Keeping utility bills low as the temperatures rise

The warmer summer months have arrived, and the temperatures are starting to get hot, hot, hot! Rising temperatures generally lead to rising utility costs, so we’ve put together some quick, simple tips to keep in mind as we head into summer.

Keeping your HVAC system in good shape is the first and foremost step in this process which is why we’ve been scheduling HVAC inspections over the past month or so. It’s important to make sure there are no clogged filters or damage to the interior of the unit to keep the system running smoothly and your home cool and comfortable! Don’t forget to check the air filters and vents around your home and change them as necessary. Closed vents or clogged air filters can introduce strain to your AC ducts as well as trap and recirculate allergens into your home, so plan to check and replace them every month or two, sooner if you have a cat or dog that sheds a lot.

Research shows that making sure your ceiling fans are spinning in the right direction can help reduce air conditioning costs!  Setting fans to spin counterclockwise pulls cool air up toward the ceiling and forces it down into the area you’re occupying, causing a windchill effect and helping to keep you cooler without cranking up the A/C. The switch to control fan rotation is typically found on the base plate that covers the motor for the fan, or there may be a button located on the remote if your system includes one. Simply move the switch to the right or down toward the floor, turn it on and make sure the blades are spinning in the right direction. You should be able to feel the air while standing directly under the fan and you’re all set!

Try closing your blinds or curtains from late morning until the early evening, this is especially important for west or south facing windows. By blocking some of the sun’s warming rays, this simple act can keep a room 10 to 15 degrees cooler. Use white shades, blinds or drapes to reflect heat away from entering your home. Blackout shades are another inexpensive option to reduce cooling costs but will deprive the room of almost all sunlight.  If covering your windows during the day makes your home feel too dark, consider lowering just the top 6 inches or so of the blinds.  This will allow in the natural light but not so much of the natural heat!

If your home has an irrigation system, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure you’re not washing your money away with it. The general estimate is that 1-1.5 inches of water is all that is needed for a week to maintain the average lawn. Since not all irrigation systems are made the same, it’s difficult to translate that estimate into a broadly applicable amount of time. To figure out what your home needs, place an empty can (or other straight-sided container) in the grass where it can collect water and measure how long it takes accumulate an inch of water in the can. This will give you a rough estimate of how long you’ll need to water every week, so you can adjust your system settings to the minimum needed to keep your lawn healthy. As we head into the rainy season, take advantage of the days you can simply turn the system off or lower the time you’ll need to water around rainy spells by keeping the same can you used to estimate your needs in the yard somewhere it will continue to collect water and checking it periodically to see when it’s reached the necessary 1-inch mark.