Changing Light Bulbs to Cool the House and Other HVAC Tips to Lower Your Energy Bill

blog-icon-hvacStarting at the end of this month and on through September, the Sacramento area is going to get hot, with high temperatures in the 80s and 90s settling down into the Valley, like relatives who won’t leave. While it means a lot of summer fun, it also means spending money to cool down your house. The hotter it gets, the more people turn up the AC, which is why heating and cooling uses up nearly half of household energy use.

People want to be cooler, but also to spend less money. And it isn’t always easy — in the winter, we can say “put on another sweater!” But that’s not as easy in the summer; you can’t just keep adjusting layers (there’s a theoretical minimum, after all). This gives rise to a lot of theories on how to cool a house, some of them straightforward, some more outlandish. There are even a couple that you may have never thought of that can make a difference. Every penny saved helps. Here are our best tips to help you save money and enjoy yourself more this summer.


Tips to Lower Your Cooling Costs This Summer


Tip #1: Check the Direction of Your Ceiling Fan


Quick — without looking, what direction does your ceiling fan spin? Is it clockwise or counterclockwise? Knowing full well that in a few years there might be kids who don’t even know what that means (“what’s a clock?”), this actually matters a great deal. When a fan is spinning clockwise, it creates an updraft, pulling the air from the lower part of the room to the higher part and displacing the warm air that collects after it rises. This dispersion heats up a room — a good thing in wintertime, but pretty bad in the summer. In the summer, make sure your fan is rotating counterclockwise. This creates the breeze that keeps you cool. Until the temps get too warm, a fan can cool most rooms. Having one — that’s going the right way —  means not your AC doesn’t have to be up so high. Some fans have a switch to reverse it, but even if not, reversing the motor is a simple fix.


Tip #2: Shade Your Air Conditioner


Putting a source of shade on the condenser unit of your air conditioning system (the box that’s outside and makes the noise, also home to the compressing unit). This displaces the warm air from your house and brings in cooler air. So the cooler the air around it, the less it has to work. This is why a lot of people build a tarp or something else to block the sun so that the air isn’t so warm. This can be effective, though not by very much. Again, though, every little bit helps.

What’s actually much more effective is trees. While they cost more to plant, trees are incredibly beneficial. Trees make for cooler air, not just in the spot directly shaded by the covering, but all over the yard. In addition to shading the condenser, they also block the sun from windows, reducing your overall cooling bill by as much as $200 a year. This idea is definitely one that long-term owners should consider as a way to save money for years to come. Not to mention that trees are pretty easy on the eyes as well.


Tip #3: Change to Cooler CFL and LED Light Bulbs


You may have noticed that your light bulbs can get hot. Sitting under a lamp to read or just to eat dinner can make you feel warm — it can actually increase the temperature of the room. If you’re using a regular incandescent bulb, it can get as hot as 500 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the wattage. If that heat is radiating into your room on an already-sweltering night, you’re going to want to crank up the AC.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. A better method is to use CFL or LED bulbs. These already save energy, of course. But they can indirectly save energy by letting the room cool down. CFLs create 90-95% less heat than incandescent bulbs, according to one study. CNET reports in another study that a regular incandescent bulb ran at 327 degrees Fahrenheit, as opposed to 167°F for a CFL and only 107°F for an LED bulb. That’s a huge difference.


Tip #4: Regular Repair and Maintenance


Imagine your HVAC system like that rotating ceiling fan. Put some weights on it, something that slows it down on every rotation. Your room is probably not going to get very cool, right? And your fan is going to have to work harder. It’s the same way with your HVAC system. Regular checkups, pre-emptive maintenance, and repair prevent your cooling system from having to work harder to function at a lower efficiency. When something is wrong, you crank it up even more, since you’re not getting cool. That’s not just a huge drain on energy, it’s a huge drag on your wallet. Making sure the system is working right is the best way to save money on cooling bills this summer.

Stay Cool in the Heat

There are a lot of good DIY tips and tricks to lower your cooling bills, but when it comes to fixing or shoring up an HVAC system, the professionals at Bell Brothers are your Sacramento-area experts. We’ll make sure that your system is running smoothly. Connect with us today to learn more about our guaranteed performance.