It’s only April, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start thinking about saving money over the summer.
If your family is like so many others across Ontario, cutting back on energy use (and those horrendous monthly bills that came from running the air conditioner constantly) is a priority.
And it’s always a shock when you get the first bill back from a month of using the air conditioner.
We spend a lot of time thinking about home comfort and we have some easy tips to help you save without compromising your comfort.
What you can do inside the house.
- Don’t create heat inside the house. If you can cook outside, do it! You only have so many months to soak up the sun anyway, and it keeps you from using the stove inside. Only run the dish washer at night.
- In the summer, ceiling fans should run counter clockwise. This forces air downward, giving you the cooling breeze effect. The temperature doesn’t actually change, but the breeze helps your body move heat out, so it cools your temperature down.
- Plant trees around the house to provide shade, but avoid planting on the south side of the house if you want to benefit from passive solar heating in the winter. Some of the best shade trees include hybrid poplars, red maples, willow trees, and eastern white pines.
- If your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, a smart purchase in the next few years will be a new air conditioner. You can also look into ductless air conditioners if you live in an older home where ducts don’t make sense.
- If you’re already searching for a new air conditioner, don’t buy the biggest, most powerful one you can afford. Bigger isn’t always better. We will make recommendations based on the square footage of your house and a few other variables. The unit we recommend might be much smaller and affordable than you expect.
- In Toronto, new air conditioners should adequately manage high humidity. Models with variable or multi-speed blowers are generally best, broadly, for climate conditions along Lake Ontario.
- Make sure your ducts are sealed well, and insulate ducts running through unheated basements, crawl spaces, etc….
- Don’t avoid your annual professional maintenance. Moving parts inside your air conditioner wear down, fluid levels drop and (unfortunately, but realistically) problems develop through the year. Maintenance in regular intervals keeps your air conditioner running cleanly and efficiently.
What about the sun?
The sun beams in through your windows all day. The ambiance is great, but the heat isn’t. What can you do about it?
- Get yourself some light coloured (white is best) window shades or mini-blinds. Mini-blinds can reduce solar heat gain by 40-50%. That means your air conditioner has to work half as hard to keep the house cool, and you save big $$$.
- If nobody is home, close south and west-facing curtains tight during the day.
- Place bamboo shades outside some windows during the summer. This will stop most of the sun’s heat getting to the windows in the first place, another huge reprieve for the air conditioner trying to fight off that radiant heat.
…and two tips for your new AC.
- Have your new air conditioner installed in the shade. Direct sun can reduce air conditioner efficiency by about 10%, so keeping it cool can save you thousands of dollars over the lifespan of the unit.
- Clean the AC air filter monthly. Dust and debris can cut back cooling power by 1-2% every month, and cleaning the filter only takes about 5 minutes. You can clean an air conditioner filter 2-3 times before replacing it.
And that’s it, 13 ways to help keep your house cooler and more comfortable this summer.