Here are 17 ways to cool down your house to ease air-conditioning costs

HOUSTON – We all know it’s hot and your air-conditioner is running probably non-stop.

However there are ways to give your AC a bit of a break — or at the minimum, make it run a little less with these hacks.

Here are a few ways that you could install on your own or work with a professional to accomplish:

1. Shut the curtains/blinds during the day and when you’re not home

Use curtains — Open curtains and shades on south-facing windows during the day and close them at night to help slow the escape of the heat. (SXC)

It may seem like a no-brainer to some, but we’ll say it: Get yourself some blackout curtains or thick Roman shades or thermal curtains to keep out the sun’s rays. It’s especially important to keep them drawn during the day to keep rays out of areas you want to keep cool if you’re not occupying the space. These window treatments can decrease the amount of money spent on heating and air conditioning, as the curtains can reduce the amount of heat lost in cooler months and reflect heat in the summer, SFGate notes.

Ad

2. Get an AC inspection

Air conditioning units

An expert air-conditioning inspection can help your system run better and more efficiently. In addition to checking your unit inside and outside your home, HVAC experts can also fill up levels of refrigerant in your air-conditioner so you won’t have an underperforming unit.

3. Score a duct booster fan

Who knew about these little gadgets? We didn’t. But here’s the way they work. Duct booster fans replace floor or mounted covers in order to get air moving faster than it normally would through the vent.

4. Pressure wash your house

Contractors pressure wash algae and sludge from the original Roman lead lined floor of the Great Bath as it is drained of 250,000 litres of hot natural thermae spa water as part of a spring cleaning operation, at the historic Roman Baths on March 27, 2018 in Bath, England. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images) (2018 Getty Images)

It’s important to keep the outside of your home clean. This is especially important around areas of your home that have air intake and exhaust. If these areas are clogged with dirt or debris, your HVAC system will have to run harder to bring in air to cool and work harder to cool spaces that may be trapping hot air.

5. Get pest control

A vapor, sprayed to control mosquitos, hangs airborne as it leaves the nozzle of a East Middlesex Mosquito Control Project pick-up truck on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, while driving through a neighborhood in Burlington, Mass. Officials are preparing for another summer with a high number of cases of eastern equine encephalitis, a rare but severe neurological illness transmitted by mosquitoes that hit the state particularly hard last summer. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Pest control is a good idea around an HVAC system. Bugs and rodents can invade the spaces that house your HVAC system and can cause a lot of damage inside the system and to it. Get experts or do it yourself, but target both insects and rodents to avoid damage to your ductwork or the unit’s wiring. Be sure to have the inside and outside of your home treated. Also, keep overgrowth away from your units so animals won’t find a home inside the perceived shelter of them. Not only will the critters likely die in there, they could also short out your unit and cause costly damages.

Ad

6. Put some floor fans in

Katherine Morgan sits in front of a box fan while trying to stay cool in her downtown apartment without air conditioning on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Portland, Ore. People have headed to cooling centers as the Pacific Northwest began sweltering under another major, multiday heat wave. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Air circulation is a great goal for your home. You can move cool air from your unit’s vents to warm areas of your home and circulate that warm air to the intake vents for your air-conditioning unit. Floor fans are a great way to get this circulation going.

7. Plug in a dehumidifier

De’Longhi 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier and Fan (AP/Business Wire)

Dehumidifiers help extract moisture out of the air. While dehumidifiers do not make air cooler, they do help with feels-like temperatures in your home. Your home will feel several degrees cooler and definitely more comfortable.

8. Get an energy audit

Bilqis Alam, an energy advisor from the South East London Community Energy co-operative (Selce), installs draught proofing rubber strips to the front door frame of the home of her client Tia Rutherford, in south east London, Tuesday, March 22, 2022. People across the United Kingdom will face tough choices in coming months as energy costs for millions of households are set to rise by 54% on Friday. It’s the second big jump in energy bills since October, and a third may be ahead as rebounding demand from the COVID-19 pandemic and now Russia’s war in Ukraine push energy prices higher. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Energy audits are a great way to figure out how your home is performing under extreme circumstances. Professional energy assessments generally go into great detail to assess your home’s energy use, federal authorities say. The energy assessor will do a room-by-room examination of the home, as well as a thorough examination of past utility bills. Many professional energy assessments will include a blower door test and a thermographic scan. Assessors may use equipment to detect sources of energy loss, such as blower doors, infrared cameras, furnace efficiency meters, and surface thermometers.

