It’s mid-May and Kingston has already seen temperatures above 30 degrees.
If your family is like so many others across the city, cutting back on energy use (and those horrendous monthly bills that came from running the air conditioner constantly) is a priority.
We spend a lot of time thinking about home comfort (it’s kinda, you know, what we do), and we have some easy tips to help you save without compromising your comfort.
It isn’t all done inside, but some of it is.
- Don’t manufacture heat inside the house. If you can cook outside on the BBQ, do it! You only have so many months to soak up the sun anyway, and it stops you from using the stove inside. Only run the dish washer when everybody goes to bed, and hold off on serious dance parties in the living room until the sun is down.
- Use your ceiling fans. In the summer, ceiling fans should run counter clockwise. This forces air downward, giving you the cooling breeze effect. The temperature doesn’t actually change, but the breeze helps your body move heat out, so it cools your temperature down.
- Plant shade trees around the house. Don’t plant trees on the south if you want to benefit from passive solar heating in the winter. Some of the best shade trees include hybrid poplars, red maples, willow trees, and eastern white pines.
- If your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, a smart purchase in the next few years will be a new air conditioner. You could also look into a geothermal system if you’re particularly environmentally (and budget) conscious.
- Already decided to buy a new air conditioner? Don’t buy the biggest, most powerful air conditioner you can afford. Bigger isn’t always better. We will make recommendations based on the square footage of your house and local climate variables. The unit we recommend might be much smaller and affordable than you expect.
- In Ontario, new air conditioners should adequately manage high humidity. Models with variable or multi-speed blowers are generally best, broadly, for climate conditions across the province.
- Make sure your ducts are sealed well, and insulate ducts running through unheated basements, crawl spaces, etc….
- Don’t skip out on professional maintenance. Moving parts of your air conditioner wear down, fluid levels drop and (unfortunately, but realistically) problems develop through the year. Maintenance in regular intervals keeps your air conditioner running cleanly and efficiently.
What about letting the sun shine in?
The sun beams in through your windows all day. The ambiance is great, but the heat isn’t. So what can you do about that oppressive sun?
- Install light coloured (white is best) window shades or mini-blinds. Mini-blinds can reduce solar heat gain by 40-50%. That means your air conditioner has to work half as hard to keep the house cool, and you save big $$$.
- Close south and west-facing curtains completely during the day. This is especially good if nobody is home.
- Place bamboo shades outside some windows during the summer. This will stop most of the sun’s heat from getting to the windows in the first place, another huge reprieve for the air conditioner trying to fight off that radiant heat.
Two easy tips for your new air conditioner.
- Have your new air conditioner installed in the shade. Direct sun can reduce air conditioner efficiency by about 10%, so keeping it cool can save you thousands of dollars over the lifespan of the unit.
- Clean the AC air filter monthly. Dust and debris can cut back cooling power by 1-2% every month, and cleaning the filter only takes about 5 minutes. You can clean an air conditioner filter 2-3 times before replacing it.
And that’s it, 13 ways to help keep your house cooler and more comfortable this summer.