It’s that time of year in Savannah when the temperatures start to rise, and love it or hate it, it’s hot outside, folks. While hot summer days certainly aren’t exclusive to Savannah and the Lowcountry, the high temperatures combined with the high humidity are hard for anyone to ignore. And the solution for most everyone is simple: escape to a place with some air-conditioning. Trying to beat the heat during the summer months (May through September) without air-conditioning is nearly impossible and can even be dangerous. The biggest challenge that many face as during the dog days of summer is trying to stay as comfortable as possible without spending an arm and a leg on utility costs. But don’t fret — there are some easy ways to beat the heat and save money on your summer power bill without sacrificing your comfortable cool air.
1. Change your air filter(s).
This should be a no-brainer, but I have seen some really disgusting air filters before, and I will admit that some of those have been in my own home. I absolutely understand and agree 100% that this is one of those tasks that you always think of at the most inopportune time, and never with regularity. My solution? Plan ahead. Determine when your filter will need to be changed next (you should change it monthly), and then set an alarm or a calendar reminder on your phone, computer, etc.; just make sure you will be reminded in a month in some way that you need to change your air filter.
2. Clean your air filter(s).
Again, a no-brainer, or either this is something you have thought of and dismissed it as too much work. Don’t think that way. Halfway through the month, check your filter and if it need a few swipes with a dusting cloth or a vacuum attachment, go for it. You will be surprised at how much of a difference this can make. An air filter that is dirty will have to work twice as hard, and that means more energy that your HVAC unit is exerting.
3. Fans are your friends.
Both ceiling fans and upright (floor) fans help keep the air circulating and can make your home feel more comfortable without you having to keep your HVAC running at a low (colder) temperature. Also, using fans to keep the air circulating while you aren’t home will mean that HVAC doesn’t have to run twice as hard when you come home and turn it down.
But Which Direction?
During the summer, you want the air blowing directly on you so you will feel cooler from the wind chill effect (which is how fans cool you off). Stand under the fan and turn on high speed. If you don’t feel the air moving at you well, then turn the fan off and flick the reverse toggle switch. Turn it back on high speed. If you feel more air, you have it in the right position. Whichever position you feel the most air movement when standing directly under the fan is the correct position for summer.
4. Give the thermostat space.
If you can, avoid having lamps and appliances near your thermostat–its heat sensor will pick up the heat that is put out by these items and will think that it needs to work harder to cool the house, which means a higher utility bill for you.
5. Turn it all off.
If you’re leaving your house, make sure to turn off all of your lights and turn up the temperature on your thermostat. This way, your HVAC isn’t working to cool an empty house but it won’t have to work as hard when you return home and turn the temperature back down. Better still, invest in a smart system like Nest, which we’ve mentioned before. This system can be controlled from the wall-mounted thermostat and through an app on your phone, so if you forget to turn the thermostat up before you leave, you’re still covered — you can use your phone to adjust your thermostat. Better still, over the course of a few weeks, Nest will acclimate to your usual HVAC temperature settings and will begin to automatically adjust itself to those settings, saving both energy and money on utility bills.
These are just a few things that can be done to help keep your energy costs low without sacrificing your comfort, but doing so not only guarantees that you will have a more comfortable and consistently cooled home, but you will be able to do without having to spend all of your summer fun money on your utility bills.