Ad

Here’s guidance on a do-it-yourself energy audit.

9. Heat-reducing film over the windows

You can buy film that you apply over windows. Window films (applied to the glazing surface) help block against solar heat gain and protect against glare and ultraviolet exposure. They are best used in climates with long cooling seasons, because they also block the sun’s heat in the winter, according to government guidance.

Here’s a do-it-yourself guide to apply the window film.

Government guidance notes that these window films “can be useful for homeowners who don’t want to block views with other window treatments, but who have issues with glare and solar heat gain. They can also be a good choice on windows that are difficult to fit with other window treatments, or in places where artwork, furniture, or carpeting could be faded by UV exposure.”

Ad

Films typically have three layers:

1. An adhesive layer that sits against the glass;

2. A polyester film layer;

3. A scratch-resistant coating. You may also choose options such as tints, UV blockers, or thicker films that offer security. Low-e films are also emerging as an energy-saving option.

10. Seal up cracks around windows and doors

A good idea is to seal up any cracks or crevices you can around your home, and in particular around your windows which can let heat and cold air into your home. You can do this with a caulking gun and some sealant. Here’s a tutorial on what to look for and how to apply sealant (it doesn’t have to be this brand, just so you know).

You can also seal up cracks around your doors as well. A good thing to look into is replacing your door sweeps (those things that block air at the bottom of your doors) and filling those cracks (like you did on your windows) with sealant.

Ad

11. Start your ceiling fans twirling in the appropriate direction for the season

Ceiling fans can keep you cool and help you conserve electricity

Did you know nearly every ceiling fan can go clockwise and counterclockwise? You can change the direction using the button switch (on older models) or on the remote (on newer models). In the wintertime, you want the fan to go clockwise and in the summertime you want to have the fan go counterclockwise. In the summer, the counterclockwise motion brings cold air down to the bottom of the room to help your air conditioning system work more efficiently.

12. Switch out your lightbulbs

Got new lightbulbs? (WDIV)

You can limit heat production in your home by changing out incandescent lightbulbs to energy-sipping LEDs. This simple, relatively inexpensive change can make a big difference, according to government information. Residential LEDs — especially Energy Star-rated products — use at least 75% less energy, and last up to 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.

13. Replace those dingy, clogged air filters

Make sure you change that filter. (WDIV.)

You should replace your HVAC system’s filters every three months. As “This Old House” notes, “An HVAC system has to work hard to pull air through a clogged filter. This continuous strain on the unit can cause it to break, causing you to pay for expensive repairs or replacements.” So let’s give that air-conditioner a break and change those filters, y’all. Just do it!

Ad

14. Get yourself a smart and programmable thermostat

Incentives for conserving energy

Get yourself a smart thermostat. These thermostats can “think” and regulate temperature settings based on what you need and common settings.

“Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule,” government information indicates. “Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day) that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program.”

Here’s more on the savings:

15. Adequate insulation

Don’t you love it when someone else makes things easy? Check out these Energy Star Home Insulation recommendations. In our area of Texas, you’re going to need R30 to R60 insulation for an uninsulated attic or R25 to R38 for an already insulated attic with an existing three to four inches of insulation. For floors, you’ll need R13 to R19 insulation. If you want to do-it-yourself with insulation, this is Energy Star’s guide on how to do it (and when to call the pros), including filling cracks and crevices so your insulation will work most efficiently.

Ad

16. Pull back your insulation if it’s covering venting

Give your venting outside your home room to breathe. Aurum Roofing recommends pulling back insulation that’s often blown into the soffit area. Experts recommend pulling the insulation away from that area so you can see some sunlight from the outside so the vents can function properly.

17. Create a low pressure system in your home

A stock image of a fan in a window. (Pixabay.com)

You can strategically place fans to cool your home without air-conditioning. Here’s how it works. Though the video below was created for use in Canada, the same principal works in the U.S., eh? While we live in a much hotter place, the concept is still something you could try to stay a bit cooler. And remember, keep those blinds drawn for this to be more effective.

Several of these hacks came from this great video from Mr. Built It.

Ad

Copyright 2022 by KPRC Click2Houston – All rights reserved.