We’ve written in before and I am in need of additional advice, please. We are on a tight income and because of the soaring costs of electricity, we would like for you to go over anything you can think of to help us reduce the cost of cooling our home. We are still in for probably three months of heat here in Santa Clarita and with your help, perhaps we can be a little less stressed about staying comfortable in our own home.
— Barbara R.
Answer No. 1
There are a series of things that can be looked into and possibly adjusted, to help reduce the costs of cooling your home. Several of the things I’ll list have an initial cost, but with the savings on cooling, you will recoup those costs if not this year, over the course of likely about 18 months, with California rates.
Window tint on south-facing windows, and if you can afford to, I would also add to the east and west sides, depending on the need with landscaping and other things considered. Investing in sun screens is another thing.
These are in addition to the regular screens. They install over the entire window and block out a good amount of the heat.
I recommend keeping window shades drawn during the heat of the day, especially on the sunny sides. This is least desirable for many folks due to the darkness, but it is definitely cost-effective.
If you have the ability to install a whole house fan, this is something that can, on most evenings, allow you to shut down your AC completely. As soon as the outside temps get to a comfortable place, you can shut down the AC and turn on the whole-house fan. This will pull the outside air in through any open windows (it is recommended you only open windows in occupied rooms), and it then gets pulled up into the attic where it forces any warm air out and continues to cool the attic as well.
You can run this overnight if you wish, keeping security in mind, or shut it down and then restart in the cool morning hours to get the attic and house cool before the heat begins.
Getting rid of the heat load from the previous day not only delays the need to cool earlier, but it is also just more comfortable overall. Some evenings, when the air just doesn’t cool, of course, AC is needed overnight.
This is one of my favorite things because you can get fresh air in the house while staying cool. The old-school fans were loud but the new ones are great, quiet and very efficient.
Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].