Four Energy-Saving Tips for the Summer

Whether you've recently installed a solar system on your home or are considering adding one, it's important to give some thought to your energy efficiency. An energy-efficient home will be less demanding in its electricity use, which means you can help offset more of your utility bill with solar.

However, summer can be one of the most challenging seasons for homeowners who want to limit their energy use. According to the U.S. Energy Department, air conditioners alone account for 5% of all the electricity consumed in the U.S., costing homeowners an average of $11 billion and generating roughly 100 million tons of carbon dioxide each year.

For much of the U.S., the summer months are the hottest of the year, increasing the burden on the home's electrical system. Luckily, following these four tips will help to make your home more energy efficient and save electricity.

1). Take advantage of natural ventilation

If you live in a climate where temperatures cool down at night and you enjoy regular breezes, you can use your windows for home cooling. Once the temperature drops, open your windows and turn on any ceiling or portable fans. This will help the cooler outside air circulate through the house and push warmer air out.

You can make natural ventilation more effective by controlling heat buildup during the day. Window coverings can block direct sunlight from entering the home and insulated shades will reduce the conduction of heat through the windows.

2). Upgrade or maintain your cooling system

If you're running an older air conditioner in your home, you may want to consider upgrading to an energy-efficient model. The Energy Department estimates high-efficiency air conditioners can lower your home cooling costs by 20-50%.

Regular air conditioner maintenance is also important. Change your filters at least every three months. A clogged filter can disrupt the airflow of your unit and make it pull more electricity. Replacing a clogged filter alone can reduce your air conditioner's energy consumption by 5 to 15%. You should also keep the coils and coil fins clear of debris, as this can also impede airflow and make your air conditioner less efficient.

3). Eliminate air leaks

In addition to operating your cooling system efficiently, you need to ensure cooled air isn't escaping your home while hot air creeps in from outside. EnergyStar estimates that homeowners can reduce their heating and cooling costs by as much as 15% simply by air sealing their homes and adding insulation to attics and crawl spaces. Beyond increasing the insulation in your home, you can also add caulk or weather stripping around leaky doors and windows to prevent air from escaping.

4). Avoid adding heat to your house

Many of the large appliances in the typical American home add to its heat load and make the air conditioner work harder. These include your dishwasher, stove and dryer. Take advantage of the sun and warm air of summer to hang your clothes on an outside line as often as possible. You can also try letting your dishes air dry or cook on an outside grill instead of using your stove.

Your home's lighting can also make your rooms warmer if you're using incandescent bulbs. These lightbulbs use 10-15% of their energy to generate light and give the rest off as heat. Using cooler LED bulbs will reduce the heat generated in the home and require less energy to provide light.

Following these steps will make your home more energy efficient – reducing your energy costs and helping contribute more clean energy to the electrical grid when you have a solar system.