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Thursday, 1 August 2013

Five places your money is escaping to in the summer

One of the greatest attractions of living in a country like ours is that we truly get to enjoy four seasons in all of their fullness—especially in Alberta: our legendary winters don't come at the expense of properly hot summers. Living in a clime where whether conditions fluctuate so much, however, does mean that the temperature is seldom just right for survival, which is why we live in climate controlled homes. This method of climate control could be as primitive as a wood-burning stove for use in the winter, or as sophisticated as a geothermal cooling and heating system for use all year round. At any rate, it is necessary for us to consume energy in order to make our sometimes difficult climates livable. This means that we necessarily spend more money on energy consumption than our friends living in more temperate conditions. That said, there are certainly ways for us to reduce those spendings. Here are some places you may be losing money unnecessarily on energy consumption in the summer:

Sunny windows. Natural light is certainly the best kind of light available to us. However, when it comes to sunlight in the summer, there is definitely the possibility of too much of a good thing. Leaving your windows uncovered when you have the air conditioner running can actually increase the amount of work your air conditioner does by one third. Be sure to familiarize yourself with which sides of your house get the most sunlight, and what times they do so. Then, plan to cover the windows on those sides accordingly.

Setting temperatures too low. When you find yourself in what feels like unbearably scorching heat, naturally many people seek to create a polar sanctuary in their homes to escape the infernal outdoors. Setting the thermostat to 24 degrees is a reasonable target. Setting it much lower than this (at 20 degrees for example) could actually double your air conditioning bill.

Opening windows at night. Often we forget how hot it is outside simply because it's dark, and our minds associate dark with cool. After being cooped up indoors all day trying to beat the heat, we feel like it would be nice to be able to enjoy a bit of fresh air. Admittedly, if you're going to open your windows, the night is the best time to do this. However, it often does not cool down at night enough to match the temperatures you've set in your home, which means you are leaking expensive, cooled air out, and are going to pay to re-cool that air again. Check the temperature outside before opening your windows at night.

Old air conditioners. Just as dishwashers and washing machines have evolved to be much more energy-efficient than their predecessors, the same holds true for air conditioners. Newer air conditioners available on the market today can use as little as half of what their fifteen year old counterparts consume. If your air conditioner is older than this, it may be worth replacing.


Wrong-sized air conditioners. When fitting your home for an air conditioner, like Goldilocks, you neither want one that is too big, nor too small: you want one that is just right. An air conditioner that is too large for your home will run on short cycles, starting up and stopping with great frequency. This will lead to problems with humidity in your home, inefficiency in operation, and more frequent repair needs. Conversely, an air conditioner that is too small for your home's size will be constantly running, and will still not be able to keep your entire home as cool as it needs to be. When it comes to air conditioning, correct sizing is critical for energy efficiency.

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