The warmer months of the year are great for enjoying outdoor activities, but they also come with higher cooling costs for your Birmingham, Alabama, home. Here are some ways to save energy, help the environment, and keep your home more comfortable in spring and summer.

Use Your Thermostat Efficiently

Setting your thermostat to a higher temperature in summer saves energy, and you may be surprised to learn that setting it to a colder temperature won’t cool your home any faster. In addition to paying attention to the temperature setting, make sure your thermostat is out of the sun and away from lamps and other appliances. Your air conditioner will stay on for too long if the area around your thermostat is warmer than the rest of your home.

Install a programmable thermostat to raise the temperature in your home automatically when you leave for work or go on vacation, and then lower it again before you come home. Some models can control different zones, to avoid cooling or heating unoccupied areas. Many can even connect with your smartphone via Wi-Fi.

Prevent Air Leaks

Cracks in doors and windows and gaps in insulation can waste energy by letting warm air and moisture, as well as pollutants and pests, into your home. Apply caulk to cracks in door or window frames, and use weatherstripping for the bottoms of doors and windows. Check the insulation in your attic and basement for leaks at least once per year, and replace any damaged sections as soon as possible. An equipment performance evaluation from an HVAC professional will let you know where you should add new insulation to save the most energy.

Use Smart Landscaping

The right landscaping can save energy. Plant shade trees on the west and northwest sides of your home. They can help extend the life of your HVAC system by alleviating some of its workload, and when they lose their leaves for winter, the sun will provide natural warmth.

If you don’t want to wait for trees to grow, plant climbing vines on a fence or trellis instead. Shrubs near the outside of your home add extra insulation as well as shade. Just leave two or three feet of space around your HVAC unit so it can work efficiently.

Upgrade to a Ductless System

Ductless mini-split or multi-split HVAC systems have an outdoor unit and one or more indoor units linked together by a small conduit. Since there’s no need for ductwork, you’ll never have to worry about leaks or clogs in your ducts that could increase your utility bill and lower your indoor air quality. Installation is fast as well. If you already have ductwork, your installer will usually close its openings and leave it in place. Since many ductless systems have multiple zones, getting rid of warm spots is easy. Some systems even come with a remote control.

Minimize Humidity

High humidity makes you feel hot and sweaty in the warmer months and can cause mold and rot. By lowering the moisture in your home, you’ll reduce the demand on your air conditioner because you’ll feel comfortable even at higher temperatures. Use the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms when you cook or take a shower, and be sure their ducts should reach the outside of your home.

You should also use a dehumidifier. Portable models are less expensive and work well in humid areas like your basement. A whole-home dehumidifier connects to your ductwork to remove moisture from your entire home.

Tune Up Your Equipment

Regular maintenance helps your HVAC system stay efficient and last longer. Have your equipment serviced at least once per year to prevent inconvenient breakdowns. You should also check your air filter every month and change it when it’s dirty. A dirty filter forces your system to work harder, raising energy bills. Too much dust and dirt in your system can also cause expensive problems.

One Source Heating & Cooling has 20 years of HVAC experience, and our technicians are NATE and EPA certified. We can install, repair, and maintain an HVAC system to help you save money and energy. Contact us anytime at 205-209-4246.

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