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Posted: August 14, 2015

Sweltering in the August Heat? These Tips Will Help You Keep Your Cool

August in Florida feels like taking a hot bath in the tropics. Its muggy, oppressive heat saps your energy, and you can work up a healthy sweat simply stepping outside to check the mail. Perhaps the worst part about the heat is the exorbitant electric bills that result from running your air conditioner at full blast 24/7. According to the University of Florida, more than 40 percent of your energy bill goes toward cooling and heating your home. Mostly cooling. And for every degree you set your air conditioner below 78 degrees, you’ll pay around 8 percent more in cooling costs.

But never fear, because Brevard Cooling is here, and we have some surefire tips that will help you considerably lower your energy bill while actually increasing your comfort level. Best of all? Many of these strategies won’t cost you a dime, and the ones that aren’t completely free require only a small investment. So what are you waiting for? Release your inner DIYer and get to work saving money and enjoying the cool fruits of your labor.

1. Maintain your air conditioner. This is the cardinal rule of maintaining low energy bills during cooling season. A poorly maintained air conditioner will cost about 25 percent more to operate than one that’s properly maintained. Maintenance starts with a preventive tune-up at the start of the cooling season, although if you skipped it this year, it’s not too late to reap the benefits of a tune-up, which include a longer system life, lower energy bills, a higher level of comfort, and fewer breakdowns. Between tune-ups, change that clogged air filter regularly – check it once a month and replace it when it’s dirty. Keep the metal fins of your outdoor unit free of debris, and remove any plants that are growing within 18 inches of the unit.

2. Seal and insulate your ducts. The typical home’s leaky ducts allow around 30 percent of the air inside to escape before reaching your rooms. Seal leaky ducts with mastic duct sealant or metal tape (never use duct tape, which deteriorates quickly!) and insulate them to keep the air inside cool as a cucumber as it moves through. Insulation will also prevent condensation from causing water damage or mold growth around the ducts in unconditioned spaces.

3. Don’t use heat generating appliances during the hottest part of the day. If you don’t get to them early in the morning, the dishes and laundry can wait until the cooler evening. Using the dishwasher, clothes dryer, and oven will heat up your home and make your A/C work even harder to keep things cool.

4. Use those fans! If you don’t have ceiling fans, invest in a couple of inexpensive oscillating fans, and use them to help you stay cooler. But remember that fans don’t cool rooms, they cool people, so be sure to turn them off when you’re out of the room.

5. Combat solar heat gain. The radiant energy from the sun striking your home heats up your rooms exponentially in the summer.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, window awnings alone can reduce solar heat gain by 65 percent on south windows and 77 percent on west windows.

Alternatively, you can keep your window shades closed during the day and open them up at night. Other ways to combat solar heat gain include adequately insulating your attic, planting bushes, trees, and shrubs close to your house, and choose a light color for your home’s exterior.

6. Seal air leaks. Air leaking into your home through tiny gaps and cracks will considerably increase your energy bills. To detect air leaks, wait for a windy day, and close all of your exterior doors and windows. Light a stick of incense, and pass the stick slowly near areas where leaks are common, including around doors and windows, service entrances, pipes and vents, baseboards, recessed lighting, outlets, and light switches. When the incense smoke wavers, air is infiltrating. Seal leaks with caulk and weather-stripping.

7. Install a programmable thermostat. For every degree you set your thermostat back for eight hours at a shot, you’ll save more than one percent on your cooling costs. Those percentage points add up when you’re talking 15 degrees! Programmable thermostats take the guesswork out of your settings, and you won’t have to kick yourself for forgetting to turn up the thermostat at night or when you leave for work. And best of all, you can program your thermostat to start cooling your rooms just before you get off work so that you walk into a pleasingly cool house after your hot commute.

For more brilliant tips on keeping your home cooler while saving money on your energy bills, or to schedule an A/C tune-up to keep your system in tip-top shape, please feel free to contact us at Brevard Cooling & Heating, serving all of Brevard County and beyond.

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