Keeping cool at home
Monday, August 13, 2012 - By Laura Parsons
Summer has finally kicked in here in San Diego. Is this heat wave making your bedroom so hot that you have trouble sleeping? Or maybe it’s your high electric bills keeping you up at night? Either way, it may be time to think about a home energy upgrade.
To reduce the amount of heat that enters your home, the best thing you can do is increase your insulation and seal up major sources of air leakage (a home energy assessment can diagnose your needs). These improvements to your building envelope are the foundation of cost-effective home energy upgrades. If you have south-facing windows that receive direct sunlight, window shades or strategically placed trees can reduce your home’s heat absorption even further.
Turning to your mechanical systems, if your air conditioner is fairly old (for example, a unit with a SEER rating of 10 or lower), you may want to upgrade to a more efficient model (ENERGY STAR-labeled models have a SEER rating of 14 or higher – up to two times as efficient). Regardless of your air conditioner’s rated efficiency, you’ll want to keep the filters clean to keep it running efficiently and to keep your air clean. Fans can also help your family feel cooler while using less electricity than an air conditioner; however fans don’t actually lower air temperatures, so they’re only worth using if people are in the room.
What kind of a difference can a home energy upgrade make? According to Jim and Amber from Tierrasanta, a big one. They did a fairly simple upgrade: attic and duct insulation as well as air sealing. Amber says that before the upgrade, the air conditioner would run all day long in summer and “it was hard to get it stay under 80 degrees”. Now, “the house stays in the low 70’s,” says Amber. “The air kicks on three or four times from 2:30 until 4:00 p.m. and then we’re done.” Even without upgrading their air conditioner, Jim and Amber enjoy more comfortable temperatures year-round, have noticed an improvement in their air quality, and are saving money on their energy bills. Watch Jim and Amber’s testimonial below: