The first day of fall may be just around the corner, but the dog days of summer continue to linger. While the hot and muggy weather has air conditioners working overtime, here are some tips for some small habit changes around the home that can help ease the stress on your HVAC unit.
One of the main sources of heat and moisture in the home is appliances. Ensuring you are running your appliances efficiently can help you stay cool and cut down on the work your HVAC must do.
Your dishwasher uses hot water from your water heater to do its job. To save on water heating:
- Set your dishwasher at 120 degrees or “low” if you can.
- Make sure your dishwasher is full (but not jam-packed) when you run it and use the shortest cycle that is needed to get your dishes clean.
- Let your dishes air dry instead of using the drying option, or use the non-heat drying option.
- Keep the dishwasher drains clean since they are more efficient when cleaned regularly.
When cooking, try some of the following tips to help lower energy costs:
- Make sure pots and pans are the right size for the burners and use lids when you cook. Using lids will reduce the amount of moisture in the air and using the right size pot or pan will decrease the amount of heat escaping from the eye.
- Glass and ceramic dishes hold heat better, so use these types whenever possible.
- Open the oven door as little as possible. You lose 25 to 75 degrees in the oven each time you open the door and your oven works harder. Plus, the escaped energy only heats up the kitchen and makes your HVAC work harder.
- Try using other small appliances like crockpots, electric frying pans and microwaves more. They are often more energy efficient and do not generate the heat a conventional stove and oven do.
- Use your outdoor grill to keep the heat out of the kitchen. This will ease the burden on your HVAC unit.
Washers and dryers are some of the biggest energy users and heat producers in the house, so a little extra attention here can help:
- Washing your clothes in cold water saves on water heating costs, keeps colors from fading and clothes from shrinking. This cuts down on water heater use and keeps the humidity down in the laundry room.
- Wash a full load when you can. If you can’t wait for a full load, use the appropriate load-size setting.
- Remember to add the right amount of detergent. Too many suds make your washer work harder and use more energy, plus too much detergent can lead to mildew.
- Air dry your clothes when you can. Not only will this cut down on your energy bill, but it’s less damaging to your clothes.
- Don’t overload your clothes dryer or do small dryer loads. Dryers tend to work most efficiently with a medium load where clothes have room to tumble and the warm air can circulate.
- Stop your dryer when the laundry is dry.
- Remember to clean the lint traps before every load and clean the dryer vents periodically. It helps you use less energy and avoids a source of home fires.
- When you can, dry your laundry in consecutive loads to take advantage of a heated dryer and save energy.
But perhaps the biggest energy efficiency tip concerning home appliance use is not use any appliance that generates heat and moisture in the home during the heat of the day. Whenever possible, save these chores for nighttime when temperatures have cooled and your HVAC has a fighting chance to keep your home cool and humidity-free.
For more energy-saving tips, please visit www.alabamapower.com/tips.