the setpoint temperature sooner, thus turning the system off and reducing operating costs.

6. Use a programmable thermostat. Constantly adjusting your thermostat up and down is not only a hassle, it’s not good for your air conditioning unit. A programmable thermostat allows you to ‘program’ the indoor air temperature for the hours that your home will be vacant and when you will be asleep.

7. Avoid cranking down the air conditioner. Icing down the house after coming in from sweltering heat can be expensive. Keep your thermostat on a reasonable setting and look for other ways to cool down when you come inside – have a cold glass of water, place a cold compress on the back of your neck or change into cooler clothing.

About the Author
Nick Davis is co-owner of Spartanburg-based Davis Services, Inc. He grew up in the company, learning the business through jobs in installation, maintenance, home performance and residential sales of conventional and geothermal systems. Nick presently is the company’s marketing director and coordinator of Davis Services’ apprenticeship program.


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