05-03-2013 01:51 PM
Keeping Your Cool While Staying Cool
by Gina Perry
June is just around the corner and that means two things: school is out and summer is in! But, don’t break out the grill and pool gear just yet. Before the kids pass those final exams—and before the temperatures start to climb—make sure you’re able to stay cool this summer.
As a working mom, this time of year seems to be one of the busiest. I’m often making sure my kids have what they need to get through the final few weeks of school, and I’m also lining up their summer activities. At the same time, I realize that our children are going to be home more often during the summer months, so I want to make sure that our home is comfortable… and that the A/C system is ready for the hotter weather ahead.
That’s why as I’m running through the final checklist for my children’s school year and summer planning, I also take some actions so that my home is primed for the season. Here are a few of my recommendations for this time of year.
Schedule a Pre-Season Tune-Up: I usually do this earlier in the year, but there have been a few instances where I’ve had to do a tune-up in May. If you haven’t done this yet, it isn’t too late to have a professional contractor make sure your A/C system is in prime working order. Proactively servicing your heating and cooling unit helps keep it running smoothly and efficiently, lowering your operating costs and utility bills. What I like about these calls is that the contractor can often spot minor issues before they become expensive repairs.
Clean Your Air Filters: Your air filters do a lot of work. They trap pet hair, dander, dust and more, and then make sure that clean air reaches you. When the A/C system is working its hardest, the filters are working double-time to trap all of these allergens. You can extend the life of your air filters by cleaning them every 30 days or so. Simply run cold water over them until the water runs clear; then, let them air dry. Just by cleaning your filters you can extend the life of them significantly.
Be Smart about Your Programmable Thermostat. Programmable thermostats can help you save up to $180 on your annual energy bills (source: ENERGY STAR®). If you have a programmable model, make the most of it. Set the thermostat at a higher temperature for times when you’re not going to be home. When you are home, try setting it a few degrees higher than your preferred cooling setting. Just bumping up the temperature a little bit can lead to savings on your energy bills. Finally, make sure the “Fan” setting on your thermostat is set to “Auto,” not “On.” This way, the fan kicks in only when needed, thereby conserving energy.
Take a Close Look at Doors and Windows. Our sources at The Home Depot have found that between 30 and 50 percent of the energy used in most homes is eaten up by energy lost through cracks, holes and gaps. Take some time before summer heat waves hit to seal holes around doors and windows. Try using a foam sealant around larger areas near doors, and between window air conditioners (if you have one) and windows. Caulking typically works better in smaller cracks and crevices, like ones by windows or electrical outlets.
The final few weeks of the school year can seem never-ending, and running through some preventative chores around the house may be the last thing on your mind. But, prepping your cooling system for summer is totally worth it. You should start to see lower utility bills, which will help you keep your cool… in addition to staying cool.