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TAKING THE BITE OUT OF THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER

By Gates Dearen


Man, it’s going to be a rough patch in Northeast Florida. We’ve had some scorchers already and it’s only the beginning of July. You might be thinking a trip to Antarctica should be on the agenda. 
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And we know what’s coming next; those dreaded summer electric bills. During the dog days of summer, you have to keep the air conditioning blasting just to keep your home habitable. If you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to save energy and save money in the sweltering summer months, the answer is “Yes!” There are lots of little things we can do to reduce those pesky electric bills while maintaining a cool, comfortable home.

HAVE YOUR WINDOWS SPRUNG A LEAK?

Drafty, leaky windows can be the leading reason your home isn’t feeling as cool as it should. This causes your air conditioner to run on overdrive just to keep up.  This in turn pumps up your electric bills. Leaky windows allow the humid outside air to permeate your home, leaving it damp feeling and making it more difficult for your air conditioner to remove the overly moist air.

SEAL THOSE WINDOWS

Either replace your old windows with more energy efficient ones or seal the gaps with caulk and weather stripping. Before you do this you’ll want to make sure you’re dealing with a clean surface. This entails getting rid of the old flaky caulk and adhesive that is surrounding the window first. Petroleum jelly will help remove the caulk and adhesive. Then use a little rubbing alcohol to remove the residue left from the petroleum jelly. And there you have it, a clean slate for caulking and plugging the leaks.

Single pane windows are notorious energy hogs, especially older ones. If you can’t afford to replace them, seal them with clear plastic window film, using a blow dryer to shrink the film and get rid of any wrinkles. It’s advisable to seal the interior side of the window rather than the exterior as moisture can get trapped between the film and the glass. Now you’re on your way to saving money.

ADD AESTHETICS WITH WINDOW TREATMENTS 
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There are many options for window treatments these days that are both stylish and energy efficient. Finding the right window covering could go a long way toward saving money. There are single, double and triple cell honeycomb shades that block the sun while providing insulation to prevent drafts. Go window treatment shopping and see how much you’ll save in the long run.

CHECK YOUR DOORS

Could your entry door be part of the problem? Exterior doors have to withstand nature’s elements and often take a beating. Like windows, they can begin to leak over time, especially wooden doors on older homes. Ideally, if there is any real damage to your entry door, then it is probably time to check into replacing it. A stylishly crafted entry door can add beauty and elegance to your home. Most of the new models have energy efficient features. 
If a new door is not in your budget, there are ways to stop those leaks and keep your home at a steady temperature. 

Just like the windows, check the caulk around the door and see if there is obvious damage or gaps. Use a putty knife or utility knife to remove the old caulking and peel the caulk away. Remember to start with a clean surface or the new caulk might not adhere properly.
Weather stripping is another way to lessen air leaks through your door. A weatherboard seals the bottom of the door and directs rain away it at the same time. It can be installed at the base of the door with some screws and adhesive.  If you’re feeling really creative, the weatherboard can be decorative as well. This will add a touch of style to your home while saving on your energy bills this summer.

I’M TELLING YOU- IT’S YOUR AIR CONDITIONER

You know you need it, but it’s going to cost you. That machine in the closet or window works extra hard during the summer. There are ways to make sure it’s running efficiently. Did you know that A/C systems that operate at peak efficiency can save you up to 25% on your energy costs?

MAINTENANCE IS A MUST

Whether you have a central A/C, window or wall units, maintenance is important, and a little TLC goes a long way. If you have a central A/C unit, schedule a check-up with a professional. Regular maintenance can prolong the life of your unit for three to five years and have it running at optimum efficiency when the summer heat is at its worst. Make sure the unit is not blocked by shrubbery or other objects which decrease airflow and make the unit run hotter.  This will damage the unit over time. If you have window units, there are many easy ways to keep them working in top form.

TREAT YOUR AIR FILTER WITH RESPECT

The air filter has a very important role in the A/C unit and if it is dirty or past its prime, it can place significant stress on the entire system. A dirty or clogged filter will cause your air conditioner to work harder to cool your home.  A clogged filter can even cause the unit to freeze solid.  The harder they work, the less efficient they will be and the more frequently they will break down, frequently on one of the hottest days of the year.

Most air filters can be reached by removing the front grill or they are designed to slide out of the side of the unit. If your unit’s filters are designed to be replaced, you should perform this task once a month during the summer.  If it’s made of a synthetic material, then it should be cleaned with a proper solution and a soft cloth. Now you have an unobstructed filter that will help to keep your unit running efficiently.

While the grill cover is off, just go ahead and gently clean the coils to rid them of dust and debris and you have come one step closer to saving on your energy bills.

STAY COOL BY TURNING UP THE THERMOSTAT- REALLY? 
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You can still stay cool and comfortable in your home by turning up the thermostat by using ceiling fans and tower fans. Yes, it’s true and it works. Using the fan and the air conditioner together means that you can set the thermostat to a higher temperature. The fan circulates the cool air which makes you feel cooler. It also gives that “evaporation” effect when perspiration evaporates on your skin.

The U.S Department of Energy suggests keeping the thermostat at 78 degrees when you are home and awake and turning it up a few more degrees when you are away or sleeping. Raising your thermostat just a few degrees will make a significant difference in your energy bills. This is one government decree you‘ll be happy to obey.

In this article, I’ve discussed a few of the ways to save money on those dreaded energy bills during the dog days of summer. Little things can go a long way. Why not give them a try?


Until the next time. 

If you would like to receive an official factory authorized 30% discount coupon for your next window replacement purchase, print out this article with the coupon on it  and bring it with you when visiting HomeRite.

Here are some related article you may want to also read.  Small Windows That Make a Big StatementHow Do You Check for a Leaky House? and Enhance Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Gates Dearen is the co-owner of HomeRite Windows and Doors in Jacksonville, Florida. Owners Dearen and Richard Walden have been serving the building products industry in Florida for over 25 years. They know the products, the industry, the market and what adds great value to a home. Their approach is somewhat different than others.  They strive to match the homeowner with the right windows and doors for their home and budget.  They know that some home improvement projects can be a hassle.  They strive to make the process pleasant with first-rate, energy efficient products; affordable prices; and expert, award-wining installers that employ the best practices and who respect your home as if it were their own.

5 comments:

  1. Nice tips for keep your home cool and comfortable, thanks! ; )

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  2. When it comes to beating the heat, it's the little things that count the most.

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  3. It's been pretty brutal here in St Augustine. I definitely have drafty windows and doors and now I have a new DIY project. Thanks!

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  4. Not just good tips, but perfect ammo to show my wife (who always leaves at least one window open an inch or two year 'round because she likes the "fresh air", but complains about the high electric bills). She is not convinced when I say this is hard on the central AC unit, and worse on the wallet - maybe she'll believe YOU. Wish me luck!

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    ReplyDelete