Energy Saving Tips For Spring

Warm weather is coming and now is the time to think about saving energy before it’s so freaking hot that you just don’t care anymore. Here are some quick tips for cooling your home without spending any more money than is necessary:

• Put window air conditioners on the north side of the building. According to the Department of Energy, “A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.”

• Setting your thermostat to a colder temperature doesn’t make the house cool down faster, silly.

• Set your thermostat as high as you can stand it. This is probably 2 or 3 degrees higher than you think it is.

• Listen to your Dad. Keep the doors and windows shut tight. “What, are we air-conditioning the entire state of Illinois in here?”

• Lower the shades to prevent “solar gain.”

• Interior fans keep the air moving and the electric bill low.

• Don’t forget about a cross breeze! Open windows on each side of the house and enjoy the fresh air.

• Shut your computer down, computers make the room hot!

—MEGHANN MARCO

Air conditioners [Department of Energy]
(Photo: miek37)

Comments

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  1. B says:

    Also, wait till summer. You don’t really need AC during April and May, no matter where you live. (If you do, you’re living in the wrong place).

  2. Most definitely on the fan tip. I’m in a south-facing 2nd-floor apartment with no a/c, but my ceiling fans make every room comfortable in all but 100+ degree weather. And it barely affects my electricity bill.

  3. Myron says:

    The extra energy an incandescent bulb needs vs. a fluorescent is wasted as heat. So when air conditioning you get a double savings with fluorescent: once in not paying for the waste heat, and once again not paying to pump the waste heat out with AC.

    Of course in the winter, if you heat with electricity, then use incandescent to your hearts content. It’s not costing you anything more.

  4. indianaguy says:

    @consumerist

    the monitor puts of the most heat, you can keep the computer on, put it into hibernate and turn off the monitor.

  5. Lower the shades to prevent “solar gain.”

    You can also get insulated curtains or “lined” curtains. We got these for winter for our big picture window to keep the heat in, but it turns out they’re also really good at keeping the hot OUT in the summer when they’re pulled closed, much more efficiently than the “regular” curtains.

  6. Nickelking says:

    I usually use 2 box fans for the whole house, one aimed in on the shaded side and pointing out on the sunny side. Makes a really nice airflow and keeps the higher temps much more bearable.

  7. ironchef says:

    use CF lightbulbs.
    they generate 60% less heat.

    Also, try putting low “low-E” window tinting. That will save a ton of heat from entering the building in the first place.

  8. HearsMusic says:

    @B: It would be really nice to be able to wait until summer. But when you sleep on the third floor of a poorly-insulated 100+ year old house without central air…well the window unit went in this afternoon. It was already over 85 degrees up there at night with the windows open.

  9. TinaB says:

    @B:

    Phoenix freakin’ Arizona. It’s going to be 98 next week.

  10. pestie says:

    I’m in west central Florida and it’s already hit 90 in the last couple weeks. Funny thing, though – I was talking to friends of mine in Massachusetts the other day and they were telling me how their electric bill tops $300 in the summer due to air conditioning. Between the economies of scale offered by my central air and the fact that my house is newer than theirs, I spend less than they do in the middle of summer (maybe $230, tops). For those who think even that’s an outrageously high electric bill, I’ll say this – it’s worth every penny. And my comfort zone is warmer than most people’s, too (75-76 indoors).

  11. spoonyfork says:

    Do you need air conditioning? Seriously, need? How many thousands of years have humans been on this planet without air conditioning? Save yourself some money while saving the planet: turn the air conditioning off.

  12. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I have a single 5000 BTU window unit that I put in the bedroom about mid-July until the end of September. The whole house has ceiling fans and is quite pleasant for a good part of the summer without AC. Because of where I live, it cools off at night for the most part..most of the work the AC does is reduce the humidity from 95% to 50%, and that can make all the difference. It was a fairly high efficiency unit, and I just set it on low for the night so I can sleep. I honestly didn’t even notice a difference in the electric bill, since I run it at night when it’s cooling of anyway.

    @spoonyfork: Sure, nobody needs air conditioning, but nobody needs indoor plumbing, electricity, telephones, a soft bed, central heat, or the internet..all of which humankind has survived without for thousands of years, but all of those things sure as hell are nice to have.

  13. FLConsumer says:

    There’s a few things in this which are incorrect:

    Setting your thermostat to a colder temperature doesn’t make the house cool down faster, silly.

    If you have one of the higher-efficiency multiple-stage units (or even some of the fancier window units), setting a lower setpoint will cause the system to increase blower speed and turn on additional stages of cooling if you have them.

    Interior fans keep the air moving and the electric bill low.

    Interior fans keep PEOPLE feeling cooler, but they don’t do anything towards making the house cooler. If you’re away for any length of time, turn the fans off.

    While you’re at it, turn off the AC when you’re not there either. Contrary to popular belief, it uses MORE electricity to leave the AC running and maintain a constant temperature than it does to shut it off and let it catch up either by a set-back thermostat or when you get home.

    For those along the Gulf coast, focus on getting the humidity out of your home and you’ll feel far more comfortable than you ever would by lowering the thermostat. Seal up gaps, improve window and door seals, etc. When replacing or installing a central AC, try to find a contractor who understands that “latent load” (humidity) is more important than “sensible load” (heat). Most of them don’t, even the ones here in Florida don’t. I changed out my AC system about 7 years ago at my primary home and had it specially designed to remove more humidity than anything else on the market. 75F / 43% RH all year round inside. $40/mo for electricity, 2100 sq ft.

  14. lessvegan says:

    I lived in Vegas in 120F heat last year and all without a/c. How? Take one small fan and one spray bottle from Home Depot ($3) Spritz yourself all over and let the fan dry you off. Cools you down marvellously, more effective than a/c. You can even leave the windows open and let the hot air in, because the hooter the surrounding air the better the water evaporates and the cooler you get!

    Another tip: for the bad nights, buy ice packs from Rite Aid or any drug store, freeze them and take one out, wrapped in a cloth so as not to freeze your skin, and hug it close to feel wonderfully cool all night.

  15. PhilK says:

    There’s no way to save money in South Florida in the summer. The humidity is 100% from about May through August with temperatures in the 80-90s (even at night), making evaporative cooling (swamp coolers/sweating) worthless. The salt air (I’m ~7 miles from the ocean) destroys computers so opening the house really isn’t even an option and we don’t really get enough sun or wind for alternative energy to be a good idea.

    Best bet is to seal up the house and just try to move from airlock to airlock.

  16. Interior fans keep PEOPLE feeling cooler, but they don’t do anything towards making the house cooler. If you’re away for any length of time, turn the fans off.

    Might apply just to houses. But in an apartment building, fans help alter the flow of heat rising from lower floors and are a godsend for trading stale air for fresh air after the sun goes down.

  17. FLConsumer says:

    @PhilK: Oh, you can save money, but its costs money. A top-notch AC, windows, and insulation will easily drop your bill and make you more comfortable. I used to have $200+ electric bills before changing out the AC and adding a light tint to the windows.

    You’re right though — evaporative coolers only make things worse in FL’s already high humidity.