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Summer Energy Conservation

The hot, humid Houston summers make it difficult to keep the central air use at a respectable (and inexpensive) level. If you are like most us, your air conditioning has already been on 24 hours a day for several weeks. Locals know that we have at least three more months of intense heat, with little relief until October. Though it might be difficult to believe, area households can keep cool throughout the dog days while conserving energy. Every year the technicians at Universal (with some assistance from Energy.Gov) like to offer tips for keeping electrical use at a manageable rate – even as the temperatures rise. We hope that your summer is a relaxing and energy-efficient one!

Keep the Curtains Closed

This relatively simple tip is often disregarded, especially for households with children. But keeping the sunlight from coming inside the home can lower the indoor temperature by several degrees. This is extremely helpful for windows that are facing south. Sunlight can also negatively affect your HVAC system if your thermostat is located near a window or is in an area that might receive direct sunlight. The warmth of the sun can cause the thermostat to take an inaccurate reading, causing the air conditioning to cycle continuously – wasting both resources and money. Consider drawing the curtains or blinds during the warmest times of the day (generally 2 – 8 p.m.) Keeping it dark, your home will be able to retain the conditioned air for a longer period of time; ensuring less usage during the day.

Smart Lighting

With the shades drawn for a good portion of the day, you will naturally be using the indoor lights more. This might be the ideal time to switch your home lighting over to LED bulbs. Basic incandescent bulbs (still the most popular) turn 90 percent of their energy into heat. LED bulbs only produce half the heat, operating at a lower wattage. These bulbs also use 75 percent less energy, are more durable and last as much as 50 times longer than incandescents. Replacing your indoor lights with LEDs this summer will help save you quite a bit of money on both electricity and replacement costs.

Facts on LED Lighting

Stay Away from the Oven

The oven and stove top are not only a drain on the electricity, they can produce a lot of heat in the home as well. Consider using the microwave or toaster oven more (both use much less energy and heat than an oven). Grilling outside is also a summer staple and will ensure less energy use. Though a typical summer evening in Houston isn’t always conducive to a backyard barbeque, grilling for the family outside – and bringing the food inside is always an option.

Thermostat Settings

This is a tricky tip as Houston homes have the added problem of humidity, which can make it seem much warmer than the actual temperature. Fortunately, most modern “smart” thermostats can be programmed to keep humidity levels at a healthy 40 – 50 percent. What is your thermostat usually set at on a typical summer day? If we assume that your humidity levels are within the norm, 72 degrees should be a reasonable temperature for our 90-something highs. However, for every degree you raise above that level, you can save up to 3 percent in cooling costs. See how much higher you can set the thermostat and still maintain your comfort level. When the family is away from home, try setting the thermostat at an even higher temperature. Though a Houston summer makes it tough, if not impossible, to turn the air off altogether, keeping the home cooled in the low 80s is still a cost-saving tactic.

Thermostat Tips

Ceiling Fans

A ceiling fan is another great way to get the most out of your central air system. You can lower your thermostat by 4 -5 degrees without compromising your comfort. The “wind chill effect” helps a space feel cooler because it is helping to lower body temperature. While it’s a great enhancement for your central air, a ceiling fan should not be left running in an empty room as it does nothing to lower the actual temperature.

Ceiling Fan Benefits

Another great way to ensure your cooling bills are low this summer is to schedule your annual air conditioner maintenance. Regular maintenance will help keep your system running at maximum efficiency, keep repairs at a minimum and add years to its longevity. It will also help keep your utility bills low throughout the year. If you haven’t had your annual maintenance performed for the summer, there’s still time to ensure your system is working in top condition. Call Universal Home Experts at (713) 364-0226to schedule an appointment today!


For more information on water conservation, give us a call at (713) 364-0226 (available 24/7). Or you can visit us online or drop us a message on our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages.

Universal Home Experts is your trusted source for all your plumbing, electrical, and HVAC needs.

We service the entire Houston area. Don’t forget to schedule your annual heating maintenance tune-up. It will extend the life of your HVAC system, increase energy efficiency, and ensure your warranties remain valid.