Cool for comfort and efficiency.
Set your thermostat to the highest comfortable temperature for your home. Start by setting it at an efficient 78 degrees when you’re at home, and set the temperature higher when you are away or sleeping. A smart thermostat can help you manage your thermostat from anywhere using your smart phone.
Use your ceiling fan.
In the summer, set your ceiling fan to spin in the counterclockwise direction. If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. But remember: ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. Don’t forget to turn your fan off when the room is unoccupied.
Keep your cooling system in shape.
Air conditioners require regular maintenance to function effectively and efficiently. Routinely replace or clean the filters - at least once every three months is recommended. If you use window air conditioners, inspect the seal between the air conditioner and the window frame at the start of each cooling season to ensure it makes contact with the unit’s metal case.
Delay heat-producing tasks.
On hot days, minimize activities that generate a lot of heat, such as running a computer or dishwasher, doing laundry, and using hot devices such as hair dryers. Also keep this in mind while cooking - avoid using the oven, and instead cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside.
Keep your cool.
A typical house has many places where air can move between living spaces and the attic, and between the basement and outdoors. The result is high cooling costs and humid, hot rooms. The solution is to seal gaps and then put in sufficient, well-installed insulation.
Choose the right air conditioner.
When buying room air conditioners, choose the smallest ENERGY STAR® qualified unit appropriate for the size of the room you’re cooling. A model that’s too big not only costs more to operate but also can make a room uncomfortably clammy because oversized equipment can’t remove humidity as effectively.
Know when to turn it off.
Take advantage of those rare times when it’s cooler outside and open your windows instead of using air conditioning. Use a window fan, blowing toward the outside, to pull cool air in through other windows and to push hot air out.
Use your bath fan.
Do you have mildew on bathroom ceilings? This is a sign of insufficient ventilation. If you have a bath fan, use it. If you need a fan, look for an ENERGY STAR® qualified model. These fans are very quiet and use little electricity. Be sure to vent bath fans to the outdoors, or you’ll risk moving your mildew problem to another part of the house or attic.
Dry clothes faster.
Clear lint from your clothes-dryer exhaust hose. Have a flexible hose? Replace it with smooth metal ducting to improve air flow, dry clothes faster, and reduce drying energy use.
Don’t make your fridge work so hard.
Clean dust from under your refrigerator, the front vent at the base, and any exposed coils at the back. Another tip: Make sure products aren’t blocking the fan vents inside the fridge and freezer.
Clear the air.
Dust bathroom vent fan covers as well as the ceiling fan blades (change the direction to counter clockwise while you are dusting) in other rooms in your home. Clean dust and grease from the kitchen stove hood and exhaust fan.
Plug your home electronics into an advanced power strip.
While you’re dusting your TV, computer, gaming equipment, and other home electronics, take a look at how they’re plugged in. You can stop overpaying to power these big energy users (many draw electricity even when off) by plugging them into an advanced power strip, which automatically cuts electricity to any idle equipment you choose.
Keep bulbs and fixtures clean.
Dirt will absorb the light and reduce the efficiency. Another tip: Replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs and use up to 90% less energy.
Take a look at any accessible exterior vents, such as for the clothes dryer, central-heating system, water heater, kitchen-fan exhaust, or bath-fan exhaust. Clear them of any blockage or buildup of dust, webs, leaves, and lint.
Feeling a draft?
If you have functional windows, it makes more financial sense to improve them than to replace them with energy-efficient windows. Caulk any gaps and cracks around window frames. Be sure that windows are fully shut. Put up interior window plastic, available in kits at hardware stores. If you don't have storm windows, have them made. Also, for drafty doors, use weather-stripping and door sweeps.