Rising summer temperatures often result in higher energy costs. The US Energy Information Administration estimates that the average home in the United States consumes 1,026 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each month between June and August. Air conditioners, pool pumps and ceiling fans all contribute to high energy costs, as do energy-inefficient windows, air leaks and heat produced by incandescent lamps.
Understanding how to save energy in the summer could lower your home’s utility bill while allowing you to enjoy the weather both inside and outside your home. Fortunately, summer energy conservation is easy. All you need are some simple changes inside of your home and to your daily habits. Below is a room-by-room guide to help you stay cool and save energy.
Saving energy in the summer is often as simple as examining your energy use in different rooms of your home and making small lifestyle changes. Such changes are easy to implement and cost little to no money to put into practice.
Your kitchen is, understandably, one of the biggest heat producers in your home: you can’t use your oven or dishwasher without transforming energy into heat. The following energy-saving tips for kitchens will help keep your home cooler and more comfortable in summer by reducing energy used when cooking and washing.
Your bathroom is another source of heat and humidity, especially if you’re a fan of long hot showers. Here are three summer energy conservation tips to help prevent bathroom heat from increasing your home’s temperature.
Washers and dryers both consume significant amounts of energy, and they give off some of that energy as heat. Here’s how to save energy in the summer in your laundry room.
Air leaks and cracks around window frames allow cool air to escape from the home, as well as hot outdoor air to come inside. Repairing leaks, coupled with energy-efficient window treatments, can help maintain a constant, cool interior temperature when the summer heats up. Here are a few window-based energy-saving tips for summer.
According to Energy.gov, approximately 76 percent of sunlight that reaches standard double-pane windows enters the home as heat. White window shades, drapes and blinds reflect sunlight back outside, keeping the house cool. Energy.gov estimates a medium-colored drape with a white plastic backing can reduce a room’s heat gains by 33 percent.
Of course, drapes and other window treatments only reduce heat gain if they’re used, and 75 percent of households don’t adjust window treatment positions during the day. Set yourself a couple of reminders, and close the drapes against the heat of the day.
To offer the most protection against heat gain, window treatments should be installed as close to the glass as possible. Choose shades that are white on the outside with a darker, heat-absorbing color on the inside for the most heat protection.
Shades are not your only option for heat-reflecting window treatments. Quilted roller shades and Roman shades also reduce heat. Such treatments act as an insulating barrier, while their thicker construction makes them better at controlling air infiltration than thinner window treatments.
Unlike shades, interior blinds can be adjusted to control light and ventilation. This makes blinds especially useful for summer energy conservation, as you can adjust them in response to outdoor conditions. External shutters are even better, as they prevent heat from reaching the windows in the first place.
During the summer, close all blinds, curtains and shutters on south- and west-facing windows. These directions receive the greatest amount of sunlight in the summer months—if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, that is. If your home is south of the equator, close window treatments and shutters on north- and east-facing windows to combat the heat.
Window awnings extend over and above windows to provide shade and sun protection. In addition to reducing solar heat gain through windows, awnings can also provide shade for patios and other outdoor spaces.
Energy.gov reports that properly installed window awnings can reduce solar heat gain by up to 65% on south-facing windows in the Northern Hemisphere. Awnings over west-facing windows provide even more protection, blocking up to 77 percent of heat gain.
Awnings have traditionally been made from metal or canvas, but modern awnings take advantage of water- and mildew-resistant synthetic materials that also resist fading. Choose awnings made of opaque, tightly woven and light-colored materials for the best sun protection.
Window films can also save energy in the summer. A window film has three layers: an adhesive layer to attach to the glass, a polyester film and a scratch-resistant coating.
Window films can be installed directly over existing windows and are available in a range of tints, UV blockers and colors. Silver, mirror-like films are generally best suited for reflecting sunlight, and provide the most effective energy conservation advantages.
Be aware that window films come with some limitations and disadvantages, including:
Mesh windows have traditionally been used to keep insects and dust outside the home while allowing air to flow through open doors and windows. What’s more, mesh screens also offer some heat protection. Screens can block some solar radiation as they break up sunlight. To be most effective, mesh screens should be mounted on the window’s exterior frame and cover the entire window. Windows on the west-facing sides of the home see the most benefit from mesh screens.
In addition to the tips above, there are ways to save energy and control heat throughout your entire house. Try these summer tips, and see whether your home is cooler.
Although many summer energy-saving tips are inexpensive, the following strategies require some financial investment. Over time, however, these solutions can also offer significant energy savings.
You don’t have to resign yourself to an uncomfortably hot summer or the excessive energy usage that comes from running your air conditioner or HVAC system. By using these energy-saving tips for summer, you can keep your home running more efficiently while also keeping the heat at bay.
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