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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When we bought our home did several upgrades to make it more energy efficient and thought we had done enough to keep our bills at a reasonable rate. It was not the case though. During the hottest months, our electric bills run between $350 and $500 per month.

We have been trying to think of ways to keep it cooler so that the air conditioner will not have to work so darn hard. I have this idea and am wondering if anyone knows if it would work.

The longest side of our house faces south and the sun beats on it from dawn to dusk. I was thinking that perhaps we could shade that side of the house by dropping a sunshade from the eaves to shade the wall and, thus, keep it from heating up the house so much. As long as it is well ventilated, it should trap heat...I'm thinking, at least.

What do you think? Do you think it would work?
 

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Maybe give some thought to the color and material you use for shading? Something that would reflect sunlight away, and not absorb it?
 

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I live in Vegas and a lot of people tell me they have a swamp cooler that helps keep the house cooler and saves money on energy. They use the swamp cooler in addition to an air conditioner.

Another thing that some people can do - but this is mostly just for homes with aluminum siding (mobile homes and older homes) - is to plant something that's ivy like and crawls up the walls outside your house. It helps insulate the house and saves money for both heating and cooling.

We recently installed shutters on the two windows that face the sun most. The shutters are proven to help reduce energy consumption and there's even a tax rebate on them.

Ceiling fans can help, too. And keeping the lights off during the day. And running hot appliances like the dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer late at night so the heat they produce doesn't make the house hotter during the day. And if you don't have animals in the house, then just let it get hot and spend the day somewhere else where you don't have to pay for the A/C (like a coffee shop or mall).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElaineV View Post

I live in Vegas and a lot of people tell me they have a swamp cooler that helps keep the house cooler and saves money on energy. They use the swamp cooler in addition to an air conditioner.
We do have a swamp cooler and as long as it is under 100 degrees we use it a lot. July and August, though, no way.

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Another thing that some people can do - but this is mostly just for homes with aluminum siding (mobile homes and older homes) - is to plant something that's ivy like and crawls up the walls outside your house. It helps insulate the house and saves money for both heating and cooling.
You know, I was just thinking about that. Do you know a local landscaper that can come and work on the sprinklers?

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We recently installed shutters on the two windows that face the sun most. The shutters are proven to help reduce energy consumption and there's even a tax rebate on them.
What kink of shutters are they? Did you have them on last summer?

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Ceiling fans can help, too. And keeping the lights off during the day. And running hot appliances like the dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer late at night so the heat they produce doesn't make the house hotter during the day. And if you don't have animals in the house, then just let it get hot and spend the day somewhere else where you don't have to pay for the A/C (like a coffee shop or mall).
We do have animals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
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Originally Posted by OakBlossoms View Post

Do you have an attic fan installed? My parents did that a few years ago and it made a huge difference.
No, we don't. Do you mean a whole house fan that is in the ceiling or something on the roof?
 

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Are you two story? What do you keep your AC on in the summer. I don't cool real low. Even when I owned my house which was under 1200 square feet, I never had high bills. Now I'm in an upstairs apartment but thankfully I don't get the afternoon sun here.
 

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The shutters we got are like these: http://sunburstshutters.com/shutters
They're made of plastic-like material and are supposed to be better at insulation than wood. We did have them last Summer and they helped, although those two rooms were still the hottest in the whole house. We still need to install ceiling fans.

About landscapers, we've used two and both did a good job, though they weren't so good that I'd recommend them by name. But I found the staff at Star Nursery to be very helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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Originally Posted by Teresa View Post

Are you two story?[
No

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What do you keep your AC on in the summer.
78 degrees. Which is fine for the daytime, but at night it is hard to sleep with it that warm.

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I don't cool real low. Even when I owned my house which was under 1200 square feet, I never had high bills. Now I'm in an upstairs apartment but thankfully I don't get the afternoon sun here.
Yeah, I think the biggest problem is that we are in full sun all day. And my house is a little bigger than 2200 square feet.

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Originally Posted by papayamon View Post

..
i wonder how much dehumidifying would help. it seems to help me quite a bit here in florida.
I live in the desert so humidity is not a problem usually. I might die if I lived in Florida.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I just found out that we need an expansion valve (whatever that is) put on our AC. My goal is to get our electric bill down below $200 in July and August.
 

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julz, 78 isn't excessive. I keep my apartment about 78-79 in the summer. I kept the house a bit warmer. I'm in Northern California Valley. If you are in the desert you probably get even higher temperatures without the cool down at night.
 

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1) Do you have insulation in the walls and the ceiling? If you don't, you should consider installing it because it's the best way to keep the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter (you won't need the shade down the side wall then.)

2) If you can afford it, install some kind of solar screen on the windows and keep them down/shut during the day.

