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Top 5 Ways to Chill Out This Summer with ENERGY STAR

Even when the temperature goes up, your utility bills can still stay low. With help from ENERGY STAR you can keep your cool, tame those bills, and help fight climate change. The secret is to keep your cooling system from working too hard. Discover these Top 5 Ways to Chill Out with ENERGY STAR, so that you and your cooling system can both enjoy the summer! Find out more at

Keep the heat out

Take advantage of shades, blinds, curtains, awnings and even trees to  keep the sun out during the day, especially on the south and west side of your house. If you are upgrading your windows, consider ENERGY STAR certified windows, which will keep even more heat out. Find and seal leaks (the biggest ones are in your attic and basement) – this will also help reduce humidity and keep out pests and pollen.  Consider adding attic insulation so less heat radiates down into your house from your hot attic.  Sealing air leaks and improving your homes insulation could save you up to $200 a year in cooling/heating costs (or about 10 percent of your annual energy bill).  Finally, if you’re replacing your roof, you can reduce the effects of the hot sun by installing cool roof shingles -- especially if you live in the hot, sunny South.  You could also install cool, reflective metal roofing or paint a flat roof with a reflective paint to help keep your home cooler. 

Keep the cool in

You’re paying for your AC’s cool air, so don’t let it leak out of your ducts before it gets to the vent and the rooms you want to cool. That’s YOUR air!  In most homes, 25 percent of air that flows through air conditioning ducts leaks out before it gets to you. So get a contractor to test your ducts, seal them, and insulate them so you’re not paying for cool air you don’t get to use. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of an HVAC system by as much as 20 percent.

Maintain Your cooling system

A simple tune up of your HVAC equipment can do wonders.  Make sure you also change your air filter regularly – EPA recommends every three months at a minimum.   And, if you do not have a programmable thermostat – install one and program it around your family’s summer schedule. Setting the thermostat up by seven degrees when you're away from home and up by four degrees when you’re asleep can save more than $180 a year.

Be a fan of fans

If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan instead, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. Use bedroom fans on those cooler summer nights when you might be able to turn off your central air conditioning and naturally cool your home for a lot less. Plus, don’t forget to use your ENERGY STAR certified vent fans to get rid of that unwanted humid air in your bathroom after a shower.

Look for the ENERGY STAR

If your central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an ENERGY STAR certified model could cut your cooling costs by 30 percent. In the market for a new room air conditioner? Find one that has earned the ENERGY STAR and use about 15 percent less energy. ENERGY STAR certified dehumidifiers also use 15 percent less energy than a conventional unit.  One last easy tip is to change out those old, hot, incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified CFL and LED bulbs, since they produce about 70 percent less heat.

How To Get Started

Do it now:

  • Use your existing window coverings, add new ones, or adjust blinds to keep sun out
  • Raise your thermostat and use an ENERGY STAR certified ceiling fan
  • Schedule a summer cooling system tune-up
  • Change your air filter every three months
  • Replace old, hot, incandescent bulbs with cool ENERGY STAR certified bulbs

Quick projects:

  • Install a programmable thermostat and program it based on your family’s schedule
  • Find air leaks around your house and seal them with spray foam, caulk, and weather-stripping

 Plan & renovate:

  • Improve insulation between your attic and roof
  • Seal and insulate the cooling system ducts in your attic and basement
  • Install low-e windows, awnings, or trees to increase shade
  • Install an ENERGY STAR certified vent fan to use after a shower to reduce humidity
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR if purchasing new air conditioning units, dehumidifiers or windows
  • Consider cool roof shingles; cool, reflective metal roofing; or even just reflective paint. 
This article by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency first appeared on ENERGY STAR.


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