Designing a landscape around your climate is key to maximizing energy-savings. | Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com/RiverNorthPhotography
Flowers are blooming, temperatures are steadily climbing, and bunny rabbits have infiltrated the neighborhoods. These are all sure signs that spring is here and summer is not far behind. There may be a few lingering rain showers, but it's still time to get your home ready for summer. Just like your summer clothes need to be dusted off and prepared for the hot days ahead, your house does, too!
Get Ready for Storms
Check your roof flashing, caulking, and shingles for any damage. Flashing should be sealed with approved roofing sealant. Also inspect the caulking and weatherstripping around doors and windows to ensure your home is air sealed to prevent moisture and heat from entering your home. If you need to repair the caulking or weatherstripping, we have some DIY projects to help!
Prepare for Heat
Be prepared for summer temperatures by showing your air conditioner some TLC. Maintaining your air conditioner will save you money by extending the unit’s life. First check the filters; clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce efficiency. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by 5% to 15%. Also keep your air conditioner evaporator coils clean. . If you have a split system, clean debris and leaves from the fan, compressor, and condenser. Also change the direction of your ceiling fan so that it spins counter clockwise. A ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.
To keep your home cool, consider limiting use of the oven, and use a microwave or an outdoor grill instead. Installing efficient lighting that needs less energy can also help keep room temperatures cooler. Only about 10% to 15% of the electricity that incandescent lights consume results in light—the rest is turned into heat. Buy energy efficient lighting like LEDs or CFLs instead!
Plan for Landscaping
Warmer temperatures mean it's time to get your hands dirty (with soil, that is). A well-designed landscape can not only add beauty to your home, it can also reduce your heating and cooling costs. Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of the energy a typical household uses, and on average a well-designed landscape saves enough energy to pay for itself in less than eight years!
Make sure you are landscaping for your climate zone and microclimate. Understanding your climate zone can help you determine the best energy-saving landscaping strategies for your home. Below is a map of the four broadest categories of climate zones for the lower 49 states.
Strategize for Daily Comfort and Efficiency
You can keep your home cool and comfortable all summer long without guzzling electricity. Purchase a programmable thermostat to automatically set back the temperature when you are not at home. Dry your clothes outside in the summer sunshine rather than your dryer to save on energy costs. Keep blinds and curtains closed on south-facing windows during the day to reduce solar heat gain.
The summer brings longer days, barbeques, and tan lines, but it can also mean higher energy costs. Make sure your home is ready and start saving energy and money! Want more tips? Check out other spring and summer energy-saving tips on Energy Saver.