Be GREEN to Beat the Heat: Time to Ramp Up Energy Conservation Efforts by Joel Shuler

June 2013 - images_Page_18_Image_0001

As you well know, summer’s heat spans three seasons deep in the heart of Texas. What that means – among other things – is that the rising thermometer acts like a magnet pulling money out of our pockets as energy costs rise during the stifling Texas-sized summer months. Keep those hard-earned dollars in your pocket by adhering to these 10 energy-saving tips:

Service is key – If you haven’t already done so, have your AC system serviced by a licensed professional air conditioning technician. This service will usually save your more than it costs. It’s best to have your AC/heating system cleaned and inspected twice each year. In San Antonio, the presummer inspection is a MUST to make sure your system runs at maximum efficiency.

Don’t over-cool – Set your thermostat at the warmest comfortable temperature. At 75 degrees, each degree warmer can save 5-8 percent on your cooling bill.

Consider an upgrade – If your AC system is more than 10 years old, time to consider a newer, more efficient model. CPS Energy offers air conditioner rebates; see www.cpsenergysavers.com for info.

Be smart while you’re away – If you use a programmable thermostat, don’t set the temperature up more than 2 degrees during the day while you’re away from home. When you return home at 5 p.m., you’ll be cooling your home during the peak heat of the day. You will consume more energy cooling your house 4 degrees in the evening than you’d spend maintaining the same temperature all day long.

Cool down when it’s cool – The easiest time of day to cool your home down is between 6 and 7 a.m. Your attic is cool and the outside temperature is close to the lowest it will be during the day. Keep your AC filter clean – Check and change your air filter regularly. When your filter is dirty, it restricts airflow, which causes your system to use more energy to keep your home cool. CPS Energy recommends checking your air filter monthly.

Keep your AC filter clean – Check and change your air filter regularly. When your filter is dirty, it restricts airflow, which causes your system to use more energy to keep your home cool. CPS Energy recommends checking your air filter monthly.

Keep the vents open – Do not close off AC vents to rooms. This can cause your AC unit to have too much restriction on the blower, which requires your unit to use more electricity. Also, don’t shut doors to rooms. Closing doors in your home restricts the path air needs to travel back to the unit.

Don’t keep your fridge/freezer in the heat – If you keep a refrigerator or freezer running in your garage or other non-air conditioned space, you may be adding $50-$100 a month to your energy bill. That’s because those appliances are designed to run in air conditioned spaces; in a non-air conditioned space, the compressor must work harder to keep the inside cool.

 Consider window upgrades – Replace old windows with more energy efficient windows, and reduce your energy costs as much as 15 percent.

Audit your energy use – If you’re a CPS Energy customer, get a home energy audit. It’s a great way to learn more about how to reduce your energy costs. The Do-It-Yourself Checkup is free and available online at www.cpsenergysavers.com.

Joel Shuler is publisher of Natural Awakenings San Antonio.

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