Keeping your home cool during summer’s long, sunny days

SALEM — With the summer solstice this Sunday, many Oregonians are focused on keeping their homes cool during long, sunny days. Here are some low-cost or no-cost tips for beating the heat, from the Oregon Department of Energy.

ODOE also offers resources and tax incentives to homeowners or landlords interested in upgrading their heating and cooling systems – improvements that can improve comfort, reduce energy use, and save money. For more information, visit: http://www.oregon.gov/energy/At-Home/Pages/RETC.aspx 

Cooling
Open your windows at night so the cool night air can replace the warm air inside. Open windows on opposite sides of the house to encourage cross-ventilation. Close your windows in the morning and close your drapes and shades during the day.

Window shading
Install exterior window awnings or plant trees and shrubs to keep the direct sun off your windows and home.

Lighting
Turn off your lights whenever possible. Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to help reduce heat inside your home. About 90 percent of the electricity used to light an incandescent bulb produces only heat. While CFLs and LEDs are more expensive, they last much longer and use less energy.

HVAC or Air Conditioning
Service or tune-up air conditioning equipment annually. Have your system serviced and adjusted by a professional maintenance technician. Clean or replace filters monthly. Make sure all vents and return grilles are open and not blocked by furniture or drapery.

Save money by setting the thermostat in cooling mode to 78 degrees when you’re home and warmer when you’re away, health permitting.

If you have central air conditioning or a heat pump that is more than 10 years old, or window air conditioners more than eight years old, consider replacing with a more energy efficient system. ODOE’s Residential Energy Tax Credit program provides incentives for numerous heat pump and ventilation systems.

Whole House Fan
If you do not have an air conditioning system, you might consider whole house fans that move a large amount of air from open windows through the ceiling and out through the attic. These powerful fans improve your home’s ability to cool off.

Sealing ductwork
Many homes have leaky or disconnected ductwork. To help ensure your central air conditioning delivers cooled air to all the rooms of your home properly, a trained contractor can evaluate your duct system to identify leaks and then seal them using mastic or an aerosol-based sealant. This work may be eligible for tax incentives through ODOE.

Caulking and weather stripping doors and windows
Gaps between door and window frames allow warm outside air in. Cracked or warped doors should be replaced with an insulated metal or wood door.

Appliances and electronics
Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. Plug home electronics – such as TVs, DVD players and computers – into power strips and turn off the power strips when the equipment is not in use. “Smart strips” can automatically turn off several devices when they are not being used.

Limit use of heat-creating appliances
Running your dishwasher and/or clothes dryer at night will help reduce heat build-up during the day. Allowing dishes and clothes to air dry reduces energy use and avoids adding heat to your home. Using cold or warm water settings for clothes washing reduces energy consumption, too.

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