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summer consumer tips

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Improve Energy Efficiency in Your Home: Cooling Systems

  • Select energy-efficient equipment when buying heating and cooling equipment. 
    • Your heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models and designs to help compare energy usage. 
  • Look for high seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER), high annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings and heating seasonal performance factors(HSPF).  
    • The national minimums are 13 SEER for air conditioners and 78 percent AFUE for furnaces.
    • Central air conditioners with SEERs of 16 and above are available. 


  • Set thermostats at 76°F (24°C) or above when the house is occupied during the day and a few degrees higher at night.
  • Programmable thermostats can change temperatures automatically and easily. They are in expensive, reliable and easy to install.
  • Installing ceiling fans allows occupants to set the thermostat higher thus reducing the time the air conditioner is on.
  • Natural ventilation in arid or temperate climates is an effective energy saver.
  • Windows should be opened and closed to take advantage of the upward movement of warm air and cross ventilation of the room, especially at night.

Air Ducts

  • Have air ducts checked for leaks. Look forsections that should be joined but have separated and also for holes. 
    • If you use duct tape to repair and seal your ducts, use tape with theUnderwriter’s Lab logo so it doesn’t degrade, crack or lose its bond with age. 
  • Make sure vents are not obstructed by furniture, appliances or other objects so that air can flow freely.  
    • This maximizes efficiency of the system and helps distribute cool air throughout the room.
  • Clean or change furnace filters once a month or two, and have the system maintained according to manufacturer’s instructions.  
    • Dirty filters, coils and fans reduce airflow throughout the system, which decreases performance and can damage your system.


  • Adding insulation to your attic is the easiest and least expensive way to cool your home.
  • Insulation can be blown into wall cavities, especially in older homes with little wall insulation.
  • If siding is to be replaced, take the opportunity to add a layer of exterior insulation.
  • Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder in the winter and warmer in the summer.
    • If both the ducts and the basement walls are uninsulated, consider insulating both. 


  • Shading from overhangs, awnings, exterior shades, shade screens and bushes and trees can reduce unwanted heat gain to the house, especially on east and west windows. 
  • Use window draperies or shades to your advantage.  
    • In hot climates close the drapes or shades on the east, south and west windows during the day to prevent the sun’s energy from heating the room unnecessarily.
    • The shade or drapery material should be reflective on the side facing the window. 


  • Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans wisely. In just one hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of cooled air.
  • During the summer, fans often bring in excessive moisture. You may want to install a timer switch instead of a manual switch to limit the unnecessary operation of an exhaust fan.

Related Resources

Learn simple ways to save energy while staying warm.