It’s estimated that half of the average household’s $2,200 spent on energy bills annually comes from heating and cooling costs. And now that summer is in full swing, it’s no surprise that many homeowners across the country have their air conditioning units on full blast. But as homeowners beat the heat, they can also beat some of the costs associated with home cooling. Here’s a look at some summer maintenance tips to stay comfortable while keeping energy bills down:
- Change the air filter: Air filters should be changed (or cleaned, if applicable) at least once a year. For optimum performance and energy efficiency, however, consider changing the filter once a month. Doing so can reduce energy consumption by a whopping 15 percent.
- Close unused ducts: Closing ducts off in seldom used rooms and finished basements (where it’s already likely comfortable) can go a long way in reducing energy consumption.
- Smart or programmable thermostat: Investing in a smart or programmable thermostat can help save energy by conserving household temperatures during periods of the day while you’re away. Many of these thermostats also allow users to program them from mobile phones. It’s estimated that cooling costs can increase by up to 8 percent for each degree you lower your thermostat, so this investment could pay off big time in terms of staying energy efficient.
- Strategic landscaping: The sun’s hottest rays typically enter through south facing windows. And if they have a clear line into your home, they can really heat it up. To combat this, consider planting trees or shrubs to shade these areas of the house and lessen the strain on your AC unit.
- Limit exhaust fan use: Exhaust fans are typically present in the kitchen and bathrooms of the home. And while they serve a purpose, they can also “exhaust” the home of cool air, causing the AC unit to work harder to repopulate it. So minimize the use of these fans to save on energy costs.
Finally, perhaps the best way to keep your energy bills down in the summer is to call in a professional to inspect your AC unit in the spring. A professional HVAC technician will clear the drain, clean the outdoor and indoor units and make sure that everything is running up to speed. An AC check-up usually costs less than $100 and can wind up saving you hundreds in summer cooling costs.
Learn invaluable skills for a fulfilling career as a HVAC mechanic at Vatterott College.
Road trips are one of the great things about summer. You have the time, the weather is good and you have an automobile to take you where you want to go. However, it is an unfortunate fact that sometimes things go wrong on the road – cars can be finicky, and sometimes choose the worst times to act up. Knowing the most common issues ahead of time and performing routine maintenance can help prevent them from stalling your epic summer.
5 Most Common Car Troubles on the Road
- Flat tires
Every car gets a flat eventually. The thing is, you don’t want this happening in the middle of nowhere if you can help it. Many spares are only temporary and besides, who wants to take the time to change the tire?
Check your tires before you leave. Make sure they are inflated properly, have enough tread on them and that your spare is in good shape. Stick a penny in your treads and roll it around. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head you need to get tires before you leave.
- Fluid problems
Your car uses a lot of different fluids. Brake fluid, transmission fluid, engine oil, washer fluid, power steering fluid. Take a look at all of these, make sure the levels are right and that none of them need to be changed. It is also worthwhile to check your hoses for any cracks or leaks. With no leaks and full fluids you should be good to go for your trip.
- Electrical issues
Make sure everything is working, including your wipers, horn and lights. Locate your fuse box and bring some spare fuses in case one blows. If your lights are looking dim, consider bringing along some spare bulbs as well.
Although you checked your brake fluid, you want to make sure your whole brake system is working too. Check your pads for wear and replace them if necessary. Take the car out, speed up to 40 or 50 mph and slam on your brakes (only when and where it is safe to do so) to make sure you can stop. If you notice any issues, take it to the shop.
- Bring an emergency kit
Having water and first aid supplies could save your life if you are ever stuck in the middle of nowhere. Be prepared.
Learn invaluable auto repair skills at Vatterott College.