Ten ways to save energy throughout summer
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For more information on these or other energy-saving tips, contact the city of Victoria's Environmental Services department at 361-485-3230 or visit victoriatx.org/environmental/index.asp.
For many Crossroads residents, summer in South Texas means more than time off from school, the occasional snow cone and the chance to soak under a few rays.
With air conditioners working to stave off the sweltering heat, this time of year also means higher energy bills.
Still, experts say, the seasonal temperatures don't necessarily have to break the bank.
Here are a few tips from those in the know on how to cut back on energy costs.
Don't forget the fan
Ceiling fans, box fans or stand models can make a room feel about four degrees cooler than with air conditioning alone. Turn fans off when you leave the room, however, because they cool people - not rooms - by creating a wind chill effect.
Remember the thermostat
Set the thermostat as high as is comfortable and keep it a bit warmer when you're away from home. When you return, don't set the thermostat too low. Doing so won't cool the home any faster and might cost more money in the long run. Consider a programmable thermostat, which regulates temperatures throughout the day.
Mind the air conditioner
Keep the area around the machine clean. Shrubs growing over the top, for instance, can block air flow. Also, make sure the hoses on the back are secured tightly and that they don't leak. Have the air conditioner serviced once a year by a licensed technician and if you question whether your technician is licensed, ask to see proof. They are required by law to carry it.
Change out air filters
A clean air filter allows optimum air flow, decreasing not only the amount of time the air conditioner runs but also how much you'll spend on energy costs. This simple measure doesn't cost much.
Consider the other appliances
Don't place lamps, TV sets or similar items near the thermostat, as their heat might cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary. Avoid using the oven if possible. Stoves are a more efficient way to cook, but microwaves or outdoor grills are even better. When it comes to clothes and dishes, wash only full loads.
Check for leaks
Windows and doors are prime places for cool air to escape a home and warm air to sneak its way in. Look for gaps along the frames and seal them with caulk or weatherstripping.
Be wary of the windows
Consider buying a tinted film to keep the heat out. Thick drapery over windows that catch the brunt of the day's sunlight can also dramatically lower a room's temperature.
Opt for efficiency
Replace old light bulbs with energy-efficient varieties, such as compact fluorescent bulbs or those with a lower wattage. When possible, purchase items with the Energy Star logo. Such items cut back on energy costs and are more environmentally friendly.
Turn down the home's hot water heater during the hot summer months.
Check the insulation
A well-insulated home keeps the hot air out and the cool air inside. Have someone inspect the insulation and apply a fresh layer if necessary.
Remember the basics
Tried and true conservation methods can make a big difference. Turn lights off when you leave a room and unplug appliances when they aren't in use. Wash clothes on a cold cycle and close the doors to rooms you aren't using. It helps maintain a healthy air flow throughout the home.
If temperatures inside the home continue to rise, go for a dunk in the city pool or take in a movie. Stay out until things cool down and conditions are more comfortable.
Sources: Kate Garcia, environmental programs coordinator with the city of Victoria's Environmental Services department; Roger Meyer, owner of ACR Heating and Air Conditioning; Energy Star website;United States Department of Energy website