BYRON CENTER, Mich. (WOOD) - Many in West Michigan have kept their air conditioning running non-stop these past few days, sending electric bills soaring.
But the experts at energy consulting company GreenEdge of Michigan say there are ways to save money by making homes energy-efficient.
It's no secret that air conditioning units are a home's biggest draw on energy and drive up electric bills. If it's not running properly, you're wasting money.
But before calling a repair man, GreenEdge owner Mark Lesperance suggests removing shrubs or obstructions from around the unit to increase air flow.
He also advised using a garden hose to gently clean the fins beneath the main shell.
"If it's not getting the proper air exchange over the fins in the coils in here, it's not going to run efficiently," Lesperance said.
And air conditioning units shouldn't be in direct sunlight.
Lesperance said some people don't take advantage of their "set back" thermostat, which can be found in most newer homes. They allow you to program different temperatures for different times of the day depending on whether or not you're home.
"Setting it by a few degrees higher than what you would normally have it. Don't turn your system off completely when you're gone because it will actually take more energy to get it back to where you need it," Lesperance said.
And use fans in conjunction with your air conditioner. They don't use much energy but have a big benefit, allowing you to set the air at a higher temperature.
"You can literally turn it back up two to three degrees and feel just as comfortable," Lesperance explained.
The goal is to reduce any excess heat.Lesperance suggests closing curtains and blinds when possible and turning off lights that aren't in use. Additionally, new CFL bulbs use 80% less energy than incandescent.
And when you are taking a shower or cooking, run the exhaust fan.
"Turn the range hood on in particular if it vents to the outside Draw that moisture back out and you will feel much better," Lesperance said.
And, of course, there are simple tips, like wearing a T-shirt and shorts in the house.
While the savings vary depending on the home and usage, Lesperance said combining tips can save you 20% or 30% on energy bills. He's seen some people save up to $150 per month simply by setting the thermostat properly.
GreenEdge of Michigan
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