3) When the air-con is running, close off all the doors to rooms that you aren't actually using at that moment such as bathrooms, toilets, spare bedrooms, etc so that you are not wasting energy on cooling rooms that you aren't actually in. Those rooms will end up quite hot, but who cares cos you're not in them. (do the same thing when heating in winter).

4) If you have a contemporary style air-con system, use the remote control to isolate the cooling to areas such as the kitchen, dining room, lounge, family room or whatever you will be using the most. Also, set the thermostat to the desired room temperature that you want so that the system switches itself on or off when the air temp goes above or below that desired setting.

5) Think about wearing less/lighter clothing so that you don't have to have it set on a really cold setting, because every degree cooler that you go on the temperature setting can often make the difference between a bill for $300 and a one for $400.

6) If you have an older style cooling system, just set it to what you feel it cools the house best on and remember to close the doors to any areas that you are not immediately using. If you can afford it, think about removing the old system and installing a modern one. These systems are far more efficient to run and the money you end up saving will be worth the cost of the installation in the long run.
 

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Keep the outside unit clean and change the furnace filters every month. This is the best thing you can do for the life and efficiency of the unit.

If the unit is located in an area where the sun will be beating down on it, it is a good idea to get some sort of shade screen (removable for service) to block the sun.

Digital, Programmable thermostat. Every degree up or down on the thermostat can save you 3% on your energy bill. The newer programmable thermostats are not at all complicated to operate. Some utility companies have programs where you can get a good one for free or at a discount.

Thought of one more thing. Have the service tech check your acoil. If it is over 5+ years old, it may be dirty and in need of cleaning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nishani View Post

1) Do you have insulation in the walls and the ceiling? If you don't, you should consider installing it because it's the best way to keep the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter (you won't need the shade down the side wall then.)

We have that. Our house is only 7 years old so we have whatever is required by building codes. Do you think the shading will help on top of that?
Quote:
2) If you can afford it, install some kind of solar screen on the windows and keep them down/shut during the day.
Done.

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3) When the air-con is running, close off all the doors to rooms that you aren't actually using at that moment such as bathrooms, toilets, spare bedrooms, etc so that you are not wasting energy on cooling rooms that you aren't actually in. Those rooms will end up quite hot, but who cares cos you're not in them. (do the same thing when heating in winter).
We do that sometimes, but will be doing it for sure this summer.

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4) If you have a contemporary style air-con system, use the remote control to isolate the cooling to areas such as the kitchen, dining room, lounge, family room or whatever you will be using the most. Also, set the thermostat to the desired room temperature that you want so that the system switches itself on or off when the air temp goes above or below that desired setting.

5) Think about wearing less/lighter clothing so that you don't have to have it set on a really cold setting, because every degree cooler that you go on the temperature setting can often make the difference between a bill for $300 and a one for $400.

6) If you have an older style cooling system, just set it to what you feel it cools the house best on and remember to close the doors to any areas that you are not immediately using. If you can afford it, think about removing the old system and installing a modern one. These systems are far more efficient to run and the money you end up saving will be worth the cost of the installation in the long run.
The unit is only 7years old, so we won't need to replace it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by papayamon View Post

i think in the desert don't they use evaporative cooling, which adds water to the air. or am i wrong?
We have a swamp cooler. It is fine up to about 90 to 100 degrees. I love it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by midwestbeth View Post

Keep the outside unit clean and change the furnace filters every month. This is the best thing you can do for the life and efficiency of the unit.

If the unit is located in an area where the sun will be beating down on it, it is a good idea to get some sort of shade screen (removable for service) to block the sun.

Digital, Programmable thermostat. Every degree up or down on the thermostat can save you 3% on your energy bill. The newer programmable thermostats are not at all complicated to operate. Some utility companies have programs where you can get a good one for free or at a discount.

Thought of one more thing. Have the service tech check your acoil. If it is over 5+ years old, it may be dirty and in need of cleaning.
Good suggestions. Will definitely do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
You know, I was thinking that with our size house, 2200+ square feet, I don't need to cool the entire house at night...it is just me, my husband, and our pets. We could put in a room air conditioner in my bedroom and run the swamp cooler in the rest of the house at night only.

Running a small air conditioner has got to cheaper than cooling the entire house with the large unit, right?
 

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Paint the roof white - reflects the sun. Also, supposed to be good for global warming.

The parents of a friend I had when I was a kid would leave their back door open (screen closed, of course) at night, so it would be annoyingly cold, but cooler during the day.
 

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Julz, I would suggest getting your AC unit checked to see if it is working properly. Below is an article on how to lower your electric bill, which many of the suggestions have already been suggested here. Definitely get an attic fan. They don't cost very much and could help keep your house cool. They say that 40% of your AC is lost through the ceiling/roof. You basically have a heat source directly above your head and your AC unit is fighting it.

http://frugalliving.about.com/od/hou...ctric_Bill.htm
 
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