There are simple steps you can take to get your home ready for summer energy usage–specifically checking your home’s heating and air-conditioning system. These 11 tips come courtesy of Solarday.com, a solar energy and green lifestyles portal.
1. To begin, change your filters in your heating/cooling system. Change them regularly – at least monthly.
2. Next change your thermostat over to “cool” and test the system by turning the temperature down. If the air conditioner does not turn on, first check to make sure no breakers are tripped. If you can’t figure out the problem, call your heating and air-conditioning repair person. (Don’t have one? Try ServiceMagic, which has always treated me well.) Calling early may keep you from making an “emergency” call when the temperatures are soaring and the repair people are super busy and expensive.
3. If your cooling system turns on, make sure it is putting out adequate cooling. If it’s not, and you can’t figure out the problem, call your heating and air-conditioning repair person. Set the thermostat at 78 degrees.
4. If your air conditioner needs replacement, do it before the hot weather hits. This way you’re not wilting because the heating and air-conditioning repair people are very busy.
5. Your air ducts may need testing for leaks and then sealed. Your attic insulation probably has compacted, so you need to add an additional 5 to 8 inches. Your windows and doors and other parts of the building envelope may need caulking and weather stripping. Think about solar window film to keep out the heat.
6. Consider changing your old thermostat to a programmable one. You can save up to $100 a year by using a new set-back thermostat. If your thermostat is really old and uses a mercury switch (a glass tube filed with yes, mercury, a silvery substance), call your local public works department to find out how to dispose of this toxic material–or log onto Earth 911 to find out where you can dispose of it locally.
7. Installing a whole-house fan that uses cool air in the evening to cool the entire house and push hot air out of the attic area can keep your house comfortable for less cash.
8. If you cover your air conditioner’s condenser unit (the part that is outside the house) for the winter, take off the cover and clean the coils. Clear areas around the condenser unit so that it has full air flow.
9. Ceiling fans can help reduce your need to use the air conditioner. (Make sure you give them a good dusting before turning them on for the first time.)
10. Take down the old storm windows (if you live in areas where you need them) and get those screens cleaned and ready to put up.
11. And don’t forget your car’s heating and cooling systems. If you haven’t turned on your car air conditioner for months it may be out of coolant, so check it before taking a long, hot, summer drive.