Question: Hi Robert, my husband and I live out in Canyon Country and are both retired, on fixed incomes. This past summer we were struck by the incredibly high prices of just about everything, electricity/cooling costs included. We have a pool and know that we have to do something to avoid the poorhouse and are hoping you can give us a list of things we can do for next summer, to help lower our electricity costs. Hoping you can help!
Answer: Mildred, there are many things you can do, if they haven’t already been done. Window tinting paired with sunscreens, primarily on the south side of your home, but you could also do the east and west sides, for those intense morning and afternoon direct sun times. Blackout curtains can also add to this — all three of these items will drastically reduce the amount of heat that comes into your home.
There is such a thing called an attic fan, or whole house fan, which is used generally in the evening and overnight, after the heat of the day has passed. This piece of equipment, when used in conjunction with an open door or window/s, pulls cooler outside air into your home (through the open/secured) door or windows, circulates it and evacuates it through attic vents, back to the outside. This drastically cools the home at a much lower cost than using the AC unit.
Another thing to think about is the use of power during peak and off-peak hours. Essentially, the fast breakdown of this is to do your greatest power usage after 8 p.m. Laundry, dishwasher and the pool filter/equipment.
If you have an old pump on your pool, I recommend the newer variable-speed pump that will work on low volume during the day and you can set it to do its main job after the 8 p.m. time for better efficiency. If you cannot upgrade your existing pump, use what you have and only run it at night and for just a few hours. In most cases, several hours a day is sufficient to keep a pool adequately circulated.
Lastly, be cautious about leaving doors and windows open during the heat of the day. Do your best to follow through and keep them all closed as much as possible, to avoid letting that heat in. Best of luck to you.
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].