SolarDay is June 19, 2010, and to celebrate the folks behind the event forwarded some invaluable tips on how to save money on our energy bills this summer. Here they are, straight from the source.
1. To begin, change your filters in your heating/cooling system. Change them regularly - at least monthly.
2. Next change your thermostat over to "cool" and test the system by turning the temperature down. If the air conditioner does not turn on, first check to make sure no breakers are tripped. If you can't figure out the problem, call your heating and air-conditioning repair person. Calling early may keep you from making an "emergency" call when the temperatures are soaring and the repair people are super busy and expensive.
3. If your cooling system turns on, make sure it is putting out adequate cooling. If it's not, and you can't figure out the problem, call your heating and air-conditioning repair person. Set the thermostat at 78 degrees.
4. If your air conditioner needs replacement do it before the hot weather hits so you're not wilting because the heating & air-conditioning repair people are very busy. And more than likely, some other things around your home might need attention as well.
5.Your air ducts may need testing for leaks and then sealed. Your attic insulation probably has compacted, so you need to add an additional 5 to 8 inches. Your windows and doors and other parts of the building envelope may need caulking and weather stripping. Think about solar window film to keep out the heat.
6. Consider changing your old thermostat to a programmable one. You can save up to $100 a year by using a new set-back thermostat. If your thermostat is really old and uses a mercury switch (a glass tube filed with yes, mercury, a silvery substance) call your local public works department to find out how to dispose of this toxic material.
7. Consider installing a whole-house fan that uses cool air in the evening to cool the entire house and push hot air out of the attic area.
8. If you cover your air conditioner's condenser unit (the part that is outside the house) for the winter, take off the cover and clean the coils. Clear areas around the condenser unit so that it has full air flow.
9. Ceiling fans or whole house fans can help reduce your need to use the air conditioner.
10. Take down the old storm windows (if you live in areas where you need them) and get those screens cleaned and ready to put up.
11. And don't forget your car. Get it ready for summer and any vacations by filling up the tires, changing filters, checking the fluids and getting a tune up if it's needed. If you haven't turned on your car air conditioner for months it may be out of coolant, check it before taking a long, hot, summer drive.