Energy Efficient Cooling Tips

— Written By Trudy Pickett and last updated by

Wondering how to keep your house as cool as possible during these hot summer months? The recent heat spell on the East Coast makes us wish for more energy efficient cooling while keeping the comfort level as high as possible. Follow these tips to feel cooler this summer.

Reduce the cooling load by employing cost-effective conservation measures. Provide effective shade for east and west windows. When possible, delay heat-generating activities such as dishwashing until evening on hot days.

Over most of the cooling season, keep the house closed tight during the day. Don’t let in unwanted heat and humidity. Ventilate at night either naturally or with fans.

You can help get rid of unwanted heat through ventilation if the temperature of the incoming air is 77 F or lower. (This strategy works most effectively at night and on cooler days.) Window fans for ventilation are a good option if used properly. They should be located on the downwind side of the house facing out. A window should be open in each room. Interior doors must remain open to allow airflow.

Use ceiling fans to increase comfort levels at higher thermostat settings. The standard human comfort range for light clothing in the summer is between 72 F and 78 F. To extend the comfort range to 82 F, you need a breeze of about 2.5 ft./sec or 1.7 mph. A slow-turning ceiling-mounted paddle fan can easily provide this airflow.

In hot climates, plant shade trees around the house. Don’t plant trees on the South if you want to benefit from passive solar heating in the winter.

If buying a new air conditioner, be sure that it is properly sized. Get professional assistance from an energy auditor or air conditioning contractor.

Buy a high-efficiency air conditioner: for room air conditioners, the energy efficiency ratio (EER) rating should be above 10; for central air conditioners, look for a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating above 12.

In hot, humid climates, make sure that the air conditioner you buy will adequately get rid of high humidity. Models with variable or multi-speed blowers are generally best. Try to keep moisture sources out of the house.

Try not to use a dehumidifier at the same time your air conditioner is operating. The dehumidifier will increase the cooling load and force the air conditioner to work harder.

Seal all air conditioner ducts, and insulate ducts that run through unheated basements, crawl spaces, and attics. Maintain your air conditioners properly to maximize efficiency.

Keep the thermostat set at 78 degrees F or higher if using ceiling fans. Clean your A/C’s air filter every month during cooling season. Normal dust build-up can reduce airflow by 1 percent per week.

Source: Annie Bond, www.care2.com