Keeping Your Cool This Summer

Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other system in your home.

Typically, 44 percent of your utility bill goes for heating and cooling. What's more, heating and cooling systems in the United States together emit more than a half billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. They also generate about 24 percent of the nation's sulfur dioxide and 12 percent of the nitrogen oxides, the chief ingredients in acid rain. No matter what kind of heating, ventilation and air conditioning system you have in your house, you can save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. But remember, an energy efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole house approach. By combining proper equipment maintenance and improvements with appropriate insulation, weatherization and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy bills and your pollution output in half.

Bigger Isn't Always Better

It might surprise you to know that buying a bigger air conditioning unit won't necessarily make you feel more comfortable during the hot summer months. In fact, an air conditioner that is too big for the area it is supposed to cool will perform less efficiently and less effectively than a smaller, properly sized unit. This is because air conditioners work better and remove more humidity if they run for relatively long periods of time than if they are continually switching off and on. Longer run times allow air conditioners to maintain a more constant room temperature and reduce humidity better.

Sizing is equally important for central air conditioning systems and needs to be done by professionals. If you have a central air system in your home, set the fan to shut off at the same time as the cooling unit or compressor. In other words, don't use the system's central fan to provide circulation because it will return humidity to the living spaces. Instead, use circulation fans in individual rooms.

Cool Tips

Other things you might want to consider to make this summer a cool one:

Editor's Note: These summer cooling tips are compiled from several sources including Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home. Copies of Energy Savers are available from Jerry Loos in the Energy Office. This and other energy saving information is available at

Return to the Spring 1999 Newsletter