While we all look forward to the summer months for warmer weather, and enjoying the great Michigan summer nights, higher energy bills are not welcomed. A cooling strategy now could help you run your air conditioner less, save money, and stay cool and comfortable. Ventilation is one of the key elements to consider during cooling season because it is the least expensive and most energy-efficient way to cool your home.

This summer before you crank down the air conditioning in an effort to stay cool, look to our energy saving tips to understand what actually keeps you cool and money in your pocket.

Prepare Your A/C Unit Now

Proper maintenance can help keep your air conditioner running efficiently and prolong the life of the unit. Have you spent the time to ensure that it will run as it should?

The tips below can help keep your air conditioner running efficiently and prolong the life of the unit:

  • Lower energy use by 5%-15% by replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one (typically every one to two months during high season).
  • Clean evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils. Dirty coils reduce the system’s ability to cool your home and cause the system to run longer, increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
  • Clean the area around outdoor condenser coils by removing debris and trimming foliage so there are at least two feet around the condenser for airflow.
  • For room or window air conditioners, inspect the seal between the air conditioner and the frame to ensure the frame contacts the unit’s metal case. Damage to the seal can cause leaks and waste energy.

Once you have your air conditioner in tip-top shape, work on your overall strategy for using it along with other methods for cooling your home, such as natural ventilation and ceiling fans.

Use Ventilation

Ventilation works best when combined with methods to avoid heat buildup in your home. In some cases, natural ventilation will suffice for cooling, although it usually needs to be supplemented with spot ventilation, ceiling fans, and window fans. For large homes, homeowners might want to investigate whole house fans.

There are three basic ventilation strategies—natural ventilation, spot ventilation, and whole-house ventilation.

Natural Ventilation

Use natural ventilation when possible. Open windows and turn off your cooling system if it’s cool at night and in the mornings.

Spot Ventilation

Spot ventilation includes the use of exhaust fans, such as those used above kitchen ranges and in bathrooms.

Whole-House Ventilation

These systems use one or more fans and duct systems to exhaust stale air and/or supply fresh air to the house.

Ceiling Fans, Window Fans, and Other Circulating Fans

Fans that circulate air within your home can improve your comfort level. Window fans use relatively little electricity and can provide sufficient cooling for homes.

  • Using ceiling fans when you’re in the room. If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent.
  • But remember to turn off fans when you leave the room—fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect.

Set Behaviors

Several simple steps can be done to block the sun’s rays and keep your home cool. Create a habit now and continue through the summer to see savings all season long:

  • Set your thermostat to at least 78°F when you’re at home and need cooling. Use a programmable thermostat to increase the temperature when you’re away and return it to a comfortable level before you’re home.
  • Use energy efficient window treatmentsand close them during the day to block sunlight and radiated heat from outdoors.
  • When landscaping, consider adding shade to block solar heat during the hot summer months.

Visit dteenergy.com/spring for more ways to save.