DETROIT, June 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Now that we've all survived a brutal winter in which heating bills were a challenge to control, the summer air conditioning season can provide some new challenges as people escape the heat and humidity.
But there are some simple, effective things you can do to start saving today. And you can share these tips with family, friends and neighbors.
CoolCurrents. This Interruptible Air Conditioning rate program could save you up to 12 percent off the air conditioning portion of your energy bill. Your central air conditioner is wired to a separate meter and on select hot summer days, DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE) may briefly cycle your air conditioning unit in 15-minute intervals. The cycling is limited to no more than eight hours in a 24-hour period. For more information, see dteenergy.com/coolcurrents.
Install a programmable thermostat. Program your thermostat to work around your family's summer schedule. A setting of 78 degrees is recommended in the summer. With proper use throughout the year, programmable thermostats can save you about $180 annually in energy costs. And remember, increasing your thermostat setting in the summer can add to your energy savings. DTE Energy customers can get a $20 rebate while funding lasts. See dteenergy.com/thermostat for more information.
Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze. By running ceiling fans in a counterclockwise (downward) direction, it creates a wind-chill effect that will make you "feel" cooler. But remember, ceiling fans only cool people, not the room, so turn ceiling fans off when you leave the room.
Use an exhaust fan to blow hot, humid air out of your kitchen while cooking. You'll save more in cooling costs than the electricity to run the fan.
To avoid activities that add heat and humidity to your home during the hottest parts of the day, consider the following:
- Cook outside on the grill instead of using the oven whenever possible.
- Use your microwave or other countertop appliances in place of the oven.
- Postpone laundry and dishwashing until nighttime when the outside air is cooler.
- Let dishes air dry in the dishwasher rather than using the drying feature.
Minimize the number of times that outside doors and windows are opened and closed. Hot, outside air enters your home every time the doors and windows open.
Close curtains and shades on the south- and west-facing windows to block out sunlight. You can also plant trees to shade windows or move container trees and plants in front of windows to add shade.
Shade your air conditioner, too. Direct sunshine on the heat exchanger decreases its efficiency. A well-placed tree or awning will shade and protect the unit. Also, keep shrubbery and flowers away from your central air conditioner's outdoor heat exchanger. This restricts its ability to release warm air and lowers its efficiency.
Use high-efficiency light bulbs. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) use 75 percent less energy, produce about 75 percent less heat and provide the same amount of light.
Maintain your central air conditioner
Keep your cooling system at peak performance by having your central air conditioner inspected annually before the cooling season begins.
Here are some tasks you may be able to perform yourself.
- Clean or replace the air filter at least every three months. Filters reduce the amount of dust and dirt that flow through your ductwork and into your home. Dirty filters can increase your energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to early failure.
- For peak energy performance, always operate and maintain your system according to manufacturers' guidelines.
- Check your outdoor condenser unit for dirt and debris. Remove leaves, grass and debris from the outside condenser monthly during warm months.
- Your central a/c system includes a tube that drains off any condensation. Check the drain periodically for any algae growth or blockage. If you see anything in the drain, remove the drain tube at the furnace and clean it by pouring a simple half bleach and half water solution through it.
Replace your central air conditioner
Consider buying an energy-efficient air conditioner with a higher Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating. SEER ratings allow consumers to compare operating costs of various cooling systems. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficiently the air conditioner runs, which reduces your energy use.
Buying a new unit is a great first step toward lowering your energy usage and your bills. What should you keep in mind as you shop?
- Although upfront costs can be higher, long-term savings comes to you in lower energy usage. ENERGY STAR central air conditioners, which have at least a 14 SEER, are the most efficient models on the market.
- Look for the EnergyGuide label with a 14 or higher SEER.
- The capacity of a central air conditioning unit is an important factor to consider. A qualified heating and cooling contractor can make the necessary calculations for your home to recommend the proper size unit. Don't assume the new unit should be exactly the same as your existing unit, which may not have been properly sized in the first place.
- Locate your outdoor central air conditioning unit out of direct sunlight, and avoid the south and west sides of the house, if possible. Placing the unit in direct sunlight causes it to work harder to cool your home.
- To maximize the efficiency of your new cooling system, the qualified contractor may need to change both the indoor and the outdoor compressor coils when replacing an older central air conditioning unit. This ensures the coils are properly matched for maximum efficiency, comfort and dependability.
- If you purchase a central air conditioning unit with at least a 15 SEER, you'll receive a rebate from DTE Energy, while funding lasts.
For more information, go to:dteenergy.com/summer.
SOURCE DTE Energy