Become a Fan of Summer Efficiency
Rising temperatures outside can mean increased use of your air conditioner and higher utility bills. With the aid of ceiling fans and ventilation in your home, you can maintain comfort while decreasing the amount of money you will have to spend on utility bills.
“Fans are often associated with warm weather, but ceiling fans and ventilation can assist in temperature control year-round,” explains Erin Hollinshead, executive director of the Energy Education Council.
Ceiling fans boost efficiency in both hot and cool seasons. Fans create a cooling breeze when moving in a counter-clockwise direction, resulting in a low-level “wind chill” throughout the room. When fans move in a clockwise direction, they force the warmer air that naturally gathers near the ceiling back down into the room.
Installing a ceiling fan will allow consumers to raise their thermostat temperature by a few degrees and still maintain comfort. Although ceiling fans are effective in lowering energy usage, Hollinshead suggests that you turn them off when you leave the room. Unless you are sitting directly under the fan to feel the “wind chill,” energy is wasted.
If shopping for a new fan, remember to look for an Energy Star model. These labels indicate that the fans operate with peak efficiency, using the most energy-efficient technology.
Paired with ceiling fans, natural ventilation can also increase energy efficiency by giving the air conditioner a rest. Although ventilation is not an effective cooling strategy for all climates, natural ventilation can work in climates with cool nights and regular breezes to help keep your home comfortable. For natural ventilation, close doors, windows, and window coverings during the day, and open them at night.
Ventilation in the attic can also help reduce your air conditioner use. Attic fans can push hot air that accumulates in the attic out of your home. Never block attic vents In order to maintain airflow. For further help with your home’s energy efficiency, consider upgrading insulation in the attic.
In addition, seal air leaks with caulk or weather stripping to keep more of the hot air out and the cool air inside your house. Reducing air leaks also helps cut back on any moisture problems your home may have.
“Even small steps in efficiency can help you reduce energy use and save money,” adds Hollinshead. “Keep window shades and curtains shut on sunny days, cut back on your use of the oven and range, and keep as many lights off as comfortable to help lower the level of heat in your house. Also, avoid unnecessary trips in and out of the house, especially on the hottest days. Heat and humidity come in each time you open the door.”
For more information on energy efficiency, visit EnergyEdCouncil.org.