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Several years ago, we moved into our huge new house, which features 5,000 square feet of space that gives us room to grow. However, I quickly realized a house that large is difficult to keep clean and presents some surprises on the energy bill. Some research led me to ideas on how to save money on our energy bill by making simple changes to our routine and maintenance plan.
Change Your Air Filters Regularly
Our HVAC systems use filters to keep the air we breathe free of allergens, dust, and airborne particles. Changing air filters on a regular basis is key for these filters to continue doing their job and supporting the overall air quality of our homes.
A common rule of thumb is to change these air filters quarterly, but in the summer months, I recommend changing them out each month. Particles can clog the air filters and obstruct airflow, causing our cooling system to be less efficient. This reduction in efficiency can make the system work harder and increase our utility bill.
Adjust Your Thermostat Appropriately
Image via Flickr by AC Home X
If you’re at work during the hottest hours of the day, there’s no need to keep your house as cold as a meat locker. Setting the thermostat to slightly higher than normal will keep the house cool without costing as much. Then, when you return home, switching it back to a few degrees cooler won’t cause the cooling system to overwork as it lowers the overall temperature inside your home.
Likewise, turning off the system completely when you aren’t home is a bad idea. The harder the cooling system has to work to bring the indoor temperature down to the desired level, the higher your bill may be. A programmable thermostat might be a good option if you tend to forget to update the temperature before you leave home or wish to set it back to the regular level before you return home.
Check Your Weather-Stripping
We certainly don’t want to spend all our money cooling the outdoors, so making sure our windows and doors aren’t drafty is an important part of a household maintenance plan. You can check and repair weather-stripping issues as a do-it-yourself project, or you can hire a handyman service for such routine checks and maintenance.
Installing solar shades on your windows is a great way to keep the strong sun from heating up the inside of your home, especially here in Texas. Good curtains can help with the heat issue as well. These barriers can improve the temperature inside the home without running the cooling unit harder.
Another way to add shade is with trees, an interesting idea I recently came across in an article on the top three ways to save energy in your home. Shade trees are a green way to improve your HVAC unit’s efficiency by keeping the sun’s rays from heating up your home. A bonus is the trees improve your home’s aesthetic appeal, too.
Use Your Ceiling Fans
Image via Flickr by Steve A Johnson
A ceiling fan keeps the air moving and makes the temperature in the room feel cooler without having to lower the thermostat. A ceiling fan can allow you to raise the thermostat by 4 degrees without a noticeable change in the temperature of the room. Again, a higher base temperature keeps the HVAC unit from running longer and harder to cool the house, which also keeps your energy bill under control.
These five tips are small changes we can make in our homes. They’ll keep our energy bill from being higher than necessary, which helps our overall budget. Do you have any other simple tips to share?