How to Save Energy Costs in the Summer and Winter

Americans generally spend thousands of dollar a year on their utility bills. Not only is much of this wasted energy, but more carbon dioxide is emitted into the air from one home than two average cars. The following tips will help you save energy costs both the hot and cold seasons.

In the Summer:

* Proper maintenance of your air conditioner can increase its efficiency by about five per cent

Replace the air filters that keep dust out of the duct system – usually every three months for most models.
Remember to check the SEER number (an energy efficiency rating) of an air conditioner before you make this important purchase. An energy efficient air conditioner may be more expensive but it could pay for itself during its lifetime.
Get your air conditioner tuned up on a regular basis. You can clean the outside compressor yourself with a hose, removing debris that impedes air flow.
Following instructions and safety precautions from your air conditioner’s manufacturer, you can also clean the grilles and fan blades, clean and lubricate the fan motor, and clean the coil fins.

* Reduce the time your air conditioner is on

Raise the thermostat by 1 C and lower your electricity bill up to five per cent.
Open windows at night and use fans to blow in cool air. During the day, close your windows and draw the curtains closed to keep out solar energy.
Use fans to cool your room. You can cool the main floor of a house by using a fan to blow cool air up from the basement.

* Go ‘green’ and lower your electricity bill

Planting the right vegetation can lower your energy consumption. A tree or shrub that shades your central air conditioner can improve its efficiency by up to 10 per cent.
Consider planting a deciduous tree on the south side of your lawn to block the sun during the summer, and let in solar energy during the winter when it sheds its leaves.

In the Winter:

Since up to 25 per cent of heat loss is through windows, plastic window covers can help reduce drafts. They can be purchased at most hardware stores.
Keep window curtains open during the day to allow solar energy into your home.
Put removable, temporary caulking on the inside of your windows that you can peel off in the spring.
Reduce the temperature on your thermostat when you’re not at home and overnight. Many new thermostats can be programmed to change the temperature automatically.
If you have forced air heating in your home, give your furnace a break by having ducts cleaned regularly and checked for leaks. Leaky air ducts can cause distribution losses of up to 30 per cent.