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6 Ways to Beat the Summer Heat While Reducing Your Home’s Footprint

Temperatures are on the rise and summer is just around the corner, but you won’t have to keep your home’s air conditioning unit cranked up throughout the coming months just to stay cool.

With a few tips from the county’s emPower program, you’ll be able to beat the heat, all while conserving energy and creating a more comfortable and healthier home. 

1. Seal Leaks

Plugging up the cracks in your home is an important step in improving energy efficiency. Small crevices and gaps often found in or around windows, doors and walls can add up to a hula-hoop size hole in a home, allowing warm air and allergens to slip inside.

You can grab a caulking gun to seal some yourself, but to get them all — including the ones you can’t see — emPower can help connect you with a qualified local contractor.   

2. Replace or Seal Air Ducts

It’s OK to switch on your air conditioner now and then when it’s really cooking outside, but you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most out of the energy you use.

Making sure your ducts are properly sealed, insulated and installed can improve the efficiency of a central air conditioning unit by 20 percent.

You can start by sealing and connecting seems with mastic duct sealant or metal-backed tape. A qualified contractor can help you take the project further. 

3. Upgrade Your AC Unit

It may also be time to upgrade to a new ENERGY STAR certified central air conditioner. Replacing that old AC unit you’ve been using since the ’80s could cut your cooling bill in half.

4. Switch on a Ceiling Fan

Using an ENERGY STAR ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4 degrees without a reduction in comfort.

However, fans cool people, not rooms. Make sure to turn the fan off when you leave the room.

5. Open Windows at Night

For those cool nights, you can save some energy by shutting off the air conditioner and leaving a window open while you sleep.

When you wake up in the morning, shut the windows and blinds to keep the cool air inside.

6. Light Homes With LEDs

Replacing old incandescent lightbulbs with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will not only save energy but will also help keep the home cooler.

Only about 10-15 percent of the electricity that incandescent lights consume results in light — the rest is turned into heat. LEDs also use 70-90 percent less energy and can last 25 times longer, so you won’t have to replace them as often.

Small changes can go a long way toward making your home healthier and more comfortable this summer, and there’s plenty emPower can do to help if you’re interested in tackling a bigger project.

You can sign up for a free home energy site visit from an emPower energy coach for help identifying issues like leaky ducts, drafty windows and poorly installed insulation.

emPower can also connect you with local contractors who are well qualified to take care of these troubles and can make a project like installing a new air conditioner a breeze, figuratively and literally.

emPower can also lend you a hand in obtaining utility incentives and low-interest unsecured financing. For more information, visit www.empowersbc.org.

Amy Bernstein is a publicist representing emPower.

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