May has arrived in Texas, so it’s time for music, weddings, Cinco de Mayo, and the first waves of summertime heat and humidity. In a state where the daily summer temperature hovers between “well-done” and “nuclear,” you know how hard it is to cool your home while not overheating your electricity bills. Don’t sweat it – our Summer Prep Series will show you how to get your home ready for summer, save energy, and keep your cool.
We’ve kept you busy the past few weeks with the first three installments of our Summer Prep Series. You’ve learned the importance of:
- Shopping for electricity in Texas;
- Signing up for a fixed-rate plan; and
- Getting an HVAC tune-up.
All of those things are great – crucial even – but to truly make your home ready for Summer, you need to engage in a home Energy efficiency project or two. Lucky for you, we have a wealth of resources at your disposal, so you can decide what’s best for your home (and which project lies within your skill set). Some are large, some are small, and others are day-to-day tasks that go a long way towards incrementally improving how your home uses energy.
Simply put, making your home Energy Efficient isn’t a one-time affair. It’s an ongoing mission that requires seasonal attention to ensure that your home doesn’t waste energy. And since you live in Texas, we want to focus on projects that will help you absorb the long summer heat without busting your budget with high electricity bills.
1) Install More Insulation
This is a no-brainer. If you don’t have at least R13 (and we really do recommend R30), you should head down to your preferred home improvement store, buy a few rolls of insulation, and prepare to spend a sweaty Saturday morning in your attic before it gets TOO much hotter in Texas. And if you’re not feeling up to the task, contact your local HVAC professional for a quote on insulation installation.
2) Adjust Your Air Sealing
As in, you need to check the places in your home that open to the outside world. The cooled air in your home naturally wants to get outside, and that warm, humid air wants to get INSIDE your home. If you want an energy efficient home, you have to make sure this doesn’t happen as much as possible. This means checking your doors and windows for leaks and drafts around the trim, and if you feel they are loose, taking steps to correct the situation. For your doors, this could be as simple as installing fresh weatherstripping, while you might need to break out the caulk gun to keep your windows properly sealed.
3) Doctor Your Duct Work
Here’s the truth – you could have a top-of-the-line energy efficient HVAC unit (complete with that blue ENERGY STAR logo), but if the duct work in your attic blowing that air have cracks, leaks, and busted connections, you’re just wasting money. Once you’ve laid down that fresh insulation, spend another morning checking those ducts for problems and then repairing them with a combination of aluminum (not vinyl!) duct tape, mastic, and duct insulation. Again, if you don’t feel comfortable with this, invest in work from a licensed HVAC company.
4) Flip Your Fan
Basically, if you haven’t made sure your fan has switched directions to where it’s blowing down (because it should have been blowing up to the ceiling in winter), do this now. Just make sure you clean those fan blades before you flip that switch or you’ll scatter dust all across the room.
5) Lose the Lights
This is Texas – the sun is usually in the sky by 7am, and it’s still there at 8pm. This means you should have plenty of light in most rooms that you don’t need to actually use the lights in the ceiling. And if you do need more light because you’re in a room without good exterior lighting, try a lamp with an energy-saving LED light bulb.
6) Consolidate Your Chores
Texas is already seeing highs in the 90’s by May, so your home doesn’t need the extra heat load from you running appliances when the sun is out. The more appliances working during the daytime – ovens, stoves, dishwashers, and the washers and dryers for your clothes – the harder your air conditioner has to work to keep your home cool. Treat your HVAC unit with respect by saving those high energy usage chores until after 8pm.
7) Install a Smart / Programmable Thermostat
This is 2016. You need a better thermostat in your home. No, you don’t have to use one that connects to the Internet of Things so you can talk to it with your smartphone. But it would behoove you to invest in a thermostat you can program to cool your home with maximum efficiency. Most of the top home thermostats are pretty intuitive in terms of programming, so you can ensure your home isn’t being cooled when your family isn’t home.
Looking for additional tips on how to get your electricity bill ready for summer by making your home more energy efficient? Check out the Energy Efficiency section of the Bounce Energy Blog!