(ARA) - Summer's sizzling temperatures can make it difficult to keep your home comfortable, and even more difficult to keep up with the higher utility bills that often come with it. Yet even a few well-chosen improvements can make a big difference in home comfort and energy efficiency. Here are some ways to save on energy costs this season.
A programmable thermostat is a small upgrade with a big impact. Not only can you cool the house more efficiently, but you can pre-set indoor temperatures up and down throughout the day, every day of the week, to match your family's summer schedule. With proper use of pre-programmed settings, you can save up to approximately $180 a year on energy costs, according to the U.S Department of Energy (DOE).
Install efficient windows
Outfitting your home with ENERGY STAR-qualified windows can reduce energy bills by about 7 to 24 percent compared to non-qualified windows. Estimated savings will vary depending on current cooling costs in your region.
Cool more efficiently
About half of a home's energy goes to heating and cooling, according to the DOE. You might consider a hybrid system, which flexibly and affordably brings together two different fuel sources, such as a gas or oil furnace, and an electric heat pump. Hybrid systems are calibrated by your installing dealer to automatically switch between the most economical source of power for efficient cooling and heating year round. For example, an American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning Platinum ZM Hybrid Comfort System (also known as the Heritage Hybrid (TM) Comfort System 4DCZ6) can deliver up to 68 percent savings in heating and cooling costs over a comparable 10-year-old system.
Seal air leaks
Keep the hot summer air out of your home and the cooled air in. Seal ductwork and insulate the ducts in areas such as the attic, unfinished basement and garage. Make sure that vents and registers that meet floors, walls and ceilings in your home are well sealed.
Reduce hot water use
Lower your water heating costs by using and wasting less hot water in your home. You can significantly reduce hot water use by simply repairing leaks in fixtures such as faucets and showerheads. Installing a low-flow showerhead also helps.
Everyday energy savers
Even small changes in family routines can make a difference. Turn off computers and monitors when they are not in use. Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. Turn the lights off when you leave a room. Heat meals in your microwave instead of the conventional oven - cooking will be simpler, more energy efficient, and you'll have more time to enjoy the summer, too.