Having written about energy efficiency recently, I thought I would give you some home energy saving tips for the summer. You may already know these. You may even implement them. If you don't, this may help you to save energy costs and be more comfortable during the summer.
1. Older refrigerators and freezer can be energy guzzlers. If possible, either get rid of them or only use them when you need extra space, like for a party. It's better to keep them full then partially filled. At the very least, take a vacuum to the coils to clean them.
Refrigerators consume high amounts of energy. Cleaning them on a regular basis can keep them running at their most energy efficient levels.
2. Wash only full loads of clothes and dishes. Air-dry your clothes and dishes when possible. I don't have a clothes line, but I do have several outdoor chairs I drape towels over to air-dry them. Even this little step saves me a lot of energy by not using my clothes dryer.
We don't use many dishes. I'll wash the few we use at night - letting them air-dry. The next morning I put away dry dishes, saving both the dishwasher-associated resource consumption and costs.
3. Replace any incandescent bulbs you can with compact fluorescents. Open window coverings - shades, blinds, shutters, draperies - when you need light if it doesn't allow direct sunlight into the space, which would increase the heat level in the home as well as the light level.
4. Microwaves, toaster ovens and convection ovens might be good alternatives to the standard electric range or oven during hot months. This especially would be true if you are using smaller food amounts during the summer as they will more easily fit into them.
5. Turn off your office equipment (computer, monitor and copiers) when not in use. If you have one or more home offices or homework areas (I know school is technically not in session, yet there are some students going to summer school), this can save you energy costs as well as the need to cool down these areas since electronic equipment generates heat.
6. Weather-strip doors and windows that allow hot air to penetrate or cold air from your air conditioner to escape. Open windows at night to cool your house naturally - as long as you live in an area where it is safe to do so.
7. Install ceiling fans to circulate the air. If you have operable skylights, open them to utilize passive solar techniques. Opening the lower part of a window - like a double hung window - along with the skylights circulates air, allowing hot air near the ceiling to escape as the cooler air moves in, thus cooling the house naturally.
8. Check to make sure your fans, coolers and air conditioning units are properly maintained. Owner's manuals will give you the recommended maintenance procedures. Clean or replace any filters. Set thermostats as high as possible, yet still be comfortable for the occupants.
9. Make sure electrical appliances and lighting are working correctly and turned off when not in use. When selecting new appliances, ceiling fans or lighting, look for Energy Star qualified items.
Changing behavior is one of the hardest yet simplest things to do. We humans don't like to change. We find it difficult to alter our habits. Several of these suggestions are just that - changing a habit - like adjusting the thermostat higher or turning our computers off.
Not only is the habit of turning the computer off energy efficient, it keeps me from going into my office "one last time for the night" to check emails or whatever else happens to catch my eye. This simple change has allowed me more time - for myself, my husband and some much needed sleep.
Most of these suggestions are easy to implement. It doesn't even have to be "eco housing" - a regular tract-built home or condo can obtain great results.
It just takes awareness and desire to "step up to the plate" to make your "home run" efficiently. Okay, a little corny, but since it's summer, "let's play ball" and have a fun time doing it.