Stay cool this summer while limiting energy consumption

Drawing blinds on hot days can help homeowners keep the interiors of their homes cool.

For many homeowners, summer is all about staying cool. But that comfort comes with a hefty price tag. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, air conditioners cost homeowners more than $29 billion a year in energy costs. While that’s often money well spent, there are ways to stay cool this summer while simultaneously limiting energy consumption.
Air conditioners are a necessity in areas where temperatures rise to uncomfortable and often unhealthy levels in the summertime. But employing air conditioners is not the only way for homeowners to keep their homes cool during the dog days of summer.
· Embrace strategic landscaping. The landscaping outside of a home can contribute to cooler climates inside the home. Deciduous trees shed their leaves annually, and when planted on the western and southern sides of a home, these trees can block the sun from entering the home during the hottest times of day, reducing the need to lower the thermostat on air conditioners. Of course, when these trees shed their leaves in late fall, sunlight can then make its way into the home, potentially reducing heating costs.
· Maintain air conditioners. Air conditioners contain air filters that, over time, can wear down and become dirty. The DOE notes that the relatively simple task of replacing and cleaning these air filters can reduce air conditioners’ energy consumption by as much as 15 percent. If the unit does not respond after routine filter maintenance, the DOE ( lists issues with refrigerant, thermostat sensors and drainage as some common air conditioner problems. Homeowners who suspect these issues can contact certified professionals to inspect their units and perform any necessary repairs.
· Install ceiling fans. Cool people in a given room by installing ceiling fans in areas of the home that might be warm but not too hot during the summertime. Modern ceiling fans with the ENERGY STAR® logo can be as much as 75 percent more efficient than older models, and ceiling fans typically consume far less energy than air conditioners. Install fans that can rotate forward and in reverse, as the direction the fan is rotating can actually heat or cool a room. Consult the owner’s manual to determine which direction fans should be rotating in on hot and cold days.
· Draw the blinds or close the drapes on especially hot days. Drawing blinds and closing drapes can keep the sun out of the home, lowering temperatures inside as a result. While many homeowners understandably do not want their homes to be dark all day long, on especially hot days when the summer is bearing down, drawing the blinds or closing the drapes can have a substantial impact on comfort levels inside the home.
Air conditioners help to keep homes cool on hot summer days and nights. But homeowners who want to stay cool while cutting their energy costs can try various alternatives to air conditioners when the temperatures allow.

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