Saving money in hot weather

Posted July 7, 2010
Updated June 29, 2012

The N.C. Energy Office offers these tips for reducing energy use in the home and at work:

  • Set the thermostat to 78 to 80 degrees or higher when your home or business is occupied, and 85 degrees when unoccupied. Consider installing a programmable thermostat, which can be bought at most major home improvement stores, to perform this task for you.
  • Do not set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on the air conditioner. It will not cool the building faster and, if you forget to change the setting, can result in excessive cooling and unnecessary energy consumption.
  • Use shades and blinds to keep the sun out and secure windows tightly to prevent air conditioning loss.
  • Station fans in areas of your home or work where you spend time. Consider installing ceiling fans in bedrooms and other high occupancy areas. Use ceiling fans only when a room is occupied.
  • Perform regular maintenance on cooling equipment such as cleaning condenser coils, checking refrigerant pressures, changing belts and filters and fixing duct leaks.
  • If replacing a central air conditioning unit any older appliances and electronic equipment, consider ENERGY STAR® products, which use significantly less energy.
  • Place your gas water heater on “vacation” mode or turn off your electric water heater when you leave town for extended periods of time.
  • Use full washer loads when washing clothes or dishes, and use the air-drying cycle instead of the heat-drying cycle.
  • Install or replace worn weather stripping on exterior doors, windows or attic entry doors.
  • Make sure central air-conditioning systems or window units are properly sized. EPA says a system that’s too large will not keep your home comfortable due to frequent “on/off” cycling. Incorrect sizing can also put stress on system components and shorten the equipment’s life. A qualified contractor can help you ensure proper sizing.
  • Clean or replace air filters monthly and window unit filters even more frequently.
  • A programmable thermostat automatically coordinates indoor temperatures with your daily and weekend patterns, reducing cooling bills by up to 10 percent by raising the indoor temperature while the house is empty – yet ensuring that when you return home, it’s cool and comfortable.
  • Do energy-intensive household chores such as laundry and dishwashing to off-peak hours – nights, mornings, weekends – when there is less strain on the power grid. Operate these units with full loads to get the most for your energy dollars
  • Light up your life – efficiently. Compact fluorescent light bulbs don’t add to your heat load – a bonus in the summertime.
  • Purchase the AC unit with the highest Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) that you can afford – the higher the SEER level, the more energy efficient the equipment. Current federal appliance standards require a SEER rating of at least 13 on CAC systems.

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