Aug
07

Keep Your Home Cool During Hot Chicago Summer

August 07, 2010

So far, this has been the 15th warmest Chicago summer on record since officials started keeping track 140 years ago.

How well is your air conditioner working?

Here are some simple things you can do to ensure you are getting the most out of your air conditioner’s performance and energy efficiency, according to Mary Beth Breckenridge of RISMedia:

*Close windows: This seems obvious, but do you know why you need to close windows when the air conditioning is running? Air conditioners remove moisture from the air. When you open windows, the air you let in is warm, but it’s also moist, which means your air conditioner has to work harder to remove humidity and dry your home.

*Block sunlight: The sun’s rays can increase indoor temperatures, so you should cover windows on the sunny sides of your house during the day. For long-term solutions, consider adding awnings or planting trees to provide shade.

*Leave it on: I often use the air conditioner only at night to save money and energy. Turns out, I’m wasting more by doing this. When you turn off air conditioning in extreme heat, warmth and humidity build up and your unit has to work harder to eliminate them. And, it will use a ton of electricity in the process.

*Check the filter: Do you change your filter once or twice a year like most good homeowners? Apparently, great homeowners change or clean theirs every one to three months. In many forced-air systems, the furnace filter is also the air-conditioning filter. Check manufacturer recommendations on how often to clean or replace it.

*Set fan on automatic: New research suggests that leaving the fan running constantly increases the stack effect, which is when a house pulls in outside air to replace air that rises and escapes inside. Keep the fan on automatic and let it do its thing.

*Unblock vents: This includes supply registers and cold-air returns. Move furniture if you need to in order to ensure that air can move freely throughout the house.

*Cook out: On hottest days, try not to use the oven. Even when it’s closed, an oven can add as much heat to the air as an air conditioner can take out in the same amount of time.

*Minimize humidity: Run exhaust fans when you shower or bathe and run hot-water appliances, like dishwashers, at night.

*Turn off lights: Another reason to use CFLs; they are cooler than the old incandescents. Only 10 percent of the electricity that those old light bulbs use turn into the light, the rest becomes heat. Turn off lights when you leave a room.

July 3 through August 15 are designated as Air Conditioning Appreciation Days. Appreciate and take care of your air conditioner, then cnjoy the rest of your hot Chicago summer in comfort.

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Tracey

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