Large areas of the country are getting pummeled by recent heat waves. In Pennsylvania, local residents have been sweating through daily high temperatures in the 90s to low 100s
which is compounded with 50 to 70% humidity. Across the country, this summer is on track to be one of the hottest on record.
On the peak heat days during the year, electrical demand is also high. In both offices and homes, people rely heavily on fans, air conditioning, and dehumidifiers to keep cool. This surge in utility consumption rises directly with the temperature outside. But if the electrical grid becomes overwhelmed, it can spell disaster during a heatwave. Power outages are uncomfortable and can even be dangerous in the heat. That’s why it’s important for all of us to try to cut back on energy usage – at home and at the office — during the hottest summer days.
How to Cool Your House and Keep Expenses Low
When the heat and humidity of summer arrives, staying cool is a priority for home and business owners in Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester counties. However, it only takes a string of extremely warm days to potentially break the budget. While that can be a challenge, the good news is that you can take several actions to lower your utility bills and still remain comfortable at home or work.
Don’t sweat the heat or the extra electrical costs this summer. Follow this advice from the HVAC experts.
Change Your Air Filter Quarterly
One of the simplest things you can do to reduce energy costs is changing the air filter of your HVAC system at least once every three months. At AQM, we recommend that you set reminders on your smartphone calendar to change the filter before the start of each new season. A clogged and dirty air filter is far less efficient at trapping warm air and pushing cool air out. Many hardware and home improvement stores sell air filters in packages of four to help you remember to change them seasonally.
Switch to a Programmable Thermostat
You look forward to coming home to a pleasantly cool house at the end of a long day at work. The only problem is that keeping the air conditioning on all day can really drive up energy costs. Replacing your current thermostat with a programmable thermostat makes an ideal solution to this dilemma.
With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature to slowly get cooler throughout the day until it reaches a maximum point of comfort when you return home. These units also come with several optional features such as weekday and weekend settings and vacation settings. According to our research, you can also save up to 10% off your monthly utility bill when you switch to a programmable thermostat.
Keep Curtains and Blinds Closed During the Day
Keeping your curtains and blinds open all day long allows excess heat to enter your home. Your air conditioner then needs to work extra hard to provide the cooling capacity you desire. Pulling the curtains and blinds closed blocks the heat from entering your home and puts less strain on your air conditioning system. Even so, some window coverings are more efficient than others. If the curtains or blinds you currently have let in too much heat, consider researching and installing more energy-efficient ones.
Insulate Your Attic
The roofing materials of your home absorb a lot of heat during hot summer days. When your attic has poor insulation, the sun’s rays come through the roof and into your home. This can make your home or office uncomfortable in a hurry as well as cause your air conditioner to work overtime to keep you cool. Homes built more than 20 years ago are more likely to have issues with inadequate attic insulation than newer homes. It’s worth reaching out to an attic insulation specialist to find out whether your home could benefit from new or additional insulation.
Consider Upgrading to a More Efficient Air Conditioning System
The federal Energy Star program recommends upgrading air conditioning systems more than 10 years old that also have a low energy efficiency rating. Older systems which use Freon will need to be replaced or retrofitted anyway.
It’s true the purchasing a new, energy efficient air conditioning system will cost you more upfront. But rest assured that you will soon see a return on investment in the form of lower utility bills and less frequent repairs. Air conditioning manufacturers label each unit with a SEER number, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. SEER numbers start at 13 or 14 depending on your geographic location and can go as high as 25. The higher the SEER, the greater the efficiency you can expect.
Seal Air Leaks
Openings under doors and cracks in windows are just two ways that cool air can escape and warm air can enter your home in the summer. These problems are easy enough to fix with caulking and weather stripping. It’s also a good idea to check your ductwork to ensure that it doesn’t contain air leaks that could prevent the normal distribution of cool air.
Schedule Regular Preventive Maintenance
Annual maintenance for your cooling and heating equipment can make all the difference in its efficiency and longevity. We are happy to let you know that AQM offers preventive maintenance plans starting at just $197 per year. You can also upgrade to a platinum or ultimate plan for greater benefits and savings. Our plan members always receive priority service and additional savings over non-plan members. Feel free to contact us with additional questions about each of our plans or to request a quote for a tune-up, repairs, or installation.
SAVE ENERGY AT YOUR OFFICE DURING THE SUMMER
Commercial buildings account for a large portion of energy consumption for cooling. Because they also tend to be occupied during the hotter hours of the day, electrical demand is especially high for offices and commercial spaces like shopping centers, stores, childcare centers, and gyms. There are some small changes that you and your coworkers can make to reduce utility usage during the summer, without making any big investments in new HVAQ equipment.
Lower the Temperature
Adjust the thermostat in the office to keep. Keeping the space just a few degrees warmer during the workday or allowing the temperature to rise when the business is closed can save a lot of money.
Turn Off Some Lights
Make sure the lights are off in areas of the building when they aren’t being used. This may include bathrooms, storage rooms, conference areas, and stairwells. Low-cost sensors can be used to automatically shut off the lights when nobody is using the space. Timers and solar sensors can turn signage off its not needed or too bright outside.
Power Down Electronics
Request that employees turn off their computers and any other electronics before leaving for the day and whenever they aren’t being used. Copy machines and other equipment can also be set to ‘sleep mode’ and conserve energy when not in use. Smart power strips make this easy; they power down automatically when the devices plugged in are unused.
Limit Direct Sunlight
Blinds, shades, and awnings are helpful in commercial settings by limiting the amount of heat that comes into the building through the windows and doors.
Maintain the HVAC System
Keeping the air conditioning system in good working order is one of the best ways to ensure low-energy performance.