With hot weather approaching, it’s a good time to check your home’s energy efficiency. Energy experts say about 35 percent of home cooling is lost through the roof—and more through the walls, windows, and doors.
“Simple energy efficiency steps can make your home more comfortable while also easing the strain on your budget,” explains Allyson Schmutter, communications project manager for the Alliance to Save Energy in Washington, DC.
Keep Your Cool
Here are some ways the Alliance suggests saving on summer home energy bills.
- Consider an energy audit, especially if you’ve already upgraded windows or an air-conditioning system and bills remain high. Some utility companies offer free audits or you can hire a private company for about $400.
- Buy a programmable thermostat for $60 and $120 that adjusts temperatures automatically—and save about $180 a year, according to Energy Star. Smartphone apps allow you to dim lights and control thermostats, power strips and other connected devices from your phone. "Smartphone apps can put energy efficiency at your fingertips at a reasonable cost," Schmutter advises.
- Ceiling fans circulate air to help you feel cooler so you can leave the AC setting a few degrees higher. Be sure to turn the fan off when you leave the room, because fans cool people, not rooms.
- Check walls and windows for leaks and use a caulk gun to seal. Add weatherstripping under gaps in doors.
- Planting trees to shade windows and rooftops can reduce the air temperature around your home by as much as 9 degrees. The U.S. Department of Energy says that such energy-efficient landscaping provides a return on investment in about eight years.
- Curtains and shades on the sunny sides of your home will provide additional relief.