23 Mar Ask GHA Anything!
As the GreenHomes America network grows, we receive many questions about improving home comfort. For example, many homes across the country contain comfort issues. So, don’t feel alone if your home is cold in the winter and hot and sticky in the summer. Our experience with existing homes shows most homebuilders were never taught proper insulation or air sealing techniques. Therefore, most of the existing homes in the United States remain poorly insulated and leak air at very high rates.
As a result, we have the knowledge and desire to help homeowners enjoy their homes. Plus, as an added bonus, many of the solutions translate into lower monthly energy costs! For example, many homeowners experience high electric bills and want to know how to lower their costs.
How do I lower my electric bills in the summer?
My electric bills are very high in the summer months. We use our air conditioning system set to 74 during the day and 76 at night. The AC system is about 10 years old and our house was built in the 1970’s. How do I lower my utility bills in the summer while staying comfortable in our home?
- Kathy in California
From your letter, it seems that your summertime electric bills are much higher than your electric bills the rest of the year. In most homes, the summertime electric use of central air conditioners and/or the seasonal use of pool pumps are the most common culprits.
Looking closer at the electrical use of a home’s central air conditioning system, homeowners can save money on summertime electrical bills by improving the efficiency of the home itself and increasing the efficiency of the air conditioning system.
Looking at each of these energy improvements more closely, improving the efficiency of your home to reduce electric bills in the summer includes:
Comprehensive Air Sealing of your HomeHoles, gaps, and cracks are much more common between the inside of your home and attics, crawl spaces, basements, garages or to the outside than homeowners believe. Excessive air leakage in homes is a main cause for high utility bills in the summer. For more information on reducing air leakage in your home, click on Comprehensive Air Sealing of your Home.
Improving your Home’s InsulationUpgrading your home’s insulation to the recommended thickness helps reduce electric bills in the summer. To be effective, however, insulation must be air sealed. Also, insulations requires proper installation. This means insulation with the proper thickness and no gaps, compressions or voids. For more information on upgrading your home’s insulation, click on Improving your Home’s Insulation.
Improving the Efficiency of Windows in your HomeIf you live in a hot climate and your existing windows are old and inefficient, upgrading your windows helps reduce summer air conditioning costs. In most homes, comprehensive air sealing and upgrading your home’s insulation should be done first. However, installing windows with a low SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient) can help home’s in hot climates reduce summertime air conditioning costs. Click here to learn how Improving the Efficiency of Windows in your Home.
Improve the Efficiency of Lighting and Appliances in your HomeThe heat given off by inefficient lighting and home appliances adds heat, which requires removal by your home’s central A/C system. Efficient LED lighting together with Energy Star appliances helps save in the summer. Why? Because your home’s A/C system removes less heat from your house. To learn more, click here “Improve the Efficiency of Lighting and Appliances in your Home.
In addition to improving the efficiency of your home, improving the efficiency of your central air conditioning system itself will also help to reduce your summer electric bills. Improving the efficiency of your central air conditioning systems includes:
Improving the Efficiency of Your Central Air Conditioner - Central Air Conditioners are all rated for their energy efficiency in terms of their SEER Rating. To learn more, click here Improving the Efficiency of Your Central Air Conditioner.
Improving the Efficiency of Your Ductwork Distribution System - Even energy efficient homes with an efficient central air conditioning system lose significant amounts of cool air through duct leaks. This significantly increases high electric bills (particularly in the summer). Additionally, poorly insulated ducts also increase electric bills all summer long. To learn more about improving the efficiency of duct systems, read about Improving the Efficiency of Your Ductwork Distribution System.
Other things that may cause high electric bills in the summer include inefficient pool pumping systems or use of dehumidifiers. To learn more about finding and reducing the impact of “hidden” or secondary electric loads on summer utility bills, click here: Reducing Hidden Electric Loads.
If you have a question for GHA, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.